Synopsis: In Chicago in 1924, Artie Strauss and Judd Steiner are friends and fellow law students who come from wealthy backgrounds. They have few true friends as they believe all their contemporaries to be intellectually inferior. Although Judd acts arrogantly towards others his inherent weakness is understood and exploited by Artie and indeed Judd appears to relish his submissiveness to Artie. Part of their goal in life, influenced perhaps by their admiration for Nietzsche, is to experience how it feels to do anything one pleases. They thus plot to commit what they consider the perfect crime - a kidnapping and murder - not only in order to experience killing for killing's sake, but also - especially in Artie's case - to taunt the authorities after the fact. They believe themselves above the law. The actual killing of little Paulie Kessler, and the subsequent attempts to cover their tracks, are not so perfect however. Sid Brooks, a fellow student (who also works for the Globe newspaper) whom the
Director(s): Richard Fleischer
Production: Fox
  Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 win & 4 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
103 min

To the perfect crime.

Crime! Oh, my wealthy

fraternity brothers.

Sixty-seven dollars!

And a secondhand typewriter.

I told you to leave it alone.

No, you were so scared, you froze to it.

It was the first time, Artie.

The next time, it'll be all right.

If there is a next time.

When we made the deal,

you said you could take orders.

You said you wanted me

to command you.

I do. As long as you keep your part

of the agreement.

What was the big idea of that?

- There was a man in the road.

You didn't even see him. - Yes, I did.

Take it easy, Artie. You'll get us stuck.

- Hey! Come back here!

- All right.

You drive.

Come back here.

I want to talk to you.

- Tryin' to kill somebody?

- He's drunk. We'd better get out of here.

- You can't get away with anything like that!

- Wait a minute.

- Stop!

- Think you're smart, don't ya?

- What?

- That way.

You come back here,

I'll show you who's smart.

He's asking for it.

Give it to him.

That's an order, Judd.


Hit him. Hit him!

- We almost killed him.

- A drunk.

Who'd have known

about it, anyway?

- It would have been murder.

- Uh-huh.

And you know why

I tried it, Juddsie?

Because I damn well

felt like it.

That's why.


- Artie, we're home. Artie!

- Bang!

I was just thinkin' about the fraternity house

in the morning.

Everybody running around accusing

everybody else, nobody knowing it was us.

- Can you see 'em, Juddsie?

- Yeah.

Artie, listen.

- About missing that drunk on the road.

- Forget it.

I'll get another crack

at him some night.

When I'm alone.


Can you picture those

poor saps at the fratern

You were only fooling about

there not being a next time, weren't you?

Was I?

Please, Artie.

I'll do anything you say.


I wanna do something

really dangerous.

Something that'll have everybody talking,

not just a few guys.

With half the fatheaded cops

in Chicago running around in circles...

wondering about it while we sat back

and laughed at 'em, huh?

Yes, but together, Artie.

Something perfect. Something brilliant.

The true test of the superior intellect,

with every little detail worked out.

And dangerous really dangerous.

That's the only way it'd be any fun.

- Yes.

- Ah.

You'd get panicky again.

No, I wouldn't.

It must be done

as an experiment.

Detached, with

no emotional involvement.

And no reason for it,

except to show that we can do it.

We can do it.


Okay, genius.

- Go home and get some sleep.

- I'll call you tomorrow?


Where have you been?

Father was worried about the car.

- And you too.

- And me too?

That's very touching.

Apparently, his concern for me...

- didn't give him insomnia.

- Don't be a smart aleck. Where were you?

Up to some funny business

with Artie again?

- As if I didn't know.

- Then why bother to ask?

Wait a minute.

I want to talk to you.

I don't think we have

anything in common, Max.

And take your hand off my arm.

I don't have to answer to you.

Or anybody else, eh, kid?

Outside of Artie,

and your... birds.

You don't give a damn about

anything else in the world, do you?

- Does my interest in ornithology

annoy you that much? - Don't be a fool.

I'd delighted with your success.

It just irritates me...

to see anyone as

brilliant as you make...

A jackass out of yourself

over someone like Artie Strauss.

I see.

For your information,

my dear brother Max...

Artie Strauss happens to have

one of the most brilliant

I know all about Artie Strauss...

and his mind.

I have no doubt you both have

twice the brains that I have...

I'd just like to see you

use 'em for once...

on something beside

cheating old ladies at bridge...

and giggling and scheming

in your room all afternoon.

Don't you ever go to a baseball game,

or chase girls or anything?

When I was your age

I'm sure you had some

fascinating experiences, Max.

But some other time.

I don't expect any

consideration for myself.

But Artie happens to be a gentleman.

Something I doubt you'd understand.

Oh, I understand, all right. Would you like me

to tell you something else about him?

- I think he's a dirty, evil-minded

- You keep your filthy mouth shut!

- I don't have to listen to your insinuations,

and I won't! - You're waking up the house!

- I don't care! - All right, cool down.

I know that Artie's your friend...

but I'm older than you, and I know

what kind of trouble you can get into.

- Let go of me.

- I worry about you. Will you listen to me?

Judd! Listen to

Tribal code of,

"An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth".

It's always been the basic instinct

of man to govern himself.

Professor McKinnon,

I must agree with Nietzsche.

Tribal codes and such do not necessarily

apply to the leaders of society.

No. No, Mr. Steiner...

I can't see where your friend

Nietzsche's theories...

have any application

at all here.

Hammurabi, Moses,

Solon, Justinian

they were all known

as lawgivers.

Actually, my question was

whether Moses and the others...

felt that they themselves

had to obey those laws.

All men are bound

by law, Mr. Steiner.

And had Nietzsche been a lawyer instead

of a German philosopher...

he would have

known that, too.

Are you going to tell me

that Moses felt himself...

above the laws that he laid down

for his own people?

Oh, I don't know, sir.

He had a motley crew on his hands, and he

Rate this script:5.0 / 1 vote

Richard Murphy

All Richard Murphy scripts | Richard Murphy Scripts

0 fans

Submitted on August 05, 2018

Discuss this script with the community:



    Translate and read this script in other languages:

    Select another language:

    • - Select -
    • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
    • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
    • Español (Spanish)
    • Esperanto (Esperanto)
    • 日本語 (Japanese)
    • Português (Portuguese)
    • Deutsch (German)
    • العربية (Arabic)
    • Français (French)
    • Русский (Russian)
    • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
    • 한국어 (Korean)
    • עברית (Hebrew)
    • Gaeilge (Irish)
    • Українська (Ukrainian)
    • اردو (Urdu)
    • Magyar (Hungarian)
    • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
    • Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Italiano (Italian)
    • தமிழ் (Tamil)
    • Türkçe (Turkish)
    • తెలుగు (Telugu)
    • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
    • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
    • Čeština (Czech)
    • Polski (Polish)
    • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Românește (Romanian)
    • Nederlands (Dutch)
    • Ελληνικά (Greek)
    • Latinum (Latin)
    • Svenska (Swedish)
    • Dansk (Danish)
    • Suomi (Finnish)
    • فارسی (Persian)
    • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
    • հայերեն (Armenian)
    • Norsk (Norwegian)
    • English (English)


    Use the citation below to add this screenplay to your bibliography:


    "Compulsion" STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 28 May 2024. <>.

    We need you!

    Help us build the largest writers community and scripts collection on the web!


    The Studio:

    ScreenWriting Tool

    Write your screenplay and focus on the story with many helpful features.