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Birdman of Alcatraz (1962)

 |  Biography, Drama  |  3 July 1962 (USA)
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A surly convicted murderer held in permanent isolation redeems himself when he becomes a renowned bird expert.


, (uncredited)


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


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


Inside the rock called Alcatraz they tried to chain a volcano they called "The Bird Man"! See more »


Biography | Drama


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Parents Guide:





Release Date:

3 July 1962 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Gefangene von Alcatraz  »

Box Office


$2,650,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Burt Lancaster was forced by United Artists to make four films for $150,000 a picture in the 1960s: The Young Savages (1961), Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), The Train (1964) and The Hallelujah Trail (1965) rather than his normal fee of $750,000, because of cost overruns at his production company, Hecht-Hill-Lancaster, for which he was personally responsible. See more »


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 »


[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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Referenced in The Graveyard (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

9 out of 10
26 June 2000 | by (Cologne, Germany) – See all my reviews

Fatally underrated, brilliantly acted, strikingly photographed and excellently directed prison drama about con Burt Lancaster and his passion for birds and his mother Thelma Ritter. Flawless performances and a moving script make this a classic and one of Lancaster greatest on-screen appearances. To be rediscovered.

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