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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


One broke his silence. The other broke the system. 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
See  »

Did You Know?


One of three cinema movies featuring actors Gary Oldman and Kevin Bacon. The movies are JFK (1991), Criminal Law (1988), and Murder in the First (1995). 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 »


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

Crazy Credits

This Film is Inspired by a True Story See more »


Referenced in The Very Very Big Company (2008) See more »


God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen!
Traditional English Christmas, earliest known publication 1833
Sung by Alcatraz wives and children
See more »

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User Reviews

21 October 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Having caught up again with this film on t.v., I can only support all other commentators who have observed how utterly ridiculous is the American Academy Award system for not having even nominated the utterly brilliant performance by Kevin Bacon in this film for the best actor award, let alone in not giving him the damned thing! I am always impressed by whatever Kevin Bacon does, and am constantly surprised that he is one of those stars who always seems to creep under the public's radar of appreciation and awareness. As to the comments about the film not exactly being the "true" story of Henri Young, there again it always come down to the precise meaning and interpretation of a film's initial caveat of "inspired by a true story". Certainly, the film will have me searching the internet for more of the "true" facts of this harrowing story. And whether exactly the film was totally "true" or not, as any visitor to Alcatraz (as I have been myself) can tell you, just imagine yourself in any part of that prison in its heyday and say whether any filmic representation needs to be totally 100% accurate to convey the horrendous nature of what it must have been like there. Returning to the antics of the members of the U.S. Academy Award, their failures over this Kevin Bacon performance remind me of the time they robbed Cate Blanchett for her out of this world outstanding performance in "Elizabeth" in favour of that whimpering blonde piece of fluffy air Gwyneth Paltrow for the paltry "Shakespeare in Love".

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