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 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 »
In the last scene at the dock in 1959, while Stroud is talking to the reporters, the Alcatraz launch is seen leaving the dock and heading back toward the island. When Stroud then talks with Tom Gaddis, the launch can be seen over Stroud's shoulder, back at the dock again, and is again in the process of casting off. 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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