Friday, December 5, 2008

COMPULSION (Richard Fleischer, 1959, USA) The headlines declared the 1924 Leopold & Loeb murder case (on which this film is based) as the crime of the century! Oh, how innocent were those times and how deeply depraved our culture has become. Though rather mundane by our modern standards, two young men from wealthy families murder a cohort to prove their Nietzschean superiority (Hitchcock filmed ROPE from the same premise). Orson Welles channels Clarence Darrow and steals the film with his courtroom oration that seeks sympathy from the Court to spare these murderers and denounces the Death penalty. : The Judge spares their young lives. Fleischer wisely films in Black & White Cinemascope and utilizes the wide-angle to good effect. The acting is first-rate and the homosexual undercurrents add an unspoken drama to the story. This is one of the great “True Crime” films and should be queued immediately. (B)

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