The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: January 14-20

01/14/2015 1:00 PM |

Richard Fleischer Compulsion Orson Welles_1959

Compulsion (1959)
Directed by Richard Fleischer
A mashup of Rope, In Cold Blood and Inherit the Wind, this fictionalized retelling of the Leopold and Loeb case charts the plotting of their infamous crime, the police investigation and the subsequent trial, climaxing with a fictionalized Clarence Darrow’s classic cri-de-coeur against capital punishment. Fleischer brings to it style and occasional jazz-wailing verve, teasing out the underlying homoeroticism—particularly in Dean Stockwell’s brittle, brooding, boyish, fit-to-burst biddability—that Tom Kalin would later forefront in Swoon. Orson Welles, as “Darrow,” delivers cinema’s most exhausted performance (at least until Stellan Skarsgård’s in Insomnia); baggy-eyed and jowly, with tie loosed and vest unbuttoned, he steals the third act with his sluggish pipe-sucking, wise-cracking and brow-sopping, top-billed even though he doesn’t show up until 67 minutes in. Henry Stewart (Jan 20, 12:45pm, 5:10pm, 9:30pm at Film Forum’s Welles centennial)