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RICHARD FLEISCHER'S TRUE CRIME ADAPTATION OF 'COMPULSION'

Poster for Dean Stockwell and Bradford Dillman in COMPULSION Year: 1959 Rating: ****1/2

In-between the late Dean Stockwell's green-haired child actor days and the likeable chubby fella leaping through time TV-era, he was a handsome young man but always with a gritty edge... 

Befitting perfectly alongside a more jovially crooked Bradford Dillman in COMPULSION directed by Richard Fleischer, who had trouble with the first-billed/third-act star Orson Welles (for tax issues more than attitude), providing a walloping anti-death penalty speech lasting ten minutes... yet by that time the best scenes had long passed...

Bradford Dillman in COMPULSION Judas Goat scene with Dean Stockwell

The third and fourth billed stars carry the picture from before and after they decide to kill a young boy for the hell of it, leaving out the crime altogether (like Quentin Tarantino would years later in RESERVOIR DOGS)...

Taken from the original thrill kill rich kids Leopold & Loeb case, changed to Judd Steiner and Artie Strauss ala Stockwell and Dillman respectively, COMPULSION is adapted from the Meyer Levin novel where even HE has a  role in the form of Martin Milner as a young working-class reporter, lacking the trust funds of his college mates turned murderers...

E.G. Marshall in COMPULSION with Dean Stockwell and Gavin Macleod

Ironically both Stockwell and Dillman would later play murder victims on COLUMBO (in different episodes); and the pivotal middle-section here wields those kind of cat-and-mouse mind games from prosecutor E.G. Marshall... 

His scenes interviewing politely while surreptitiously interrogating each suspect is as suspenseful and tense as things get, despite the audience already knowing the historic outcome...

Bradford Dillman helping Columbo-villain style in COMPULSION with Robert F. Simon

But it's the boys during their short-lived good times before the cops move in (because of the real life clue of Leopold/Stockwell dropping his glasses at the crime scene) where COMPULSION really shines: including scenes where Dillman helps the investigators by naming names of his former bullying schoolteachers as possible culprits... 

And it's especially intriguing when the book-smart killers discuss philosophy (particularly Friedrich Nietzsche), romance, violence and risk-taking... and how it all somehow connects...

Dean Stockwell in COMPULSION opposite Bradford Dillman

Stockwell and Dillman's odd couple chemistry makes up for contrived ingenue Diana Varsi's melodramatic kinship with the reclusive Steiner (Stockwell), who's far more comfortable with his dominant male counterpart... 

Providing more than a subtle nod at a homosexual relationship, steered keenly and cautiously by Fleischer, an apt director of Film Noir able to tow the line of true crime and fictional thriller, just like the novel it's based. 

Orson Welles in COMPULSION
Orson Welles in COMPULSION
Orson Welles in COMPULSION with Richard Anderson
Orson Welles in COMPULSION with E.G. Marshall
Orson Welles in COMPULSION
Orson Welles in COMPULSION
Orson Welles in COMPULSION
Orson Welles in COMPULSION
Orson Welles in COMPULSION
Orson Welles in COMPULSION with Bradford Dillman and Dean Stockwell
Bradford Dillman and Dean Stockwell in COMPULSION

Bradford Dillman in COMPULSION with Dean Stockwell
Bradford Dillman in COMPULSION with Dean Stockwell
COMPULSION with Dean Stockwell
Bradford Dillman in COMPULSION with Dean Stockwell
Bradford Dillman in COMPULSION with Dean Stockwell
COMPULSION with Dean Stockwell
Bradford Dillman in COMPULSION with Dean Stockwell
Martin Milner replicates Meyer Levin in COMPULSION
E.G. Marshall in COMPULSION
Orson Welles in COMPULSION
Orson Welles in COMPULSION with Richard Anderson as Stockwell's brother
Orson Welles in COMPULSION with Dean Stockwell & Bradford Dillman
COMPULSION with Gavin MacLeod & Bradford Dillman
E.G. Marshall in COMPULSION with Dean Stockwell
Orson Welles commands the third act trial of COMPULSION
E.G. Marshall and Bradford Dillman in COMPULSION
E.G. Marshall and Dean Stockwell in COMPULSION
Bradford Dillman and Dean Stockwell in COMPULSION
Bradford Dillman, Dean Stockwell and Orson Welles in COMPULSION
Orson Welles and Bradford Dillman also in Fleischer's Crack in the Mirror
Bradford Dillman, Dean Stockwell and Diane Varsi in COMPULSION
Dean Stockwell in COMPULSION
Bradford Dillman in COMPULSION

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