San Francisco has been an iconic location for great movies and TV shows. One of the most celebrated attractions that is featured is none other than Alcatraz Island.

Two of the most popular films are Escape from Alcatraz and The Rock.

Escape from Alcatraz

Released in 1979, this film features Frank Morris (played by Clint Eastwood). This hardened con had a history of prison breaks and was sent to serve the rest of his life sentence at Alcatraz — America’s most infamously brutal and inescapable, maximum security prison. Morris quickly realizes the prison’s dehumanizing effects and clashes with its cruel warden (played by Patrick McGoohan). Fed up with life at Alcatraz, Morris and two convict brothers (Fred Ward, and Jack Thibeau) meticulously plan the unthinkable: an escape from the Island. Take a look at the trailer.

The Rock

Stanley Goodspeed (played by Nicolas Cage) is an FBI chemical warfare expert who is sent on an urgent mission with a former British spy, John Patrick Mason (played by Sean Connery), to stop General Francis X. Hummel (played by Ed Harris) from launching chemical weapons on Alcatraz Island into San Francisco. General Hummel demanded $100 million in war reparations to be paid to the families of slain servicemen who died on covert operations. After their SEAL team is wiped out, Stanley and John deal with the soldiers on their own. Check out the trailer.

What are some of the other films and TV shows that popularize this infamous Island? To save you time, we’ve compiled a quick list of the films or TV shows we know of that were shot with Alcatraz making an appearance somewhere in the film’s scenes.

  • Bullit.  Steve McQueen is filmed in a famous car chase scene when Alcatraz pops up in the background.
  • The Last Gangster.  The Edward G. Robinson character, Joe Krozak, ends up doing time on Alcatraz for tax evasion.
  • Streets of San Francisco.  The classic TV series featured many climactic street scenes in every episode as well as shots of Alcatraz in the background.
  • Birdman of Alcatraz.  The Burt Lancaster film was based on the life of Robert Franklin Stroud who was incarcerated at Alcatraz.
  • Six Against the Rock.  How about the film Six Against the Rock, which features the aborted 1946 escape attempt.
  • Point Blank.  The 1967 American neo-noir movie about Alcatraz, has become a cult classic.
  • Murder in the First.  This 1995 film is based on the true story of Henri Young, an inmate at Alcatraz who was subjected to severe punishment and later put on trial for murder.

How many of these have you seen? Feel like you can add to our list? Visit our Facebook page to add your two cents.

Of course, there’s no better way to see Alcatraz than up close and personal. An Alcatraz Day Tour provides a round-trip ferry service to the island and admission to the cellhouse. You’ll explore the steep history through exhibits, signs, and an award-winning cellhouse audio tour, Doing Time: The Alcatraz Cellhouse Tour.” Enjoy scenic vistas and iconic, close-up views of the Cellhouse, Building 64, Warden’s House, Water Tower, Officer’s Club, Model Industries Building, and admission to the permanent exhibit,  “The Big Lockup: Mass Incarceration in the United States.”

Prefer a night tour? Alcatraz Behind the Scenes Tour offers a 4-5 hour night tour with a round-trip ferry to Alcatraz Island and a small group guided “behind the scenes” tour with a National Park Service Ranger or expert educator. You’ll explore many areas that are off-limits to the general public and hear fascinating stories about the island’s history and its relevance today. 


Whether it’s up close and in person, or on the big screen, Alcatraz remains a source of mystique and intrigue. The island was also home to those who worked there and their families. For a deeper look a what it was like, listen to tales from Growing Up on Alcatraz.

Original Post Date: August 21, 2022