WAYS TO
WATCH:

See all
A surly convicted murderer held in permanent isolation redeems himself when he becomes a renowned bird expert.

Directors:

, (uncredited)

Writers:

(screenplay), (book)
Reviews
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Elmer Gantry (1960)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A fast-talking traveling salesman with a charming, loquacious manner convinces a sincere evangelist that he can be an effective preacher for her cause.

Director: Richard Brooks
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Jean Simmons, Arthur Kennedy
Drama | Romance | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

United States military leaders plot to overthrow the President because he supports a nuclear disarmament treaty and they fear a Soviet sneak attack.

Director: John Frankenheimer
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Fredric March
The Train (1964)
Thriller | War | Action
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

In 1944, a German colonel loads a train with French art treasures to send to Germany. The Resistance must stop it without damaging the cargo.

Directors: John Frankenheimer, Arthur Penn
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Paul Scofield, Jeanne Moreau
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A district attorney investigates the racially charged case of three teenagers accused of the murder of a blind Puerto Rican boy. He begins to discover that the facts in the case aren't ... See full summary »

Director: John Frankenheimer
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Dina Merrill, Edward Andrews
Trapeze (1956)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A crippled circus acrobat is torn emotionally between two ambitious young trapeze artists, one a talented young American and a less-gifted but beautiful Italian.

Director: Carol Reed
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis, Gina Lollobrigida
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A former Korean War POW is brainwashed by Communists into becoming a political assassin. But another former prisoner may know how to save him.

Director: John Frankenheimer
Stars: Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh
Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Lawman Wyatt Earp and outlaw Doc Holliday form an unlikely alliance which culminates in their participation in the legendary Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

Director: John Sturges
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Rhonda Fleming
Drama | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

In 1941 Hawaii, a private is cruelly punished for not boxing on his unit's team, while his captain's wife and second in command are falling in love.

Director: Fred Zinnemann
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr
Brute Force (1947)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

At a tough penitentiary, prisoner Joe Collins plans to rebel against Captain Munsey, the power-mad chief guard.

Director: Jules Dassin
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Hume Cronyn, Charles Bickford
Atlantic City (1980)
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

In a corrupt city, a small-time gangster and the estranged wife of a pot dealer finds themselves thrown together in an escapade of love, money, drugs, and danger.

Director: Louis Malle
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Susan Sarandon, Kate Reid
Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

Powerful but unethical Broadway columnist J.J. Hunsecker coerces unscrupulous press agent Sidney Falco into breaking up his sister's romance with a jazz musician.

Director: Alexander Mackendrick
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis, Susan Harrison
The Killers (1946)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Hit men kill an unresisting victim, and investigator Reardon uncovers his past involvement with beautiful, deadly Kitty Collins.

Director: Robert Siodmak
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner, Edmond O'Brien
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
...
Bull Ransom
Betty Field ...
Stella Johnson
...
...
Tom Gaddis
...
Albert Comstock
...
Dr. Ellis
Crahan Denton ...
Kramer
James Westerfield ...
Jess Younger
Edit

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 | Drama

Certificate:

See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

3 July 1962 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Gefangene von Alcatraz  »

Box Office

Budget:

$2,650,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Burt Lancaster later claimed that Robert Stroud could not be released from prison because the authorities were concerned that he might sexually abuse children. See more »

Goofs

At the start of the film, Gaddis states that Robert Stroud was put in solitary confinement in 1916, the year Kaiser Wilhelm II ordered the sinking of the Lusitania. This is incorrect on two counts. First, the sinking was in 1915, not 1916. Second, while Germany was then waging unrestricted submarine warfare and gave its captains carte blanche to regard any ships traveling to or from the British Isles as fair targets, neither the Kaiser nor the German government gave any specific order to target the Lusitania. 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 »

Connections

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

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Excellent Example of a Sadly Lost Film-making Style

"Birdman of Alcatraz" depicts a fictionalized version of the life of Robert Stroud, a real prisoner who served a life sentence in various American prisons, including Alcatraz.

As other viewers have commented, the film fictionalizes the life of the real Robert Stroud, who was a murderer and who has been accused of being a pedophile, as well.

This fictionalization should not interfere with an intelligent viewer's enjoyment of a fine film.

Too, this fictionalization doesn't change the key features of Stroud's case -- a bad man, a man who is shown on screen to be a real murderer, was condemned to death by the state. That much is true from Stroud's real life story, and that much is shown in the film.

Stroud was a difficult person who did not treat other people decently. That much was true of the real Stroud and that is shown in the film.

Stroud's mother pled for his life and President Woodrow Wilson commuted his sentence to life. A warden, aware of how difficult Stroud was to control, declared that Stroud be kept in segregation. That much is true in Stroud's real life story, and that is depicted in the film.

Finally, Stroud became noteworthy for his research and writing on canaries, after he found an injured bird in the recreation yard. That much was true in Stroud's life, and that is shown in the film.

Those who argue that the film is not as accurate as it could be have a point, but the film does follow the facts outlined above.

The film is quiet, and black and white, and yet riveting.

It is an example of a kind of film-making that is sadly lost today. The film attempts a serious discussion of serious issues: the value of a man, the death penalty, the role of prisons, their wardens and guards, the possibility of human connection, even under conditions of relative isolation. Stroud makes some human contact with his guard, and with a fellow inmate he communicates with via tapping.

The film is riveting because its entire cast has a kind of star power that is hard to find today. Even given his quiet, surly performance in this black and white film, you can't take your eyes off of Burt Lancaster. The supporting cast is equally excellent.

This film is a must for anyone interested in cinematic treatments of prisons, of the death penalty, of questions of human worth, even the worth of persons who display their lack of worth in, almost, their every act, and, the kind of films of the late fifties and early sixties that provided intelligent discussions of social issues.

It's also a great movie if you just want to be entertained.


53 of 59 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Remake 'The Birdman' urbisoler-1
"Murderous homosexual"? Lupercali
the ending -- help! biskinikill
What happened to the birds? Pamactress
great film carlin4737
His Other Book instantvintage-1
Discuss Birdman of Alcatraz (1962) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?