I am a cop.  You are not, and I’ve just ordered you to do something distasteful.  Will you do it?  You might say, “Of course not” — but there are scientific studies proving that, more likely than not, you will.

That’s the moral dilemma faced by several characters in Compliance, writer-director Craig Zobel’s squirm-inducing drama based on a series of real-life telephone hoaxes perpetrated in the early 2000s.  On paper (see sidebar below), what happened to employees of a rural McDonald’s outlet stretches credulity.  It’s to Zobel’s credit that, after watching his dramatization of the incident, the behavior of several unfortunate fast-food workers doesn’t seem that far-fetched.

A summary:  A man calls the restaurant and, claiming to be a police officer, asks to speak to the manager.  The “cop” informs her that one of her employees is accused of stealing from a customer.  Police, this man says, are at the moment short-handed, and would the manger mind helping them out?  Would she please begin by strip-searching the female employee?




Ridiculous, you say.  Even should the manager acquiesce to this absurd request, certainly the young girl would have none of it.  Ah, but you are not an 18-year-old girl from the sticks of Kentucky (Ohio in the movie), needful of your job, intimidated by police, and conditioned — as most of us are — to respect authority.  The stressed-out manager succumbs, the fearful girl succumbs and, once the manager’s middle-aged fiancé enters the picture, a relatively harmless prank escalates to sexual assault.

I have no idea how true-to-life the proceedings are in Compliance, but Zobel’s step-by-step direction and some superb acting by Ann Dowd, as the manager, make the outrageous seem plausible.  That is, plausible until the sex assault.  The motivations of both parties to that event are … curious, at least to me.

Zobel claims that his film is a composite of scores of similar telephone hoaxes that plagued the Midwest 10 years ago, but the plot of Compliance adheres closely to the recorded facts of the Kentucky incident.  Not so the ending, in which it’s implied that the bad guy gets caught.  In reality, the primary suspect in the hoax was acquitted of all charges.         Grade:  B+


Comply3  Comply4


Director:  Craig Zobel  Cast:  Ann Dowd, Dreama Walker, Pat Healy, Bill Camp, Philip Ettinger, James McCaffrey, Matt Servitto, Ashlie Atkinson  Release:  2012




                                                  Watch the Trailer (click here)







Above:  Ogborn and Nix during the assault, from security video.


Never mind those stories you hear about “stranger danger” on the Internet; one of the most successful scams of the early 2000s involved nothing more than that relic of low-tech communication, the humble telephone.

On April 9, 2004, someone claiming to be a police officer called McDonald’s assistant manager Donna Summers.  Using a combination of guile and homework (the caller knew the actual name of Summers’s regional manager), the fake cop spun a tale of customer theft and asked Summers to strip search employee Louise Ogborn, who was then 18.  Later (the incident went on for several hours), Summers’s fiancé, Walter Nix, continued to follow “officer Scott’s” instructions — including a spanking of the naked girl and the coercion of oral sex from her.  Eventually, employees grew suspicious and contacted the real police.

Nix went to prison and Ogborn successfully sued McDonald’s.  But “officer Scott” was never found.  Said a (genuine) police detective assigned to the case:  “There was a lot of things, in my mind, that I think they [Summers and Nix] could have done — and I don’t understand why they didn’t do them.”



Above:  Nix, at left, and Ogborn leaving court.




Below, part of the actual security video:



© 2010-2023 (text only)



  1. Vanessa February 11, 2013 7:52 pm  Reply

    You should remove the stills of the actual Louise Ogborn. Have you no sympathy? Victimize her all over again, why don’t you?

    Think about it.

    • brigitta March 3, 2013 6:26 pm  Reply

      I agree with you!! Take these off … have you no shame??!!

  2. Mike M March 11, 2013 5:08 pm  Reply

    The pictures are readily available and she isn’t a minor, there is no harm done here that her nativity hasn’t already done. Great article. The movie was creepy but very well done.

    I think everyone involved should have been arrested for sheer stupidity.

    • Bandit March 28, 2013 10:00 pm  Reply

      @Mike M
      You are saying “The pictures are readily available…there is no harm done that her nativity hasn’t already done”.
      So, then if she (or anyone) was ‘naive’ to, for further example, ‘get raped’, it’s OK to continue raping her, and/or rape her on further/future occasions, since “…there is no harm done…” since it’s already been done.

      Meaning, since the pictures are out there anyway, it’s OK for grouchyeditor to also continue to propagate them and maintain the denigration of the victim, rather than doing a ‘right thing’ by choosing to blur Louise’s genitals/breasts out of respect.

      That’s the same losing position as “well Officer, everyone else is speeding so it’s OK for my to also” or “OJ Simpson got away with murder, so it’s OK for me to murder and get away with it too”. No, something is still disrespectful no matter the context nor how many times it is done. Doing a ‘wrong thing’ over and over doesn’t make it right.

      segway: When watching the ABC Primetime and 20/20 segments on the real-life incident that Compliance is based on, the McDonald’s ass-manager Donna Summers shows clearly how despicable she is by completely denying facts and having *NO* remorse whatsoever.
      (e.g. Donna Summers said Louise was covered the whole time – note, if that was so, then why did Donna Summers, after reviewing the security tape, call off her engagement to Nix the other perp? If everything that happened was appropriate and Nix didn’t do anything bad, you wouldn’t immediately call off something as significant as an engagement.)

      • Mike M March 29, 2013 7:44 am  Reply

        I said they all should be arrested. Everyone involved is an idiot. I think getting raped is a far cry from what happened here though. Not justifying what was done, but you have to be pretty damn stupid to go along with this. She was 18 years old. If she was younger than she’d get a pass, but 18? It’s more difficult to give her any sympathy because she’s an adult. She should have known right off the bat that was was amiss, even while the other grown-ups were still being stupid. Hill the one friend knew almost immediately the call was probably bullshit. But again, I still think everyone involved, who knew and watched, should be in jail. If that makes sense.

  3. Kimberley April 25, 2013 1:57 am  Reply

    Im curious sir, where did you get the footage of her preforming oral sex on this man? I know that the video was leaked on the internet, which is typical of today. However, I thought that her sexual assault footage was under wraps pretty good.

    • grouchyeditor April 25, 2013 1:55 pm  Reply

      An Internet search months ago. There is, or was, footage of this incident on dozens of sites.

      • Kimberley April 25, 2013 3:23 pm  Reply

        Really, I did a deep search and cannot the full uncensored footage. I know it sounds horrid, but I was actually hoping to show the full video to my students. I teach abnormal psychology at a local college. If you could send me a link, I would be appreciative. Thanks

        • grouchyeditor April 25, 2013 5:47 pm  Reply

          Sorry, but that was months ago and we have no recollection of the specific site.

          • Kimberley April 25, 2013 5:53 pm 

            No problem, thank you for giving my inquiry such attention. I have been searching around and it seems it is an obsession of sorts among a great many seekers. If by random you do come across it again, let me know. Thanks again.


  4. Joe November 16, 2013 10:56 am  Reply

    I think Louise Ogborn has a nice body. Nothing to be ashamed of.

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