A solid, well acted docu-drama that, near the end, suffers from an over abundance of preachy thespianism. It's one thing to cast the legendary Orson Welles as a Clarence Darrow-ish defense attorney in an obviously anti death penalty message film, but it's awfully highhanded to let him rant incessantly about the barbarics of capital punishment. In effect, he's not a cast member with a script who is reciting monologue to a judge, he's an actor with an agenda speaking to us (the audience).
A memorable but highly liberal classic.
2) Dean Stockwell is fun to watch in an early role, and odd that it's a re-telling of the case that inspired Hitchcock's Rope as Stockwell comes off like a precursor to Norman Bates (though made to seem a little more, uh, 'sympathetic'-ish?)
The screenplay derives from a well-researched novel; only the names were changed, a lame (and unsuccessful) attempt to avoid legal entanglements. Mid-Century censorship standards required the film to skirt the duo's homosexual entanglement.
The big delivery here is Orson Welles as the duo's defense lawyer (who was in fact Clarence Darrow) in what was dubbed - 70 years before OJ - "The Trial of the Century." However the rest of the major cast members also do their jobs very well.
The film's reminiscent of "In Cold Blood" (1967) in that this is not a highly dramatic or gory telling, but rather a subtle yet engaging one, made so mostly by the true-enough oddities of its protagonists.
Hitch delivered (well) a more fictionalized presentation of this duo in "Rope" (1948). But here in this film are the real details, where a pair of monied-up, spoiled-rotten bookworms who called their mothers "Mumsy" killed just for the thrill of an intellectual exercise.
RECOMMENDATION: Well spent viewing.
Two rich kids in law school decide to try and get away with murder. One student is more of a leader and the follower is a bit of a tool. They feed off each other through the act all the way down to the arrest and their story for the police. Can the police get one of these two law experts to confess?
"And you know why I tried it? Because I damn well felt like it."
Richard Fleischer, director of Conan the Destroyer, Red Sonja, Amityville 3-D, Mandingo, See No Evil, Mr. Majestyk, Tora! Tora! Tora!, and Doctor Dolittle, delivers Compulsion. The storyline for this picture is actually pretty interesting and caught me off guard. The transition from reckless school boys to courtroom drama was beautiful. The acting was magnificent and the cast includes Orson Welles, Dean Stockwell, Diane Varsi, Bradford Dillman, and Martin Milner.
"How many languages do you speak?"
I DVR'd this picture because it starred the great Orson Welles. I was surprised that it took so long for him to become a major part of the film, but it completely worked. The entire film comes together perfectly all the way until the final line is delivered. This is an excellent film that is interesting and definitely worth a viewing.
"That weakling. That inferior child."
Richard Fleischer maintains tone of film by preserving it in b&w, this definitely hypes the level insanity of some characters, weakness of mere folks ridiculed on the grounds of ostentatious flamboyancy by rich people. Whole cast gives applauding performance. Good editing, and excellent cinematography by William C. Mellor.
NOTE: Orson Welles makes movie worth-watching, appearing almost after 1hr, film has actually passed.