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.
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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 »
Henry Young didn't go to Alcatraz for "stealing 5 dollars." In real life, he was both a bank robber and a murderer, and had already been in at least two state prisons before landing at Alcatraz. See more »
How Kevin Bacon didn't get an Oscar, let alone a nomination is beyond me. What is wrong the the Academy? it was a better performance than Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump, I was moved to tears by the man, it's a heartbreaking performance. He should have been nominated for 'The Woodsman' as well. Great actor. But i have to say it's not an easy watch, and the violence is relentless, it reminds me of the time i once witnessed a boy get bullied at school, it just never ended and i remember feeling awful for the poor chap, the fact that it's a true story just makes me shudder. Gary Oldman gives one of the most hateful performances i've ever seen while Slater shows depth as the lawyer trying to get him out of prison as early as possible.
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