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Birdman of Alcatraz (1962)

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

Directors:

John Frankenheimer, Charles Crichton (uncredited)

Writers:

Guy Trosper (screenplay), Thomas E. Gaddis (book)
Reviews
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Burt Lancaster ... Robert Franklin Stroud
Karl Malden ... Harvey Shoemaker
Thelma Ritter ... Elizabeth Stroud
Neville Brand ... Bull Ransom
Betty Field ... Stella Johnson
Telly Savalas ... Feto Gomez
Edmond O'Brien ... Tom Gaddis
Hugh Marlowe ... Albert Comstock
Whit Bissell ... 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 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 | Crime | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

15 September 1962 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Gefangene von Alcatraz See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

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

Company Credits

Production Co:

Norma Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

At one point, the real Robert Stroud had over 400 birds in his cell. See more »

Goofs

In the opening scene, a tour guide tells visitors that Alcatraz inmates have included Al Capone, Baby Face Nelson, and "Machine Gun" George Kelly. In fact, Baby Face Nelson (aka Lester Gillis) was never incarcerated at Alcatraz. He was on the lam in August 1934 when the prison first opened, and was killed in a gunfight with FBI agents later that year. 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 The Ed Sullivan Show: Episode #15.44 (1962) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Finding a Purpose of Life
1 October 2012 | by claudio_carvalhoSee all my reviews

In 1912, the notorious and violent prisoner Robert Franklin Stroud (Burt Lancaster) is transferred to the Leavenworth Prison convicted for murdering a man. When a guard cancels the visit of his mother Elizabeth Stroud (Thelma Ritter) 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 (Karl Malden) 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 (Betty Field) 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.

"Birdman of Alcatraz" is an impressive film based on a true story of a prisoner that finds a purpose of life raising and caring birds and becoming a recognized ornithologist by himself. Burt Lancaster has a top-notch performance in the role of Robert Franklin Stroud and the footages with birds are impressive. However, it seems that Stroud did not have the glamour of the character performed by Burt Lancaster and was actually a psychopath. My vote is nine.

Title (Brazil): "O Homem de Alcatraz" ("The Man of Alcatraz")


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