Best Movies by Farr
Compulsion Poster
Released Runtime Category
1959 103 Mystery/Thrillers
Director Language
Richard Fleischer English
Orson Welles, Dean Stockwell, Bradford Dillman, Diane Varsi


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What's it About

Setting out to prove their intellectual superiority, two rich, arrogant young law students, Judd Steiner (Stockwell) and Artie Straus (Dillman), concoct the "perfect crime," killing an adolescent boy simply to prove they can get away with it. The crime's execution is far from perfect, however, and soon the two are nabbed. The defendants' parents then engage the country's top defense lawyer, Jonathan Wilk (Welles), to save the boys from the death penalty.

Why we love it

Based on the bizarre Leopold-Loeb murder case that gripped the nation back in the mid-1920s, Fleischer's eerie "Compulsion" is a tense, stylish true-crime thriller. Actors Stockwell and Dillman bring the homicidal duo's sick, gay-inflected relationship to creepy life in the movie's first half; while a wily and disheveled Welles, standing in for real-life attorney Clarence Darrow, takes over in the second half, delivering an electrifying closing argument in court that alone is worth the price of admission. This is one "Compulsion" you won't mind having.

BEST MOVIES BY FARR is your personal guide to great movies to rent, stream, or buy; to watch at home or on-the-go. Led by film advocate John Farr, the Best Movies by Farr team works as a "quality filter" for the discerning moviegoer. Every day, we bring you the best of the best, the fantastic familiar films and hidden gems, to answer that age-old question: "What should we watch tonight?"