May 10, 1959: Compulsion, in UK cinemas

“YOU KNOW WHY WE DID IT? BECAUSE WE DAMN WELL FELT LIKE DOING IT!”

Compulsion-1959Compulsion is an 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.

Close friends Judd Steiner (based on Nathan Leopold and played by Stockwell) and Artie Strauss (based on Richard Loeb and played by Dillman) 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 — Steiner’s glasses, which he inadvertently leaves at the scene of the crime. Famed attorney Jonathan Wilk (based on Clarence Darrow and played by Welles) takes their case, saving them from hanging by making an impassioned closing argument against capital punishment.

Cinema-UK-05-10-1959

 

Having just completed directing the crime thriller Touch of Evil, which, while overlooked at the time in America, had earned numerous plaudits at European film festivals, Orson Welles was bitter that he had not been hired to direct Compulsion, and, in consequence, his time on the set, contractually limited to 10 days, was fraught with tension, with Welles frequently throwing tantrums and railing against members of the cast and crew. On his final day of production, at a farewell party in his honor, Welles was informed by producer Richard Zanuck that the actor’s entire paycheck had been garnished by the Internal Revenue Service. [Wikipedia]

Watch the trailer on the saxondog2001 YouTube Channel.

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