Five Movies Set on Alcatraz

Alcatraz Island and its notorious prison have remained ingrained in popular culture for decades, and Alcatraz movies have played a significant role in keeping this history alive. To get you excited about your visit to the island, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best Alcatraz movies out there, but it’s worth noting that if you’re after historical accuracy, a documentary might be more appropriate.

1. Point Blank

First up is “Point Blank,” the first film shot on the island after the prison closed. Although it wasn’t a commercial success when it was released in 1967, the film has since gained cult status among thriller enthusiasts due to its violent and mysterious plot.

2. The Rock

The Rock boasts an all-star cast, including Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage, and Ed Harris. The Rock is an explosive action-thriller with something for everyone – as long as you like films with hostage-taking, government corruption, and chemical weapons attacks. It’s complete fiction and much of it wasn’t even filmed on Alcatraz, but the island lent the movie both its name and its dark reputation. 

3. Murder in the First

With another star-studded cast, this time including Christian Slater, Kevin Bacon, and Gary Oldman, Murder in the First is (very) loosely based on a true story. When an Alcatraz prisoner is tried for murder, a lawyer attempts to put the prison itself on trial for the conditions he faced there – the argument goes that the prison itself is sending its prisoners insane. An interesting drama thriller with some great scenes. 

4. Birdman of Alcatraz

Any Alcatraz tour guide will be quick to tell you that prisoner Robert Stroud – the so-called ‘Birdman of Alcatraz’ – was never allowed to keep birds on the island. He gained the nickname from his time in a previous prison, where he kept canaries and became an expert on bird diseases. You can probably guess, then, that this 1962 Alcatraz film is a largely fictional account of Stroud’s life, but it has received positive reviews nonetheless. 

5. Escape from Alcatraz

Starring Clint Eastwood, this 1979 drama is one of the most famous Alcatraz films. It’s based on what was possibly the only successful escape from the island (nobody knows whether the escapees ever made it to shore) and is considered largely historically accurate. With great reviews and considerable box office success, this Alcatraz movie will leave you wanting to learn even more about the island’s dark history. 

Here at Gray Line San Francisco we offer many different trips to Alcatraz and we’d love to take you on one of our tours so you can truly make the most of this prison, steeped in history. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding trips and we will be eager to ensure all queries are answered fully!