Murder in the First Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ December 11, 2006
A young convict imprisoned in Alcatraz murders a fellow inmate after spending three years being brutally beaten in solitary confinement. Murder in The First is a courtroom drama based upon the true story of a man who was transformed into a murderer on the brink of insanity by his merciless treatment at the hands of the American penal system in the infamous state prison. Kevin Bacon takes centre stage as the broken shell of a man and although his performance is a little affected, it's still a harrowing tale that shocked the nation at the time. The superior cast, including Gary Oldman as the cold and ruthless governor and William H. Macy as the district attorney looking for an open and shut case, are what make the film in general; the direction can be slightly clumsy and the script writer a little too fond of "dictionary definitions", but it's an important and moving story that the viewer cannot help but be drawn into. One of those films that works because it was a true story and although a little melodramatic its button pushing works for rather than against it as a result.
Super Reviewer
½ December 18, 2011
James Stamphill: Unlike many men who lived long after, Henry Young did not die in vain. In the end he was not afraid. He lived and he died in triumph. If only we could all do that. 

"One broke his silence. The other broke the system."

I did not for the most part like Murder in the First. Most of that came from my general distaste for the lead, Christian Slater. Everything he does in this movie irritates me. The rest of the cast is amazing though, especially Kevin Bacon, who gives one of the better performances I have seen from him. Gary Oldman and William H. Macy are also good, but they have such small roles that they don't really affect my feelings toward the movie. 

Murder in the First is the true story of Henri Young, a man who was convicted of stealing $5 and sent to Alcatraz. He tried to escape, but was unsuccessful and ended up being put in solitary confinement. There was supposed to be a limit on how long a man could stay in solitary and that was 19 days. Henri was stuck there for three years and when he came out he killed the man who narced him out. The rest of the movie is an average courtroom drama that seems really fabricated. I don't that that is the case necessarily, but nothing the film really felt genuine. It seems as if a lot of liberties were taken in approaching this story.

It is still a worthwhile film to watch because of that performance from Kevin Bacon as Henri and of course because the story is a pretty interesting one. I just think this could have been done so much better and that it could have benefited from having a better lead. He isn't a terrible actor, but he is just all wrong in this role. Christian Slater seems more at home in movies like Very Bad Things. 
Super Reviewer
September 6, 2010
I thought this was just another boring prison drama, but it is based on a true story, which makes it slightly more interesting. If you like prison dramas, you'll like it better than me.
Super Reviewer
November 29, 2009

The producers wanted authenticity so Bacon, Slater and Oldman spent some of their free time locked in jail cells while the movie was being filmed. Kevin Bacon even lost twenty pounds for his role as the Alcatraz inmate.
Super Reviewer
½ November 30, 2007
Great cast. Not sure how much of this movie is 'acurate', it almost sounds like in real life it was just some lame way to keep a guy from dying, but I'm sure it was a pretty awful place. This will help expand to me some more great actors to the 'Seven Degrees of Keven Bacon' game.
Super Reviewer
January 14, 2007
This is a bit on the graphic side, and It has a bittersweet ending -- Kevin's character gave his life to fix the broken prison system -- Christian Slater was also very good --
Super Reviewer
October 18, 2006
A rewatch, enjoyed it much better than my first viewing, interesting to learn about Alcatraz and the story was inspired by true events.

Kevin Bacon plays a very good role in this as a petty criminal imprisioned for a small crime, who suffers bad treatment at the hands of the prison staff..

VERDICT: Those who have interest in the true stories/prison filsm will enjoy this film
Super Reviewer
½ August 11, 2007
A realistic visit to Alcatraz with poor Kevin Bacon suffering through it all. Very cold movie without much cheer.
Super Reviewer
July 15, 2007
Sad movie about a guy on death row.
Super Reviewer
½ June 26, 2007
A good legal film, I think it's based on a true story. Whilst on Alcatraz an inmate guilty of stealing $5 of sweets as a boy, commits murder after spending ages in solitary confinement. Is he to blame or the brutal regime? Great performance from Kevin Bacon.
Super Reviewer
January 27, 2012
Guy in prison picks Christian Slater as his lawyer. Do we need to go furtehr?
Super Reviewer
½ February 6, 2013
Historical inaccuracies aside, its still an effective argument against the inherent hypocrisies and brutality of the American penitentiary system which really hasn't changed much since the 1940s unfortunately.
Super Reviewer
November 4, 2010
Henri Young (Kevin Bacon) is sent to Alcatraz for theft but when he attempts an escape he is thrown into solitary confinement, and kept there for over three years. During that time he is regularly beaten, starved and hideously abused by the prison warden (Gary Oldman).

The story is chilling and dark and Kevin Bacon is riveting in his role as a prisoner made to suffer the mental anguish of solitary confinement. His portrayal is not only outstanding but is emotionally draining to watch.

When he is finally released into general prison population he snaps and in a sudden, insane rage, plunges a spoon into the throat of a fellow inmate, one who had foiled the escape attempt by ratting on him. A novice lawyer James Stamphill (Christian Slater) takes his case and finds a history of cruelty and suffering. He uses the incident to expose how cruel Alcatraz is accusing the institution of turning Henri into a weapon by repeated mistreatment and brutality.
Super Reviewer
October 4, 2007
Murder in the First - One was condemned. The other was determined. Two men whose friendship gave them the will to take on the system.

Henri Young was convicted for stealing 5$ from post office and sent to Alcatraz, the most secured jail for the most dangerous criminals. After a futile escape mission he was sent to dungeon and got out as a murderer after thousand days, though maximum 19 days in dungeon is the official punishment was allowed. He became scared and confused savage and killed one of the prisoners. It was a sure to lose case and so James Stamphill , a fresh law graduate was appointed as his lawyer. But rest is history! Based on a true story, Murder in the first is a masterpiece by Marc Rocco shows how the dungeon of Alcatraz was shut down for ever.

Kevin Bacon was amazing as a tortured prisoner in Alcatraz. Christian Slater plays a youthful, inexperienced attorney to perfection and Gary oldman plays the part sadistically good.

This is a movie that will touch you emotionally, one of the best movies ever made. A classic. The way you feel you want to rescue Kevin, from the cruel and vile treatment he endures. The beauty of the movie is that it shows you the truth as to how harsh life was back in the 1930's and what people did to survive, if caught the punishment was very harsh.

Amazaing movie, it endeavour's to show strength and triumph.
Super Reviewer
½ August 6, 2008
A very intense courtroom / justice drama that is spearheaded by an awe-inspiring performance by Kevin Bacon who keeps cementing his position amongst my favourite and most underrated actors of all time. First of, while I do agree with the overall message of the movie and condemn the atrocious ongoings in institutions such as Alcatraz, the film is only very loosely based on the Henri Young case and I would have prepared for the filmmakers to come up with a fictional story to exemplify such ongoings instead of twisting the original case to make it more effective as a movie. I find that ultimately, such conduct underlines the good intentions of such a movie from the get-go. The movie's direction is very straightforward and despite being at least partially set in a prison and in the lower areas of Alcatraz (referred to as dungeons), the cinematography fails to conjure a more haunting and immersive experience based upon the prisoners' experiences, which is unfortunate but does not hurt the movie altogether, it is just a missed opportunity. As I said before, whenever Kevin Bacon is on screen, I held my breath for his performance was so amazing, I could hardly believe it. The movie would have gotten a straight 4 stars would it not have been for the crucially untalented and bland Christian Slater who completely ruins it. Instead of balancing out Bacon's complex character with an evenly matched trouble young lawyer (think Cruise in A Few Good Men), he delivers a bloodless and formulaic performance, which neatly and boringly walks amongst the lines of "Young American takes on the world", yawn ! The ending keeps you guessing and while there is no insane twist which turns everything on its head, the particular outcome remains a mystery to the end, which made the movie the more interesting giving Bacon's ability to make the audience care and interested in his character. The supporting cast is good, Gary Oldman makes for a great "bad guy", although his character is quiet one-dimensional and it would have been good for the character to be more explored more thoroughly. Although the movie points fingers at the American detention system, it does not steer clear of singling out Alcatraz and thus the overall message of the movie is weakened making it seem like an exceptional issue instead of a general question regarding human rights and imprisonment.

All in all, Kevin Bacon lets this one shine and it is worth your time for him alone, the direction and supp. cast is average (except for abysmal Slater) and does nothing to make it or break it.

Recommended. HX
Super Reviewer
September 16, 2009
Near the top in the list of most incompetently directed films I have ever seen. This movie could be used as a textbook illustrating how not to stage or frame a scene.
Super Reviewer
½ July 10, 2009
Excellent screenplay and storyline. Kevin Bacon shouldve been nominated for his role as a prisoner who is basically forgotten on death row. I still havent gotten out to see alcatraz but would love to plan a trip soon. So many stories lie within its walls. If you like movies about or revolving around this prison by all means rent my fave being Escape From Alcatraz with Clint Eastwood.
Super Reviewer
April 18, 2007
Kevin Bacon is pretty under rated in my opinion. . . See this one and judge for your self!
Super Reviewer
May 13, 2008
Awesome movie. First off, the story was just so great. Sometimes, I guess the old saying is true that life can be sometimes stranger than fiction. Yet even with such a memorable story, it was the superb performances and chemistry between Kevin Bacon and Christian slater that truly garnered this movie it's success.
Super Reviewer
½ August 25, 2007
Truely great film. If you havent see it you need to soon.
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