7.5/10
5,203
74 user 54 critic

Compulsion (1959)

Approved | | Biography, Crime, Drama | April 1959 (USA)
Trailer
2:26 | Trailer

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

Director:

Richard Fleischer

Writers:

Richard Murphy (screenplay), Meyer Levin (based on the novel by)
Reviews
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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
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Storyline

In Chicago in 1924, Artie Strauss and Judd Steiner are friends and fellow law students who come from wealthy backgrounds. They have few true friends as they believe all their contemporaries to be intellectually inferior. Although Judd acts arrogantly towards others his inherent weakness is understood and exploited by Artie and indeed Judd appears to relish his submissiveness to Artie. Part of their goal in life, influenced perhaps by their admiration for Nietzsche, is to experience how it feels to do anything one pleases. They thus plot to commit what they consider the perfect crime - a kidnapping and murder - not only in order to experience killing for killing's sake, but also - especially in Artie's case - to taunt the authorities after the fact. They believe themselves above the law. The actual killing of little Paulie Kessler, and the subsequent attempts to cover their tracks, are not so perfect however. Sid Brooks, a fellow student (who also works for the Globe newspaper) whom ... Written by Huggo, edited with some additional material by Chrid

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

THEIRS WAS THE PERFECT CRIME they thought! They were too sure...too smart...too careful to leave a clue -- but they did! and it exploded -- The shocking story of two teenagers out for kicks...looking for thrills...and finding them! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

April 1959 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Zwang zum Bösen See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (FMC Library Print)

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (35 mm magnetic prints) (Westrex Recording System)| Mono (35 mm optical prints) (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

For some reason, the appropriately gravelly voice of actor and wrestler Henry Kulky, nicknamed "Bomber", playing the part of a speakeasy waiter, was dubbed by another actor. See more »

Goofs

When the murdered boy is in the morgue, his uncle recognizes him instantly, and the coroner doesn't mention to the young journalist (who found the glasses) that the kid had acid burned all over his face so he couldn't be identified. In the real life case, his face was burned and, most importantly, at the very end of the movie, Orson Welles as the defending attorney mentions that the murdered boy's face was burned with acid. 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 »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: CHICAGO, 1924 See more »

Connections

Featured in The Andrew Klavan Show: Sleaze-Bob No Pants (2017) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Mostly involving film with sensational performances by main characters and supporting cast
22 January 2007 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

The film deal with two young men (Bradford Dillman , Dean Stockwell) who murder a pal . They are law students and followers to Nietsche theories . They are investigated by an astute prosecutor (E.G.Marshall) . He's growing suspicion but there isn't one perfect crime . As the relentless justice to be executed and they go on trial for killing . A famous lawyer (Orson Welles) will defend them on the accusation of murderers and under death penalty . A young girl (Diane Varsi) will testify for them .

This highly interesting film is inspired on real events about Nathan Leopold-Richard Lob killing case in Chicago of the 1920s . Although the story was obviously a thinly-disguised recreation of the known murder case , the legal department of 20th Century Fox was still concerned about a possible lawsuit from the still-living Leopold . In fact , a great effort was made not to mention Leopold or Loeb in the film , press releases , and interviews . The film contains suspense , drama , tension , illicit love with intertwining triangles , emotion , courtroom trial and complex intrigue maintained throughout . Besides , superb performances by main roles (Dillman , Stockell , Varsi, Welles) and supporting casting (Martin Milner , Robert F. Simon , Gavin McLeod , among others). Special mention for Orson Welles who displays a terrific acting and explaining a significant speech into criminal court . The movie is visually magnificent with an excellent black and white cinematography by William C. Mellor . Evocative and adjusted music by Lionel Newman . The motion picture was wonderfully directed by Richard Fleischer .

This is the second of four film adaptations of the Leopold-Loeb murder case , other versions about same events are the famous ¨The rope¨ (1948) by Hithcock with John Dall (in the character of Bradford Dillman )and Farley Granger (in the role of Dean Stockwell), ¨Swoon¨ and recently ¨Murder by numbers¨ by Barbet Schroeder with Michael Pitt and Ryan Gosling . Indispensable and fundamental seeing for court genre enthusiasts and Orson Welles fans . It's one of Richard Fleisher's best. Rating : Above average .


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