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 »
Ralph and Annabell Willart are a feuding couple who are constantly bickering over their worthless, good-for nothing son Berry-Berry. When Berry-Berry begins yet another meaningless love ... See full summary »
Eva Marie Saint,
Henry Tawes is the sheriff in a small town in Tennessee. A man of strong moral fibre he is always quick to judge others and follows the law zealously. Then he meets Alma, a young beautiful ... See full summary »
Lt. Commander Finchhaven, a ghostly relic from the First World War, he had fallen down dead drunk on his first assignment and been consigned from the great beyond to sail the seas until a ... See full summary »
Lou is a small time gangster, who thinks he used to be something big. He meets up with a younger girl, Sally, who is learning to be a croupier. Her husband turns up with drugs he has stolen... See full summary »
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 that commutes his sentence to life imprisonment. However, the warden Harvey Shoemaker decides to keep Stroud in the solitary for the rest of his life. One day, Stroud finds a sparrow that has fallen from the nest on the yard and he raises the bird until it is strong enough to fly. Stroud finds a motivation for his life raising and caring 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
The film presents Robert Stroud involved in a lifetime war of nerves with Warden Harvey Shoemaker. Shoemaker is in fact a combination of two separate men: T.W. Morgan was warden of Leavenworth at the time that Stroud's death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 1920; and James A. Johnston was warden of Alcatraz during the attempted escape of 1946. See more »
Stroud is sentenced by the judge to be hanged on "the eighth day of November, 1918". Later, his mother is granted an audience with Mrs. Woodrow Wilson in lieu of the President - who, as Gaddis's narration states, was suffering from a grave illness - and during the audience Mrs. Stroud refers to how "they've turned on your husband [Wilson] in his fight for peace". The references are to Wilson's massive stroke and resultant infirmity, and his fight to have the Senate ratify the Treaty of Versailles. But Wilson's stroke occurred in September 1919, and his consequent ill health, as well as his Senate fight, were subsequent to that event, in 1919-1920. Since her son's hanging was scheduled to take place almost a year before Wilson even suffered his stroke, the events portrayed could not possibly have happened. See more »
...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 »
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.
48 of 53 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?