The Detective - (1968) Directed by Gordon Douglas
Starring Frank Sinatra, Lee Remick, Ralph Meeker, Jack Klugman
Frank Sinatra is amazing as Det, Sgt. (later Det. Lt.) Joe Leland. Leland is tough, straight-forward, and as an idea or two about what's right and what's wrong, getting him to change his mind about either is like, well, lets just say you'd save a breath by simply asking for a confrontation. Confrontation, or a fist to the sternum! This film is well acted, as well as it is bold, in fact, main character Leland and the Story are at constant rivalry over who's the bigger badass.
Lee Remick plays Sinatra's beautiful, nymphomaniac wife. Most of their relationship is played out in flashbacks that give the film's date away through a dreamy dissolve that, in my opinion, seems humorous and out of place. I'm guessing without the dissolves the film might become too confusing to follow, as one might not know he or she is watching a flashback. I wonder if Christopher Nolan is a fan of this film? This is mostly because without the dissolves, The Detective would be a dual-linear story, recalling or pre-calling, Memento and The Following.
I was surprised to see some of these subjects in the film, homosexuality, nymphomania, class struggle, and police corruption, treated so seriously and maturely. Leland is the hero but by the end of the film he loses his job, earlier in the film he and Karen (Remick) separate, and after the film we don't know if Leland's exposing of City Officials even has the slightest of impact on any one other than himself. I love that. I'm trying to remember if there were any scenes in the film without Leland.
Compulsion - (1959) Directed by Richard Fleischer
Starring Orson Welles, Diane Varsi, Dean Stockwell
Based on true events. Richard Fleischer directs Dean Stockwell and Bradford Dillman as wealthy law-school students who wish to express their superior intellect by partaking in the social experiment of cold-blooded murder. The perfect crime is later foiled when Judd Steiner (Stockwell) is questioned for his lost eyeglasses that were found near the body of the murder victim.
Dean Stockwell, who will later become Number One, John Cavin, in the Battlestar Galactica revival is really cold and scalpel-sharp as Judd Steiner. Arty Straus, played by Dillman is Judd's other half and together they planned a kidnapping gone wrong, that eventually resulted in a murder mystery.
I love how the film's star, Orson Welles doesn't show up until halfway through the film but when he does...its over! I don't mean that the film ends, no, on the contrary, it just gets started. Welles plays Jonathan Wilk, a righteous defense attorney, who is noted for his atheism and stand against the death penalty, as well as helping low-income clients pro bono. Wilks changes the defense's plea of not guilty to guilty and fights for the boy's natural rights to live, rather than be executed by the state if found guilty. Welles delivers a great speech at the end of the trial, which is another reason why his being absent for most of the film affects his powerful performance in the last quarter of the murder mystery turned law-crime drama.
Both Compulsion and The Detective are about understanding others, not just judging them. You can judge a person based on what you believe is right and wrong; but you also need to understand that this person's definition to either term is different from yours, Society may be a unified body but the cells within it are individuals, each unique and not necessarily all in agreement, especially since there are many facets to an individual's background, a backstory that supports and is responsible for that person's mental development and his/her perspective. If we could all understand one another, eliminate barriers between one another and empathize; then there, there is where we can begin to help one another. Law and Justice are not defined terms, they are ideas that have to constantly be reinterpreted, as they are constantly tested; and they change depending on social opinion, not social fact.