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Murder in the First (1995)

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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.



2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mary McCasslin
D.A. William McNeil
Mr. Henkin
Byron Stamphill
Adult Rosetta Young
Ben Slack ...
Jerry Hoolihan
Warden James Humson
Blanche, Hooker
Alex Bookston ...
Alcatraz Doc (as Alexander Bookston)
Richie Allan ...
Jury Foreman
Herb Ritts ...
Mike Kelly


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 J. Spurlin

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


"I accuse Alcatraz of crimes against humanity." - The lawyer "I was a weapon, but I ain't no killer." - The accused "I am not on trial here." - The warden See more »


Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong images of prison brutalities, sexuality and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

20 January 1995 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Alcatraz - kohtaloni  »

Box Office


$17,382,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


According to Stephen Tobolowsky, Oliver Stone was originally cast as Mr. Henkin but did not show up on the day of filming. Mark Rocco called Tobolowsky to take over the role just hours before shooting. See more »


Although the movie took place in the late 1930s, all exterior shots of Alcatraz show the burned out shell of the warden's house. The warden's house on Alcatraz didn't burn down until 1970, seven years after it was closed as a prison, during the Indian Occupation of the island. See more »


[first lines]
Prison Barber: They're coming! Run!
See more »

Crazy Credits

This Film is Inspired by a True Story See more »


Referenced in Clueless (1995) See more »


Tuxedo Junction
Written by Erskine Hawkins, William Johnson, Julian Dash, and Buddy Feyne
Performed by The Andrews Sisters
Courtesy of MCA Records
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User Reviews

What about the music?
2 March 2006 | by (Cornwall, England) – See all my reviews

This film was excellent. Yes it's true that it wasn't as factually accurate as it could have been, but judged purely as a drama, it was film making at its best - superb acting, directing and cinematography. However, I would especially like to commend Christopher Young's amazing music score. It was haunting, beautiful and emotive, and contributed so much to the feel of the movie. Two scenes where the music was used to great effect: the tracking shot after Henri attacked the other prisoner, and the setting up of the court room then dissolving into an aerial shot of Alcatraz. Thank you to all concerned for making this great and moving picture - it makes me want to go and make movies!

14 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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