An eager and idealistic young attorney defends an Alcatraz prisoner accused of murdering a fellow inmate. The extenuating circumstances: his client had just spent over three years in solitary confinement.
A veteran high school teacher befriends a younger art teacher, who is having an affair with one of her 15-year-old students. However, her intentions with this new "friend" also go well beyond platonic friendship.
Henri Young stole five dollars from a post office and ended up going to prison - to the most famous, or infamous, prison of them all: Alcatraz. He tried to escape, failed, and spent three years and two months in solitary confinement - in a dungeon, with no light, no heat and no toilet. Milton Glenn, the assistant warden, who was given free reign by his duty-shirking superior, was responsible for Young's treatment. Glenn even took a straight razor and hobbled Young for life. After three years and two months, Young was taken out of solitary confinement and put with the rest of the prisoners. Almost immediately, Young took a spoon and stabbed a fellow prisoner in the neck, killing him. Now, Young is on trial for murder, and if he's convicted he'll go to the gas chamber. An eager and idealistic young attorney, James Stamphill, is given this impossible case, and argues before a shocked courtroom that Young had a co-conspirator. The true murderer, he says, was Alcatraz. Written by
In real life, Henri Young's defense was handled by two prominent San Francisco attorneys, Sol A. Abrams and James Martin MacInnes. They offered the temporary insanity defense, saying that Young's brutal treatment on Alcatraz had led him to murder his fellow inmate, Rufus McCain. The jury bought the argument, and returned a verdict of Involuntary Manslaughter, largely because the Alcatraz officials who testified at Young's trial refused to provide any actual details of prisoner treatment at the prison to contradict Young's defense. (Alcatraz officials and guards lived under strict rules not to talk about prison procedures when off the island, for fear these details would make it into the newspapers and be used by criminals in breakout attempts.) See more »
In the scene when Christian Slater's character is running down the hill after the Trolley in San Fransisco, you see many cars that are appropriate for the period lining the streets. If you look closely, however, you'll see Red-Zones. There weren't Red Zones in San Fransisco during this time. See more »
This is clearly Kevin Bacon's best performance. It's a shame he was not nominated for an academy award for his role. A truly emotional movie that ranks among the top Alcatraz movies made! Gary Oldman also puts in a very solid performance. Christian Slater plays a youthful, inexperienced attorney to perfection.
In showing another side of Alcatraz the movie breaks away from typical escaped based Alcatraz films. While "Escape from Alcatraz" may still be the top movie in this topic area, "Murder in the First" provides a new twist that involves a different type of drama. Kevin Bacon was surely jilted for not being nominated here!
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