Murder in the First (1995) Review

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James Stamphill a young attorney is given a very difficult case when he must defend an Alcatraz prisoner who murdered a fellow inmate with many witness to the crime. But as he goes deep into Henri Young’s time in the prison he finds out he had just spent over three years in solitary confinement.

After meeting Christian Slater a few days ago now this review is going to be part of Christian Slater season on Let’s Go To The Movies as I try and catch up with as many of his films as possible. This one is on Amazon Video included with Prime and has some fantastic performances. I do love a good court room drama and this has some very good court room scenes.

At times it is very difficult to watch due to the subject matter of Henri Young’s treatment in that truly awful prison. He was a criminal that did a petty crime but was placed in the worst prison in America with the worst criminals out there, he had tried to escape and the treatment he then received was a disgrace. He was beaten and placed in solitary confinement not allowed out for two years and physically and mentally that his destroyed him.

James Stamphill very eager for his first case is then screwed over by his law firm when given this one, but his determination to help Henri after just one meeting comes through. He wants to find out what actually happened to his client as he struggles to get him to speak. But that would be because he hasn’t actually spoken to anyone for a very long time. He then manages to turn the case slightly and put Alcatraz on trial for mistreatment of Young which creates a lot of media attention around it all. Whilst also feeling like he is competing with his brother who is also a lawyer.

Kevin Bacon’s performance was outstanding from start to finish I was very impressed with how he took on a difficult role the way he had to move around and the way he had to speak. So much so that I am actually surprised that I hadn’t actually heard of this film before. As Christian Slater put in a very good performance as the lawyer and got some very good scenes in the court. Gary Oldman with a smaller role as the assistant warden who was responsible for the treatment had a couple of good scenes as well.

A tough to watch film that shows what was happening in prisons in a very different time especially around Alcatraz which is still well known to this day even though it was actually closed down in 1963. With many bad stories surrounding it and now just a museum where people can go and visit. I guess it shows how times have changed? But on the whole some fantastic performances in this film from start to finish which was very good to watch, haunted by Kevin Bacon’s appearance as Henri Young.

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