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
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 eight months before the death of Robert Stroud in Springfield, MO, where he had been held since 1959. See more »
When Tom Gaddis is waiting for Stroud at the boat landing in 1959, several automobile manufactures from one or two years later can be seen. See more »
...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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European release is five minutes longer than original US theatrical version. See more »
I've just seen this film on TV, it being several years since I saw it last. What a fine job Burt Lancaster makes of portraying Robert Stroud, a two-times murderer who finds inner peace when he nurses a young sparrow back to health in his prison cell. More birds follow, and in time he becomes an authority on bird pathology and develops several cures for diseases which were thought untreatable.
The quiet dignity that Lancaster gives to the part may or may not have been a genuine part of the real Robert Stroud but it is deeply moving, and the Director's careful treatment of the relationship he has with his long-term warder who grows old alongside him is one part of the film which can bring a lump to the throat.
Of course the film carries the message that not all prisoners should be treated with brutal disdain and could be seen as just another left-wing handwringer from a period when this kind of thing was popular among movie-makers, but it is certainly a top-notch example.
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