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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 10,554 users  
Reviews: 69 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 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

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

Robert Stroud was actually imprisoned in cell #42 located in the D Block. According to Frank Heaney, a former prison guard (1948-51), Stroud was anything but the sympathetic character as portrayed by Burt Lancaster. He was an extremely difficult and demented inmate who, though highly intelligent, was a vicious killer and a psychopath. See more »

Goofs

In the opening line, a tour guide tells the people on the tour boat that Alcatraz's inmates have included "Al Capone, Baby Face Nelson, and Machine Gun Kelly." In fact, Baby Face Nelson (aka Lester Gillis) was never incarcerated at Alcatraz. He was killed in a gunfight with FBI agents in 1934, the same year Alcatraz opened as a prison. 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 Mister Ed: Wilbur Post, Honorary Horse (1963) See more »

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User Reviews

Lancaster's Fine Performance Makes Up For The Weaknesses
16 December 2004 | by (Ohio) – See all my reviews

Burt Lancaster's fine performance as "Birdman" Robert Stroud makes up for the movie's weaknesses elsewhere. Thanks to Lancaster, it is an interesting and at times very human story, with a number of memorable scenes. The story itself does has some slow spots, and it probably goes on a bit too long. More than that, while it takes some of its basic facts from reality, its portrayal of the lead character is idealized at best, and is probably quite distorted in his favor.

None of the flaws can be blamed on Lancaster, who successfully portrays all sides of his character. Sometimes brutal, sometimes sensitive; sometimes brilliant, sometimes foolish; he makes Stroud a three-dimensional and memorable character. Few of the other characters have much depth, but most of them are played well by the supporting cast.

For all that Lancaster's portrayal of Stroud is so believable in itself, the movie's depiction of the "Birdman" seems to be very much at odds with his real character. It's too bad that Hollywood film-makers are rarely satisfied to portray a complex historical character as he or she really was, without idealizing or demonizing someone to force a story into a simple mold. It's even more of a problem now than it was in the 1960s. If the actual facts don't make for a good movie, you can always use the basic idea to write a completely fictional story that is not passed off as factual.

Yet as a movie, this is still well worth seeing. If taken just as a story, it makes for interesting viewing, and it contains some worthwhile ideas. Some of the later scenes seem a bit anti-climactic, yet they do round out the story, and they also allow Lancaster the opportunity to develop his character even further.


18 of 22 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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