7.5/10
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71 user 52 critic

Compulsion (1959)

Approved | | Biography, Crime, Drama | April 1959 (USA)
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Two wealthy law-school students go on trial for murder in this version of the Leopold-Loeb case.

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Writers:

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

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
... Jonathan Wilk
... Ruth Evans
... Judd Steiner
... Arthur A. Straus
... District Attorney Harold Horn
... Sid Brooks
... Max Steiner
... Police Lt. Johnson (as Robert Simon)
... Tom Daly
... Charles Straus
... Mr. Steiner
... Mrs. Straus aka 'Mumsy'
... 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

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Taglines:

You know why we did it? Because we damn well felt like doing it! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

April 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Zwang zum Bösen  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (FMC Library Print)

Sound Mix:

(35 mm magnetic prints) (Westrex Recording System)| (35 mm optical prints) (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In his treatment of the Leopold-Loeb case, Rope (1948), Sir Alfred Hitchcock used his famous "ten-minute takes" and segued from one to the other with a "natural wipe" generally focusing on the back of one of the character's suit jackets. Perhaps as an homage to the Master, this film's director, Richard Fleischer, uses a "natural wipe" focusing on the front of Bradford Dillman's suit to end a scene. 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.
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Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: CHICAGO, 1924 See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Leopold-Loeb Re-Telling Has Interesting Characters
17 February 2008 | by See all my reviews

This was pretty interesting, thanks to Bradford Dillman who was excellent as one of the murderers, and to Orson Welles, as defense attorney "Jonathan Wilk." Wells could be such an imposing presence on screen! Interesting, too, that his character was an atheist but in the end admitted he may have been wrong about that.

E.G. Marshall also was fun to watch as the prosecutor, "Dist. Att. Harold Horn," but, of course, the screen writers had him silent in the end only showing Welles state his liberal impassioned anti-death penalty speech at the end.

Dillman and Dean Stockwell were the wise-guys, young arrogant punks who thought they were smarter than anyone else. Dillman held up under pressure but Stockwell was an annoying wimpy wuss who cracked. Diani Varsi playing the lukewarm love interest, adds very little to the film.

Overall, this re-telling of the famous Leopold-Loeb case of the 1920s was worth the watch and recommended. If this kind of story fascinates you, I recommend a similar film: "Rope" (1949).


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