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Birdman of Alcatraz (1962)

Not Rated | | Biography, Crime, Drama | August 1962 (UK)
2:53 | Trailer

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A surly convicted murderer held in permanent isolation redeems himself when he becomes a renowned bird expert.


, (uncredited)


(screenplay), (book)
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:


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


now the world will know the story of the most defiant man alive! See more »


Biography | Crime | Drama


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

August 1962 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Der Gefangene von Alcatraz  »


Box Office


$2,650,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The film's release prompted an outpouring of letters demanding Robert Stroud's release. The fact that the real Stroud was nothing like he was portrayed in the film--he was actually a vicious psychopath who murdered several people before he went to prison and also while he was in prison--ensured that this never happened. See more »


While Stroud is at Alcatraz, his cell is depicted with a window. All the cells at Alcatraz were located on inside walls with no openings to the outside. 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 Tough Guys (1986) See more »

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User Reviews

Story of one man who has many others like him.
8 October 1999 | by See all my reviews

John Frankenheimers 1962 film about a convicted double murderer who turns his half-life into something meaningful by becoming an expert on the diseases of birds. Although this is not a completely accurate tale of Robert Stroud who became known as The Birdman of Alcatraz the performance of Burt Lancaster makes it a classic film of the human-interest story genre. Genuine WWII hero turned actor Neville Brand likewise turns in a strong performance as a stern yet sympathetic guard at the Leavenworth Penitentiary. Karl Malden is cast as the by the book bureaucratic prison official who's life continues to cross paths with the incarcerated Stroud. Veteran character actress Thelma Ritter is Strouds over protective mother who will do anything for her loving son realizing that where he is is probably the best place for him.

The film strangely shows the mental capabilities of a person and how much someone can achieve when one wishes to. The Stroud character has only an elementary school education at the films beginning yet applies himself to obtain knowledge equal to that of a college educated individual.

Although the story takes place in a prison this is not just a prison picture but more of a story of one man conquering his own ignorance by reaching into himself and casting out the demons that put him in the situation that he must live with. There are perhaps many such people in this countries prisons who have done similar as the main character in this movie.

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