Compulsion (1959)

compulsionCompulsion (1959)

Directed by: Richard Fleischer

Starring: Orson Welles, Dean Stockwell, Diane Varsi


Compulsion is based on an actual murder case from the 20’s, only with the addition of Orson Welles as the greatest defense lawyer ever. The same case was previously turned into a movie by Hitchcock with Rope, though I haven’t seen that movie to compare them.

Two rich college students get their thrills by committing crimes, culminating in what they plan to be the “perfect murder”. They kill a kid and hide his body in a culvert, but Dean Stockwell’s glasses are found at the scene of the crime, and the police eventually connect them to him. Through more policework, they get the culprits to confess to the crime and they hire Clarence Darrow to represent them in court.

Welles doesn’t show up until about 3/4ths of the way through this movie, but once he does show up, he completely steals the show. You can’t really be surprised by that, and it’s not undeserved because Welles acts his ass off. Even if the rest of it wasn’t this interesting mystery story from the point of view of the bad guys, it’s worth watching just for the final speech Welles tells to get the two from getting the death penalty.


About Reid

Born in a dumpster, died in a fire. View all posts by Reid

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