7.8/10
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75 user 44 critic

Birdman of Alcatraz (1962)

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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Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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...
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Bull Ransom
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Stella Johnson
...
...
Tom Gaddis
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Albert Comstock
...
Dr. Ellis
...
Kramer
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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:

15 September 1962 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Der Gefangene von Alcatraz  »

Box Office

Budget:

$2,650,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Alcatraz facility was a prison for just under 29 years, starting 11 August 1934 and ending 21 March 1963, the year after the film was released. Coincidentally, that was exactly 8 months before the death of Robert Stroud in Springfield, Missouri, where he had been held since 1959. See more »

Goofs

During the 1946 escape attempt from Alcatraz, inmates are shown obtaining a revolver and a lever-action rifle from a gun gallery. The firearms kept (and subsequently stolen from the gallery) were a Colt .45 automatic pistol and a 30.06 Springfield Bolt-Action Rifle. 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 A Decade Under the Influence (2003) 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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