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Birdman of Alcatraz (1962)

Not Rated | | Biography, Crime, Drama | 4 July 1962 (USA)
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A surly convicted murderer held in permanent isolation redeems himself when he becomes a renowned bird expert.

Directors:

John Frankenheimer, Charles Crichton (uncredited)

Writers:

Guy Trosper (screenplay), Thomas E. Gaddis (book)
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Burt Lancaster ... Robert Franklin Stroud
Karl Malden ... Harvey Shoemaker
Thelma Ritter ... Elizabeth Stroud
Neville Brand ... Bull Ransom
Betty Field ... Stella Johnson
Telly Savalas ... Feto Gomez
Edmond O'Brien ... Tom Gaddis
Hugh Marlowe ... Albert Comstock
Whit Bissell ... Dr. Ellis
Crahan Denton ... Kramer
James Westerfield ... Jess Younger
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Storyline

In 1912, the notorious and violent prisoner Robert Franklin Stroud is transferred to the Leavenworth Prison convicted for murdering a man. When a guard cancels the visit of his mother, Elizabeth Stroud, due to a violation of the internal rules, he stabs and kills the guard and goes to trial three times. He is sentenced to be executed by the gallows, but his mother appeals to President Woodrow Wilson who commutes his sentence to life imprisonment. However, the warden, Harvey Shoemaker, decides to keep Stroud in solitary for the rest of his life. One day, Stroud finds a sparrow that has fallen from the nest in the yard and he raises the bird until it is strong enough to fly. Stroud finds a motivation for his life raising and caring for birds and becomes an expert in birds. He marries Stella Johnson and together they run a business, providing medicine developed by Stroud. But a few years after, Stroud is transferred to Alcatraz and has to leave his birds behind. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Inside the rock called Alcatraz they tried to chain a volcano they called "The Bird Man"! See more »

Genres:

Biography | Crime | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

4 July 1962 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Gefangene von Alcatraz See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,650,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Norma Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Burt Lancaster was so immersed in his role that he wept on some moments, but he asked director John Frankenheimer not to show him cry to the audience. See more »

Goofs

In several cell scenes the sparrow shown on the window sill has almost no tail feathers, but an instant later the sparrow in Stroud's hand has long tail feathers. Also, the "sparrow" has a beak and shape more like a finch than sparrow. Pointed out by a retired National Park Service naturalist. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Tour guide: ...during which you will see all of the man-made and natural beauties, the most spectacular bay in the world. You'll pass beneath the famous Golden Gate Bridge, considered by most authorities to be one of the most striking structures ever erected by man. From the bay, you will thrill to the magnificent San Francisco skyline. Your cruise ship, the Harbor King, will circle Alcatraz, a maximum security prison containing the most dangerous criminals in America. It has been the home of ...
See more »

Alternate Versions

European release is five minutes longer than original US theatrical version. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Futurama: The Birdbot of Ice-Catraz (2001) See more »

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User Reviews

 
One of Lancaster's finest parts
12 July 2008 | by g-hbeSee all my reviews

I've just seen this film on TV, it being several years since I saw it last. What a fine job Burt Lancaster makes of portraying Robert Stroud, a two-times murderer who finds inner peace when he nurses a young sparrow back to health in his prison cell. More birds follow, and in time he becomes an authority on bird pathology and develops several cures for diseases which were thought untreatable.

The quiet dignity that Lancaster gives to the part may or may not have been a genuine part of the real Robert Stroud but it is deeply moving, and the Director's careful treatment of the relationship he has with his long-term warder who grows old alongside him is one part of the film which can bring a lump to the throat.

Of course the film carries the message that not all prisoners should be treated with brutal disdain and could be seen as just another left-wing handwringer from a period when this kind of thing was popular among movie-makers, but it is certainly a top-notch example.


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