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Compulsion (1959) - Plot Summary Poster

(1959)

Plot Summary

  • In 1924 Chicago, Artie Strauss and Judd Steiner are friends and fellow law students who both come from wealthy backgrounds. They have few true friends as they believe all their contemporaries are intellectually inferior. Within their relationship, Artie is the dominant and Judd the submissive who says he will do whatever Artie tells him. Although Judd acts intellectually arrogant to others, he also shows signs of weakness and reticence most evident to Artie. Part of their goal in life is to experience how it feels to do everything. As such, they plot to commit what they consider the perfect crime - a kidnapping and murder - not only so that they can experience the sense of killing for killing's sake, but also taunt the law with the knowledge of it and their superiority after the fact. They believe their crime is above the law. Their murder of young Paulie Kessler is not so perfect, with evidence at the scene uncovered by one of their law school colleagues, Sid Brooks, who also works for the Globe newspaper. As Artie and Judd try to manipulate their way out of how the evidence may implicate them, their manipulation ultimately backfires and they are charged with the murder. The most famed trial lawyer in town, Jonathan Wilk, is hired to defend the pair despite his atheism being against the families' sensibilities. Jonathan, renowned for his ability to manipulate juries, has to decide how best to defend his clients in the overwhelming face of evidence against them. The testimony of Ruth Evans, Sid's girlfriend, may have some impact on the trial's outcome.

    - Written by Huggo
  • Chicago, 1924. Two brilliant, wealthy, but psycho young men set out for thrills and go much too far. Meanwhile, their fellow law student Sid Brooks helps identify the murdered body of a kidnap victim and finds a clue to the killers...who firmly believe they can outsmart all opponents with ease. Result - a sensational case with defense attorney Jonathan Wilk putting capital punishment itself on trial...

    - Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>
  • In 1924 Chicago, two rich college students, Judd Steiner and Arthur Strauss, decide they can commit the perfect murder and get away with. They kill a young teenager, Paulie Kessler, but through the efforts of part-time reporter and fellow student Sid Brooks, a pair of glasses left at the scene is traced to the murderers. For their trial, the families hire renowned defense attorney Jonathan Wilk known for his passionate arguments against the death penalty. Both men confessed to the crime but Wilk pleads them not guilty. At the trial, they change the plea to guilty and Wilk argues passionately in favor of a life sentence rather than execution.

    - Written by garykmcd
  • Two wealthy law-school students go on trial for murder in this version of the Leopold-Loeb case.

    - Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

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