Murder in the First (1995)

R  |   |  Drama, Thriller  |  20 January 1995 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 20,779 users  
Reviews: 109 user | 39 critic

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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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


£804,934 (UK) (15 December 1995)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


While filming courtroom scenes, the location was hit by the 6.7 Northridge, California, earthquake. Kevin Bacon was handcuffed to a large table, he took refuge underneath, while an enormous crystal chandelier swung overhead. The warehouse studio was later condemned. 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 »


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

Crazy Credits

This Film is Inspired by a True Story See more »


References Meet John Doe (1941) See more »


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Written by Erskine Hawkins, William Johnson, Julian Dash, and Buddy Feyne
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User Reviews

Not Exactly the True Story
26 November 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This was a very entertaining film about the horrible treatment of a certain prisoner at Alcatraz named Henri Young who robbed a store for five dollars ($5.00) and was sent to prison. Henri Young was played by Kevin Bacon who did a fantastic job of acting and captured your attention through out the film. There were many scenes filmed on the Island of Alcatraz and some old time footage of the first time Warden of Alcatraz, James R. Johnston. Christian Slater, (James Stamphill) was the lawyer assigned for Henri Young's defense, who had a hard job trying to rehabilitate his client so he could stand trial and even speak a few words. Young was in such bad shape mentally from being put into the solitary confinement for three (3) years, he was like an animal instead of a human being. This Hollywood version is not all completely true about Henri Young, he really had a long history of crime and mental problems. However, this film is very entertaining and Kevin Bacon put his heart and soul into this role. Enjoy.

16 of 22 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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