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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Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 8 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?


The masterminds of the Battle of Alcatraz are named Logue and Burns in the film. In real life their names were Marvin Hubbard and Bernard Paul Coy. See more »


In the last scene at the dock in 1959, while Stroud is talking to the reporters, the Alcatraz launch is seen leaving the dock and heading back toward the island. When Stroud then talks with Tom Gaddis, the launch can be seen over Stroud's shoulder, back at the dock again, and is again in the process of casting off. 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 South Park: Cat Orgy (1999) See more »

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User Reviews

Who cares about truth! Birdman Of Alcatraz 1962 is fabulous.
4 March 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This is a loose telling story of Robert Franklin Stroud (Burt Lancaster) who became known as The Birdman Of Alcatraz.

Have to say I have avoided this film for years purely because of its leading man, but before you Burt Lancaster fans jump on me let me say here and now that I'm now very much a convert these days. A dear on line friend of mine convinced me to check out some of his work last year after they found out I wasn't all that impressed with him, so after watching Atlantic City and his supreme film noirs, I was quickly back in line. This one landed from the rental folk strangely after me enjoying Lancaster in The Unforgiven only last week.

A strange thing with prison films is that few of them actually capture the oppressive feel of incarceration, so when I see one that does, then I'm very over the moon. Director John Frankenheimer manages to put the viewer in with Stroud because the pace is perfect, it's meant to be slow, prison time is slow time, the film is always close and intimate to give you the feel of being there. This film, much like two other greats from the genre in Papillon & Escape From Alcatraz, needs its lead actor to be restrained yet brood with menace, and Lancaster delivers from the top draw here. How unfortunate for him that he should turn in a fantastic turn in the same year that Atticus & Lawrence were dazzling cinema goers. The film never veers into over sentimental slumber because there is much more going on with Stroud, be it his Mother, business acumen, or the political fall out of this murderous man's time in prison.

Watching such macho men like Lancaster & Savalas grow fond of our feathered friends is priceless and brings about scenes that are both touching and poignant at the same time. Whatever the distortion of the facts as regards Robert Stroud's penal life, one thing we do know is that he made an official impact and it makes for one hell of a story. Added bonus here is that you've got Frankenheimer directing deftly in his black & white style, aided considerably by the smart cinematography from Burnett Guffey. And of course from a memorable performance from Big Bad Burt.

I was so impressed I ordered it for my own collection. 9/10

26 of 28 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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