When I first starting working in the Nursing Unit at an all-male Correctional Facility, our Nursing Supervisor encouraged us to watch prison films so we could get an idea of the penal system and what it would be like to be a prisoner, to work with them, etc. We all decided to rent Murder In The First starring Kevin Bacon and Christian Slater. We definitely were not disappointed in the movie, but we were disappointed that this movie, based on a true story, was actually true and that such injustice could happen. Bacon gave a superior performance as an inmate in Alcatraz, who really did not belong there in the first place, and how Alcatraz actually turned him into a violent person.
Bacon plays Henri Young, in prison for stealing $5.00 and ends up in solitary confinement for over 3 years after trying to escape. It is a known fact that solitary confinement can make you crazy anyhow; and you wonder through the whole film; "How could this happen? How can they get by with such cruelty toward a man who did nothing wrong to get himself into a place such as Alcatraz?" As we watched this movie, none of us uttered a word and sometimes there were tears; it was that engrossing.
Also to make matters worse, Young ends up murdering an inmate after being released from his 3 years of solitary confinement. He has no one to turn to, no one to trust, and since he seems mentally challenged after spending years in the total dark, he gets confused easily and sometimes has no idea what is really going on, and is sometimes violent.
Christian Slater plays his attorney, who is trying to convince the jury during his murder trial that Alcatraz was what made him a killer; if he is convicted, he will be sent to the gas chamber.
This movie raises lots of questions: How can anyone treat a petty criminal in such a manner as to put him in confinement for years when the maximum is only 19 days? How can a prison get by with such violent and incomprehensible acts? How fair is it that a man steals $5.00 and ends up in such a maximum security place such as Alcatraz?
I must caution you that this is an emotional movie, with both sadness and a few comical parts thanks to Bacon, and Bacon out-does himself in performance; Christian Slater is also wonderful as his attorney who happens to be the only person who believes in this mad, violent and confused Henri Young. This film will definitely tug at your heart strings -- especially because of the fact that it all happened in real life. We all cried at certain parts; it was phenomenal.
I must conclude that this movie, thanks to our wonderful Nursing Supervisor, haunted all of us and made us all realize that injustice is something worth fighting against.
This movie won 2 awards in 1996: Kevin Bacon won Best Actor by The Critics Best Choice; the movie won a PFS ( Political Film Society) Award in the Human Rights Category. Kevin Bacon was also nominated for Outstanding Performance by a male actor and the movie was nominated by PFS in the Peace Category.
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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 J. Spurlin
Inspired by a true story. A petty criminal sent to Alcatraz in the 1930s is caught attempting to make an escape. As punishment, he is put in solitary confinement. The maximum stay is supposed to be 19 days, but Henri spends years alone, cold and in complete darkness, only to emerge a madman and soon to be a murderer. The story follows a rookie lawyer attempting to prove that Alcatraz was to blame, and that Henri should not be executed. Written by Rob ...