COMPULSION was released in 1959.
COMPULSION is one of three movies based on the Leopold-Loeb case--the others are ROPE (1948) and SWOON (1992).
While Fleischer doesn't appear to have taken anything from Alfred Hitchcock's ROPE--an earlier version of the Leopold-Loeb case, based on a play by Patrick Hamilton and noted for its experiments with 10-minute takes--there are interesting similarities between Hitchcock's PSYCHO and Fleischer's COMPULSION, which was released a year earlier: black-and-white imagery; Stockwell's edgy intensity, which rivals that of Perkins; and an obsession with stuffed birds.
In his memoir, JUST TELL ME WHEN TO CRY, Fleischer reveals that--unlike most actors who highly value eye contact when playing a scene--Orson Welles did not like to be watched by the actors he was playing to. As a result, in COMPULSION's courtroom scenes, when Welles is addressing E.G. Marshall and his assistants who are sitting in a row, and Fleischer's camera is peering at Welles over Marshall's shoulder, E.G. and the assistants were all listening intently with their eyes closed.
E.G. Marshall's portrayal of District Attorney Horn lead to his long successful run in the title role of the television series MR. DISTRICT ATTORNEY.
Meyer Levin's novel COMPULSION spent 54 weeks on the best-seller list before it was made into a film. The film production followed a successful theatrical version of the novel on Broadway, which had starred Dean Stockwell.
Cinematographer William C. Mellor used a technique he called "subliminal perception." Whenever the characters of Leopold and Loeb appeared on screen, he would tilt the camera slightly or cut off part of their heads to achieve a subtle, disarming effect.
Orson Welles' climactic 15 minute speech, which needed 3 cameras and 7,000 feet of film to capture, was so popular that an audio version was released on LP.
Production on the film began in the summer of 1958.
The final production cost of the film was $1.5 million.
The Cannes Film Festival presented its Best Actor award to all three leading men: Orson Welles, Dean Stockton, and Bradford Dillman.
The film was pulled from distribution soon after its release because Nathan Leopold, who was paroled in 1958, filed a $1.5 million invasion of privacy suit against the author, his publishers, and the producers of the film. Finally, in 1968, the courts ruled against Leopold, claiming that the case was in the public domain and that the film was once again available for distribution.
Cannes Best Actor 1959 Bradford Dillman American actor
Cannes Best Actor 1959 Dean Stockwell American Actor
Cannes Best Actor 1959 Orson Welles Director/screenwriter/actor, CITIZEN KANE