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
Robert Stroud's wife and business partner, whom he married while in jail, was actually called Della Mae Jones. See more »
Early in the film, in an exterior shot when Elizabeth Stroud is in Washington DC to campaign for her son's death sentence to be commuted, California's mountains can be seen in the background. 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 ...
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John Frankenheimers 1962 film about a convicted double murderer who turns his half-life into something meaningful by becoming an expert on the diseases of birds. Although this is not a completely accurate tale of Robert Stroud who became known as The Birdman of Alcatraz the performance of Burt Lancaster makes it a classic film of the human-interest story genre. Genuine WWII hero turned actor Neville Brand likewise turns in a strong performance as a stern yet sympathetic guard at the Leavenworth Penitentiary. Karl Malden is cast as the by the book bureaucratic prison official who's life continues to cross paths with the incarcerated Stroud. Veteran character actress Thelma Ritter is Strouds over protective mother who will do anything for her loving son realizing that where he is is probably the best place for him.
The film strangely shows the mental capabilities of a person and how much someone can achieve when one wishes to. The Stroud character has only an elementary school education at the films beginning yet applies himself to obtain knowledge equal to that of a college educated individual.
Although the story takes place in a prison this is not just a prison picture but more of a story of one man conquering his own ignorance by reaching into himself and casting out the demons that put him in the situation that he must live with. There are perhaps many such people in this countries prisons who have done similar as the main character in this movie.
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