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Murder in the First [Blu-ray]

4.6 out of 5 stars 174 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Murder in the First (BD)

The story of the trial that shut down the dungeons of Alcatraz. Based on a true story that occured in the 1930s. A young, inexperienced public defender is assigned to defend an inmate accused of committing murder while behind bars.

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Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Stephen Tobolowsky, Kevin Bacon, Bill Macy, Gary Oldman, Brad Dourif
  • Directors: Marc Rocco
  • Writers: Dan Gordon
  • Producers: Marc Rocco, Marc Frydman, Mark M Wolper, David L. Wolper, Philip McKeon
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: July 17, 2012
  • Run Time: 122 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (174 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B007NQZRBQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,746 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Murder in the First [Blu-ray]" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
This is a remarkable piece of Hollywood filmmaking, one of the best big studio efforts of the 90's and it was so poorly marketed that few have seen - or heard of - this picture.

The too often (and sometimes easily) dismissed Kevin Bacon is here Henri Young, a role as powerfully haunting as any actor could dream of. With an uncannily natural affinity for Henri, Bacon finds his way into the marrow of this tortured, downtrodden prisoner. In what could have too easily turned into a over-the-top "Look, Ma, I'm acting!" role, Bacon strikes a balance that is unique and rare. Unafraid of any aspect of Henri it becomes a performance nothing less than astonishing in its honesty.

The first 20 minutes presents us with the naked, filthy animal the system wishes to portray him as Henri. Yet, even here, with little more than a mad scene comprised of grunts, screams and incoherent mumblings about baseball, multiplication tables and The Lord's Prayer, Bacon makes Henri shine beneath the hair and grime introducing us to a pitiable sorrowful man not only wronged by the system, but utterly destroyed then forgotten by it. This is one of those rare performances where the work outshines the actor - I'd forgotten entirely I was even watching an actor.

It's a hard heart that will not be moved by Henri and Bacon should look back at this performance with nothing but pride. (The fact he was not nominated for an Oscar is astonishing as his performance.)

Christian Slater gives one of his best performances as well and Gary Oldman is, (predictably) wonderfully evil as is William H. Macy. The court room scenes fairly crackle, but ultimately the heart and soul of this movie is found in Kevin Bacon's Henri.
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Format: DVD
Based on true-life events, "Murder In The First" premiered in U.S. movie theaters in January 1995 and stars Kevin Bacon as Henri Young, a 28-year-old man who (as depicted in the film) stole five dollars and ended up doing 3-plus years in the solitary "dungeons" of Alcatraz prison in San Francisco in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

Upon looking up some information on the Internet regarding the "real" Henri Young, it seems that the filmmakers of this finely-crafted and well-shot Warner Brothers' drama did, indeed, dish up a liberal dose of "dramatic license" regarding the true events in Mr. Young's life. But, I suppose, this is to be expected from a Hollywood story depicting real-life people and events.

One thing that's been fictionalized for the movie is the brief scene when we find out that Young died while still behind Alcatraz bars. It's never fully explained in the film just exactly HOW Young died while still in prison. I think this should have been more thoroughly spelled out in the movie (even from a "fictionalized" point-of-view).

Evidently, according to info I can gather, Young did NOT die while in prison, and, in fact, might still be alive to this day. Young disappeared after being paroled from a Washington State prison in 1972, after serving additional prison time for another murder. (Sounds like another "D.B. Cooper" type of saga.)

"Artistic filmmaking license" notwithstanding, "Murder In The First" is an excellent piece of motion-picture entertainment, IMO.
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Format: DVD
Having just come off this year's Oscars, one need look no further than MURDER IN THE FIRST to see how the awards are merely an extravagant popularity contest that more often than not misses truly outstanding performances. Kevin Bacon's performance in this powerful film is tremendous and more than worthy of just a nomination, but a winner. Kevin brilliantly captures the person who is Henri Young. Physically, emotionally, Bacon brings a rare depth to a complex and wrongly treated person. Christian Slater, who I have long considered an average performer, also shines in this role as David, the public defender who fights to show the real villain - Alcatraz itself. Gary Oldman is superb as the assistant warden to whom cruelty and inhumanity is as natural as drinking water. Embeth Davidtz, William H. Macy, Kyra Sedgwick (as a hooker who tries to "service" Henri) and even the hammy F. Lee Ermey provide excellent support. To those reviewers who claimed the movie was phoney, poo poo on you. I found myself riveted to the screen and Bacon's performance alone should earn the movie five stars!
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Format: DVD
In what is possibly Kevin Bacon's best performance in a long and varied career, he turns in a remarkable performance as a petty criminal now on trial for murder. Fellow actors Gary Oldman, William H. Macy, and especially Christian Slater, also turn in fine performances.

As a courtroom drama, there are few movies that can compete with this one. Slater, as Bacon's defense attorney, must triumph over what seem like insurmountable odds: everything from his own boss, colleagues, the prison system, the government, and even his own older brother (played by talented actor Brad Douriff), is against him. But in the end he wins the case despite the formidable forces arrayed against him.

You should be aware that the movie takes considerable license with the facts, however. In the movie, Bacon's character is said to be just a petty criminal whose punishment far exceeded his crime by having to spend 1000 days in solitary, and that it was the brutal conditions in Alcatraz that caused him to commit the subsequent murder. In fact. Henry Young (the criminal), was a career criminal and sociopath who had a long history of crime, had already murdered one person, and brutalized another hostage after a bank robbery. He later committed another murder while in prison. So he was not a sympathetic person at all in real life.

Also in the movie, the warden is said to be warden over three prisons, only visiting The Rock 24 times in three years, and so couldn't know what the conditions were like. In fact, there has never been a warden who ran more than one prison. And the warden at Alcatraz lived in a small house only a few feet from the front gate of the prison.

With those facts in mind, though, it's an outstanding movie and one that stands out from the rest of the crowd in the genre of courtroom dramas.
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