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 really should be known as the "Birdman of Leavenworth," since it was there that he kept his birds and did his research. He was not actually allowed any birds during his time at Alcatraz. 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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GOOD NEWS: This is a riveting film start-to-finish, which is hard to do considering it runs over two hours. Burt Lancaster, one of the better actors, perhaps, of all time, gives a tremendous and very memorable performance. It's a cliché but this IS one story you will not forget!
Director John Frrankenheimer also is one of the best ever. Check out his resume, if you question that last statement. He has some masterful camera shots in here. In addition to the talents of the director and main actor, you have Karl Malden,Thelma Ritter, Telly Savalas and Edmond O'Brien - no slouches they - in solid supporting roles. The DVD also helps highlight the wonderful black-and-white photography.
Most prison stories are bleak and depressing. This one is not. Oh, it has some melodrama and a few tough scenes which include prison violence, but generally it is a fascinating character study....and, even for those of you who are not bird lovers, full of interesting information about our feathered friends. How they trained the birds to do some things in here also is amazing.
BAD NEWS: What a disappointment to do some research about the real "birdman," Robert Stroud. It turns out, as other reviewers have noted, the man was a sleaze-bag. No sense going into details since some of them are simply revolting. For those who simply want to remember this as a great movie and a great performance by Lancaster, do yourself a favor and leave it at that. In this case, ignorance IS bliss!
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