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Compulsion 59 (1959)

Director: Richard Fleischer     Starring: Orson Welles
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Learn more about Compulsion 59:

Format: DVD
Sku: 202308331
UPC: 024543238515
UPC 14: 00024543238515
Category Keywords: Law/Lawyers  Murder  Theatrical Release  True Story
Rating: NR
See more in Family & Kids
Sometime Murder is Just a Way to Pass the Time.
In this riveting true story about the notorious 1924 Leopold-loeb murder case, Orson Wells stars as the brillant Clarence Darrow whose history-making defense against capitol punishment saved two wealthy Chicago teenagers from a death sentence.System Requirements:Features: Widescreen feature with Theatrical Trailer Teaser Fox Flix: St. Valentine's Day Massacre and Murder, Inc. Running Time: 103 MinFormat: DVD MOVIE

"Absorbing version of Leopold-Loeb story with standout Welles performance.  Ken Hanke, Mountain Xpress

Editor's Note
It's Chicago and the year is 1924. Two young men are driving recklessly at night, and almost hit a drunken pedestrian. They are wealthy law students, the flamboyant Artie Straus (Bradford Dillman) constantly goading the intensely introverted Judd Steiner (Dean Stockwell) to still more outrageous escapades. Smugly feeling safe in their own superiority, the pair commit murder--just to show they can. So starts this gripping fictionalized version of the Leopold-Loeb case which shocked Americans and provoked Clarence Darrow, here fictionalized as Jonathan Wilk (Orson Welles), to make an impassioned plea that even these cold killers should not be hung.

A tough dramatization of the famous Leopold and Loeb murder case in which two college students kidnapped and killed a boy purely for kicks. Welles plays defense attorney Clarence Darrow in this adaptation of reporter Meyer Levin's novel.


Video Features DVD

Technical Info

Release Information
Video Mfg Name Studio: Foxvideo
Video Release Date Release Date: 5/23/2006
Video Play Time Running Time: 103 minutes
Video Release Year Original Release Date: 1959
Video CategoryId Catalog ID: 2233851
Video UPC UPC: 00024543238515
Video Number of Discs Number of Discs: 1

Audio & Video
Video Original Language Original Language: English
Video Audio Spec Available Audio Tracks: English, French Dubbed, Spanish Dubbed
Video Subtitle Available Subtitles: Spanish
Video Color Spec Video: B&W

Aspect Ratio
Video Aspect Ratio Anamorphic Widescreen  2.35:1

Cast & Crew

Video Cast Info Dean Stockwell
Video Cast Info Diane Varsi
Video Cast Info E. G. Marshall
Video Cast Info Orson Welles
Video Cast Info Adele Palmer - Costume Designer
Video Cast Info Lionel Newman - Original Music By
Video Cast Info Richard Fleischer - Director
Video Cast Info Richard Murphy - Writer
Video Cast Info Richard Zanuck - Producer
Video Cast Info William Mellor - Cinematographer
Video Cast Info William Reynolds - Editor
Plot Summary
The second in director Richard Fleischer's series of movies based on real life murder cases (following THE GIRL IN THE RED VELVET SWING), COMPULSION vividly recreates Chicago in the 1920s, where two wealthy psychopaths carry out a thrill killing. Fleischer draws extraordinary performances from his young leads. Bradford Dillman is dominating and dynamic as the frightening but magnetic Straus. Even more striking is Dean Stockwell; he is completely believable as the icily brilliant but withdrawn Steiner, subtly conveying initial vulnerability and growing strength. Fleischer aids both actors with his staging--flowing tracking shots to compliment Dillman's feverish movement; and subtle off-kilter camera set-ups to show the unbalanced Stockwell at home among his stuffed birds.

In spite of the brilliance of the two killers, they leave some clues, enough for district attorney Horn (E.G Marshall in a fine performance) to bring them to justice. Despite their obvious guilt, lawyer Jonathan Wilk (Orson Welles) takes on the case in order to save them from death row. Fleischer obtains a bravura performance from Welles, in one of his rare outstanding performances under a director other than himself.


British Academy Awards (1960)
   Video Award Name Richard Fleischer, Nominee, Best Film from any Source

Cannes Film Festival (1959)
Video Award Name Dean Stockwell, Bradford Dillman, Orson Welles, Winner, Best Actor

Professional Reviews

USA Today
"...The film strongly castigates capital punishment....There's good acting..." 07/14/1995 p.14D

New York Times
"COMPULSION moves with invisible elegance through three distinct point of view....Three heroes, three moral perspectives -- smoothly linked by Fleischer into a subversive whole." 05/23/2006 p.E5

3 stars out of 5 -- "Orson Welles effectively steals the show with a ruminating, then barnstorming turn..." 10/01/2010

Sight and Sound
"[T]he film is dominated by Dean Stockwell's rivetingly skin-crawling performance...." 11/01/2010

Total Film
3 stars out of 5 -- "Superbly acted by Bradford Dillman and Dean Stockwell, the mid-section grips as the authorities close in." 11/01/2010

And You Call Yourself a Scientist! 9 of 10
Impressive as the performances of Stockwell and Dillman are, even more memorable is that of Orson Welles as the boys' attorney. Leopold and Loeb were defended by Clarence Darrow, who saved them from a death penalty via an astonishing address to the court, which lasted three days. Here, the speech is compressed into a breathtaking ten-minute oration, and is delivered by Welles in an absolutely spellbinding piece of acting.

Product Attributes

Product attributeActor:   Welles,Orson
Product attributeLabel:   Fox Home Entertainment
Product attributeMusic Format:   DVD
Product attributeVideo Format:   DVD
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