DirectorRichard Fleischer Music directorLionel Newman Duration LanguageEnglish
Release dateApril 1, 1959 (1959-04-01) Based onCompulsion
by Meyer Levin WriterRichard Murphy (screenplay), Meyer Levin (based on the novel by) CastOrson 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) Similar moviesA Time to Kill, The Juror, Inherit the Wind, 12 Angry Men, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Rainmaker
Sociopathic students Artie Straus (Bradford Dillman) and Judd Steiner (Dean Stockwell) murder a boy in a philosophical exercise to commit the flawless crime. Despite their precautions, one of them inadvertently left a key piece of evidence at the crime scene, and they have been arrested and put on trial. Its up to their nationally famous attorney (Orson Welles) to save these misguided souls from execution. The film is based on the infamous Leopold and Loeb case of 1924.
Compulsion is a 1959 American crime drama film directed by Richard Fleischer. The film is based on the 1956 novel of the same name by Meyer Levin, which in turn was a fictionalized account of the Leopold and Loeb murder trial. It was the first film produced by Richard D. Zanuck.
Although the principal roles are played by Dean Stockwell and Bradford Dillman, top billing went to Orson Welles, who does not appear in the films first hour.
Two close friends, arrogantly and without remorse, kidnap and murder a young boy. They are caught and put to trial where their larger-than-life defense lawyer blames the Establishment for their actions.
Artie Strauss and Judd Steiner (Bradford Dillman and Dean Stockwell) kill a boy on his way home from school in order to commit the "perfect crime". Strauss tries to cover it up, but they are caught when police find a key piece of evidence — Steiners glasses, which he inadvertently leaves at the scene of the crime. Famed attorney Jonathan Wilk (Orson Welles) takes their case, saving them from hanging by making an impassioned closing argument against capital punishment.
Orson Welles as Jonathan Wilk
Diane Varsi as Ruth Evans
Dean Stockwell as Judd Steiner
Bradford Dillman as Artie Strauss
E. G. Marshall as District Attorney Harold Horn
Martin Milner as Sid Brooks
Richard Anderson as Max Steiner
Robert F. Simon as Police Lt. Johnson (as Robert Simon)
Edward Binns as Tom Daly
Robert Burton as Charles Straus
Wilton Graff as Mr. Steiner
Louise Lorimer as Strausss mother
Gavin MacLeod as Padua - Horns Assistant
Terry Becker as Angry Reporter (uncredited)
Swoon (1992). Orson Welles and Bradford Dillman appear in Compulsion and Crack in the Mirror. Rope (1948). E G Marshall and Edward Binns appear in Compulsion and 12 Angry Men. Orson Welles appears in Compulsion and directed Touch of Evil.
The film was entered into the 1959 Cannes Film Festival, where Dillman, Stockwell and Welles won the Best Actor Award.
It was nominated for the BAFTA best picture of the year. Richard Fleischer was nominated for best director by Directors Guild of America, and Richard Murphy was nominated for best screenplay by the Writers Guild of America.