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Birdman of Alcatraz (1962)

Not Rated | | Biography, Crime, Drama | 15 September 1962 (Italy)
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2:53 | Trailer

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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)
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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:

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

The film implies that the Battle of Alcatraz was a result of deep frustrations with the prison system that finally exploded with two convicts releasing others with the sole purpose of causing a riot. In fact it was the result of a far more discreet escape attempt which turned into a battle when the convicts were unable to get out of the building as planned. Only six convicts were involved. See more »

Goofs

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 »

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 ...
See more »

Alternate Versions

European release is five minutes longer than original US theatrical version. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Red Skelton Hour: The Booze Man of Alcatraz (1962) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Excellent uplifting film in utterly depressing surroundings
21 April 2005 | by innis57See all my reviews

Always like Burt Lancaster's acting/entertainment ability, and he doesn't disappoint in "Birdman". I found this movie, whatever it's historical faults notwithstanding, to be an uplifting experience due to the characters ability to rise above the incredibly depressing circumstances of his existence. And, a sad commentary on societies inability to rehabilitate as in "To restore to good health or useful life, as through therapy and education.", those who stray from the straight and narrow. When men are treated with respect, or as animals, they usually respond in kind. Karl Malden's warden character summarized societies treatment of inmates. Whether using carrots or sticks, the end goal was conformity and submission, with true rehabilitation an incidental byproduct should it occur at all. There is little wasted footage in this film, the "quiet" periods mentioned in earlier comments, add to the realism. Think about it, here's a man who spent nearly 50 years of his life in solitary confinement, to do true justice, a silent film would have been more appropriate! Stroud was spared the death penalty by President Wilson, due to his mothers pleading on his behalf. I can't imagine the occupier of the White House today doing anything but smirk at such a request. Not a political statement, just a point of fact. Another point, this film was made while Stroud was still in prison, which he never viewed, and which failed to earn him his release before his death in 1963. Lancaster also played a convict in "Brute Force", one of his earliest films, and a good one.


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