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Compulsion
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Compulsion (1959) More at IMDbPro »

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Compulsion -- Trailer for this film based on the best selling novel

Overview

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7.5/10   3,120 votes »
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Down 7% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Director:
Writers:
Richard Murphy (screenplay)
Meyer Levin (based on the novel by)
Contact:
View company contact information for Compulsion on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
4 May 1959 (Sweden) See more »
Tagline:
Sometimes murder is just a way to pass the time. See more »
Plot:
Two wealthy law-school students go on trial for murder in this version of the Leopold-Loeb case. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Awards:
Nominated for BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 win & 4 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Short vision See more (54 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Orson Welles ... Jonathan Wilk

Diane Varsi ... Ruth Evans

Dean Stockwell ... Judd Steiner

Bradford Dillman ... Arthur A. Straus

E.G. Marshall ... District Attorney Harold Horn

Martin Milner ... Sid Brooks

Richard Anderson ... Max Steiner
Robert F. Simon ... Police Lt. Johnson (as Robert Simon)

Edward Binns ... Tom Daly
Robert Burton ... Charles Straus
Wilton Graff ... Mr. Steiner
Louise Lorimer ... Mrs. Straus aka 'Mumsy'

Gavin MacLeod ... Padua - Horn's Assistant
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ina Balin ... Mike's girlfriend (scenes deleted)
Edmund Cobb ... Policeman (scenes deleted)
Frank Conroy ... (scenes deleted)
Don Anderson ... Reporter (uncredited)
Terry Becker ... Angry Reporter (uncredited)
Russ Bender ... Edgar Llewellyn - Attorney (uncredited)
Peter Brocco ... Albert, Steiner's Chauffeur (uncredited)

Alan Carney ... Globe Newspaper Editior (uncredited)
Harry Carter ... Detective Davis (uncredited)
Ben Frommer ... Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
Wendell Holmes ... Jonas Kessler (uncredited)
Kenner G. Kemp ... Juror (uncredited)
Colin Kenny ... Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
Henry Kulky ... Tough Waiter (uncredited)
Mike Lally ... Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
Gerry Lock ... Emma (uncredited)
Jack Lomas ... Medical Examiner (uncredited)
Dayton Lummis ... Dr. Allwyn - Psychiatrist (uncredited)
Hank Mann ... Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)

Frank McClure ... Reporter (uncredited)
Hans Moebus ... Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
Ralph Montgomery ... Courtroom Reporter (uncredited)
William H. O'Brien ... Waiter (uncredited)
Voltaire Perkins ... Judge Matthews (uncredited)
Jack Raine ... Professor McKinnon (uncredited)
Tony Regan ... Reporter (uncredited)
Jeffrey Sayre ... Reporter on Telephone (uncredited)
Simon Scott ... Detective Brown (uncredited)
Nina Shipman ... Girlfriend (uncredited)
Hal Taggart ... Reporter (uncredited)
Arthur Tovey ... Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
Tom Wilson ... Juror (uncredited)
Wilson Wood ... Reporter (uncredited)

Directed by
Richard Fleischer 
 
Writing credits
Richard Murphy (screenplay)

Meyer Levin (based on the novel by)

Produced by
Richard D. Zanuck .... producer
 
Original Music by
Lionel Newman 
 
Cinematography by
William C. Mellor (director of photography)
 
Film Editing by
William Reynolds (film editor)
 
Art Direction by
Mark-Lee Kirk 
Lyle R. Wheeler 
 
Set Decoration by
Eli Benneche (set decorations)
Walter M. Scott (set decorations)
 
Costume Design by
Adele Palmer (costumes designed by)
 
Makeup Department
Ben Nye .... makeup artist
Helen Turpin .... hair stylist
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Ben Kadish .... assistant director
 
Sound Department
Eugene Grossman .... sound
Harry M. Leonard .... sound
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Charles Le Maire .... executive wardrobe designer (as Charles LeMaire)
Ed Wynigear .... wardrobe (uncredited)
 
Editorial Department
Orven Schanzer .... first assistant editor (uncredited)
 
Music Department
Earle Hagen .... orchestrations
Bernard Mayers .... orchestrator (uncredited)
 
Crew verified as complete


Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies
  • Bausch & Lomb  CinemaScope lenses by
  • CinemaScope  acknowledgment: is the registered trademark of Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
103 min | 99 min (FMC Library Print)
Country:
Language:
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
4-Track Stereo (35 mm magnetic prints) (Westrex Recording System) | Mono (35 mm optical prints) (Westrex Recording System)
Certification:
Canada:PG (video rating) | Finland:K-16 | Germany:16 (re-rating) | Sweden:15 | UK:A | USA:Approved (certificate #19194) | West Germany:18 (f)

Did You Know?

Trivia:
The closing arguments monologue was the longest in film history.See more »
Goofs:
Continuity: When D.A. Horn is interviewing Straus, Horn sits down in a chair that was meant for Staus and moves a floor lampshade back down that had been directing its light at that chair. Staus moves to stand beside the floor lamp. The light is then variably on and off as shots between the two change.See more »
Quotes:
[first lines]
Judd Steiner:To the perfect crime!
Arthur Straus:Crime. Oh, my wealthy fraternity brothers. 67 dollars, and a second-hand typewriter.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Version of The Rope (1968) (TV)See more »

FAQ

Is 'Compulsion' based on a book?
Who represents Leopold and who represents Loeb in the movie?
How closely does this movie follow the real story about Leopold and Loeb?
See more »
18 out of 28 people found the following review useful.
Short vision, 18 May 2005
Author: jotix100 from New York

"Compulsion" was one of the most important American films of the late 50s. Based loosely on the famous Leopold and Loeb case, the movie still packs quite an impact because of the excellent work by the three principals. As directed by Richard Fleischer, this is a disturbing look at two criminal minds who thought they were above and beyond the law because they had the perfect crime planned. The film was greatly adapted for the screen by Richard Murphy from the Meyer Levin book and stage play.

Even for those clever enough to carry on a murder, there is always a possibility that a minor mistake will give the culprit away. The two young men at the center of the story, Judd Steiner and Artie Straus are homosexual lovers. At the time, being gay in America must have been one of the worst things in a more puritanical and pious society. These two men hide their sexual preference well because of the circles they both move. Coming from upper class families, in a way, made it easier for these men to formulate a plan to satisfy their idle existences.

After committing a heinous crime, just because they thought they could get away with it, the two friends begin experiencing the guilt associated with what they have done. Judd's reaction is different from Artie's. Where Judd tries to lay low, Artie tries to help the police in a bold move that will end up badly. Judd suddenly feels abandoned by Artie when he realizes Artie might be getting too close to the people investigating the murder.

As careful as these men had been, something that apparently seems innocent, ties them to the crime. The principal investigator, Sid Brooks, turns the men against one another by playing his cards right. This is the moment that Jonathan Wilk, the famous trial lawyer enters the picture. Unfortunately, even a star lawyer can't save people that have talked too much because they thought they were above the law.

Star lawyers have always been at the center of all famous trials throughout the history. In a way, it's ironic that only one man, the great Jonathan Wilk is the only person in court to defend Steiner and Straus. Had it been today, these two men would have had a battery of expensive lawyers making the case for them. The figure of Wilke is based on the real lawyer of the Leopold and Loeb case: Clarence Darrow, a man larger than life.

Dean Stockwell and Bradford Dillman made an invaluable contribution to the success of the film. Mr. Stockwell, a child actor that grew up in front of the camera, makes a compelling Judd Steiner. Mr. Stockwell gets under Steiner's skin because he seems to know what made this young man do what he did. Mr. Dillman was a relative new face to the movies, but his performance as Artie Straus has a profound effect on the viewer. Neither man makes a likable person, but maybe that was the message the author of the play wanted to leave the viewer with.

Orson Welles made a splendid appearance as the defense lawyer, Jonathan Wilk. Mr. Welles' physical presence dominates most of the court proceedings. In fact, is a tribute to his genius that he towers over everything around him whenever he is in front of the camera. E. G. Marshall has some good moments as Sid Brooks, the investigator who unearths the truth in this case. Ed Binns, Martin Milner, Robert Simon, Richard Anderson make contributions to the film. Diane Varsi, as the Ruth Evans is the only female that has an opportunity in the film.

The film moves at a quick pace and will, no doubt, satisfy those viewers seeking intelligent entertainment.

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