Father and child sit together smiling while looking at a smart phone.

Want more recommendations for your family?

Sign up for our weekly newsletter for entertainment inspiration

Parents' Guide to


By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Black-and-white classic about the Leopold-Loeb murder case.

Movie NR 1959 103 minutes
Compulsion Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

There aren't any parent reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: Not yet rated
Kids say: Not yet rated

This classic courtroom drama may not appeal to teens but could engage those who give it a chance. A great deal of Compulsion is dedicated to a long, impassioned anti-death penalty homologue delivered by the defense attorney. He argues that evil is not snuffed out by killing but through kindness and love, and that killing the admitted murderers would accomplish nothing but more violence. The film is talkier and slower paced than younger audiences may be used to. Also the smug, superior, privileged ways of 1920s wealth, as portrayed by Dillman and Stockwell, may seem off-putting to the point of unbelievability to modern audiences.

Welles, in putty nose and heavy makeup, plays Wilks with his own brand of understated superiority, always ready with an apt retort. When he invokes the name of God, a defendant calls him a hypocrite, citing the lawyer's famed position as an atheist. Wilks replies that he has given the existence of God a lot of thought but has "come to no conclusions." In real life, Loeb (Artie) was murdered in prison. Leopold managed parole after 33 years.

Movie Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate