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
The trial that brought down Alcatraz
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Did You Know?
In an extract for Murder in the First (1995), from a CINEFILE in the 2006 fourteenth edition of Time Out, critic and film historian Geoffrey Macnab wrote: "The film is loosely based on a true story, but director Marc Rocco has taken huge liberties with the subject matter. Young was not the innocent country boy portrayed here. Nor were the warders quite as barbaric as Rocco suggests. (In one shocking scene, we see Warden Glenn slash Young's Achilles tendon with a razor to ensure that he'll never again try to escape.) The claims that Young's case precipitated the closure of Alcatraz don't add up either. The teenager was tried in 1941, 20 years before the prison was shut down. As a protest film, Murder in the First is over 30 years too late. None the less, this is a riveting courtroom drama, buoyed by intensely committed performances from former Bratpack stars, Slater and Bacon". Kevin Bacon played Henri Young imprisoned in Alcatraz, Gary Oldman played the brutally sadistic warden Milton Glenn and Christian Slater played Young's lawyer James Stamphill. See more
During the first meeting between Young and Stamphill in the open holding cell, the guard in the background disappears and reappears between shots. See more
They're coming! Run!
This Film is Inspired by a True Story See more
Referenced in Clueless
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen!
Traditional English Christmas, earliest known publication 1833
Sung by Alcatraz wives and children See more