“Murder’s nothing. It’s just a simple experience. Murder and rape. Do you know what beauty there is in evil?”
It’s the start of our Richard D. Zanuck tribute series, ladies and gentlemen, and what better way to begin than with the first film he produced for his father, Darryl F. Zanuck, 1959’s “Compulsion.” Based on the book of the same name by Meyer Levin about the Leopold/Loeb murder from 1924, Richard D. Zanuck puts together a top notch team of cast and crew, headed up by director Richard Fleischer, to create a film that comes in under budget and ahead of schedule.
It’s a fascinating story about two young geniuses who are convinced they can commit the perfect crime and they do — except one of them accidentally drops his glasses at the scene of the crime. The true story is horrifying, and it’s equally so in this honest film depiction.
With neither of us having seen this film before preparing for this episode, we stumbled upon a rare gem that deserves more viewers. We chat about the incredible cast headed up by Dean Stockwell and Bradford Dillman as the two murderers, Orson Welles as their lawyer, E.G. Marshall as the DA prosecuting them, Gavin MacLeod as his assistant, and Diane Varsi and Martin Milner as the friends caught up in the whole mess. We discuss Fleischer and what he brought to the table, along with William C. Mellor, the DP. We also discuss the interesting homosexual and sadomasochistic subtexts the film broaches, as well as rape and capital punishment, which for 1959 was a pretty big deal. It’s an amazing film to stumble across and the perfect start for our Richard D. Zanuck tribute series. Check the movie out on Amazon and listen in!