Murder In The First (1995)
|Released:||Friday, January 20, 1995|
|Rating:||Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.|
A convict is on trial for murdering a fellow inmate and the young, inexperienced lawyer assigned to him bases his defense on the inhumane treatment at Alcatraz was responsible.
Murder In The First images are © Warner Bros.. All Rights Reserved.
Murder In The First Blu-ray Review
These incidents are all set forth in the film, vigorously directed by Marc Rocco. The tale is not sweetened in the telling — watching Henri writhe in agony in his cell is meant to make you squirm — but some of the facts are. Henri was defended by several lawyers. In the film there is only James Stamphill, an inexperienced public defender willing to take on the system. Christian Slater plays him with fierce intelligence. The trouble is, James doesn't exist. He's a composite character.
The composite character has a girlfriend, attorney Mary McClassin, who is played by Embeth Davidtz. Mary is not a composite character; she has been totally invented to goose up our rooting interest in young James. Then there is Warden Milton Glenn, a button-down sadist who cuddles his family at home and crushes inmates at work. Though Gary Oldman plays him with chilling subtlety, you have seen this monster — he's another composite character — in every prison picture since sound came in.
Should the filmmakers be nailed for going Hollywood? Yes and no. What studio is going to risk millions on a big, brown, dreary movie about a moldy case? Add romance and uplift and you get your movie made. Say this for Rocco: He exposes a real injustice. It is impossible to watch Murder in the First without being moved. Bacon dropped 25 pounds and wore disfiguring makeup to capture Henri's scarred look, but his achievement in the role comes in letting us see the emotional scars left by Henri's ordeal. For a movie like this, with such a compelling story at its core, you forgive the compromises — the story of Henri Young needed to be told.
The film looks very polished thanks to the wonder of Blu-ray. Unfortunately there are no bonus features to speak of, which is a shame because this film could certainly use them.
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