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Birdman of Alcatraz (1962)

 -  Biography | Drama  -  3 July 1962 (USA)
7.8
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 10,737 users  
Reviews: 70 user | 35 critic

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

Directors:

, (uncredited)

Writers:

(screenplay), (book)
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Title: Birdman of Alcatraz (1962)

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Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
...
Bull Ransom
Betty Field ...
Stella Johnson
...
...
Tom Gaddis
...
Albert Comstock
...
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 | Drama

Certificate:

See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

3 July 1962 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Gefangene von Alcatraz  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Burt Lancaster actually met Robert Stroud in February, 1963. Lancaster claimed that Stroud told him that one of the reasons he had been denied parole was that he was an "admitted homosexual." Stroud was watched closely by prison guards at Alcatraz due to his overt and predatory homosexual tendencies. Lancaster quoted Stroud as saying "Let's face it. I am 73-years old. Does that answer your question about whether I would be a dangerous homosexual?" See more »

Goofs

When Stroud is scheduled to be executed on 8 November 1918, his mother is granted an audience with Mrs. Wilson in lieu of the President, who, as Gaddis' narration states, was suffering from a grave illness. During the audience Mrs. Stroud says, "They've turned on your husband in his fight for peace." The references are to Woodrow Wilson's massive stroke and resultant infirmity, and his fight with the Senate to ratify the Treaty of Versailles, none of which happened prior to September 1919. 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 ...
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Connections

Referenced in Reel Radicals: The Sixties Revolution in Film (2002) See more »

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User Reviews

A fine film from a true star.
27 May 2003 | by (Xanadu) – See all my reviews

There are many combinations in Hollywood that produce fine work; and, then, there are those that produce tremendous work. Directors and actors can often be at odds, but when they are in sync, something wonderful can come of it. Hitchcock made classics with Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant; Scorcese and Deniro transcend their contemporaries; and Burt Lancaster and John Frankenheimer made great movies together.

I've always liked Burt Lancaster. At first, I had only seen his swashbucklers and his westerns. But, as I discovered his dramas, my respect grew. Lancaster was the perfect leading man. He was tall, good looking, charming, and loaded with charisma. What's more, he had talent. He could turn out a pirate yarn or play a con artist who finds love; a marshall in the most famous gunfight, or a general who abandons his oath; a ghost of a doctor who gets that one at-bat, or a prisoner who becomes an expert on birds. Lancaster is brilliant in this film.

Lancaster was more than a movie star; he was an actor. He never sought the easy route, his life had never been easy. Maybe that's why his movies stand out. Nothing good ever comes easy.

Lancaster presents a brilliant portrayal of Robert Stroud. Whether it is historically accurate or not is beside the point. Lancaster represents the indomitable human spirit; no matter what challenge life throws at him, he rises above. Lancaster is understated in this role, but so powerful. He doesn't need method or make up or any tricks; just his humanity.

So many movies shine due to the presence of Lancaster; but his collaborations with Frankenheimer shine brightest. Frankenheimer is highly underrated, due to his later work; but, there was a period when he was one of the best. The Manchurian Candidate, Seven Days in May, The Train, and Birdman of Alcatraz are clear examples of his talent. Do yourself a favor, when you see a movie in the video store, or on tv, look for the names Frankenheimer and Lancaster. If you find them, watch the movie. You'll be glad you did.


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