Birdman of Alcatraz


Biography / Drama


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September 06, 2016 at 11:19 PM


Burt Lancaster as Robert Franklin Stroud
Telly Savalas as Feto Gomez
Edmond O'Brien as Tom Gaddis
Karl Malden as Harvey Shoemaker
720p 1080p
1.04 GB
23.976 fps
2hr 27 min
P/S 8 / 32
2.23 GB
23.976 fps
2hr 27 min
P/S 6 / 21

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Danusha_Goska Save Send Delete 8 / 10

Excellent Example of a Sadly Lost Film-making Style

"Birdman of Alcatraz" depicts a fictionalized version of the life of Robert Stroud, a real prisoner who served a life sentence in various American prisons, including Alcatraz.

As other viewers have commented, the film fictionalizes the life of the real Robert Stroud, who was a murderer and who has been accused of being a pedophile, as well.

This fictionalization should not interfere with an intelligent viewer's enjoyment of a fine film.

Too, this fictionalization doesn't change the key features of Stroud's case -- a bad man, a man who is shown on screen to be a real murderer, was condemned to death by the state. That much is true from Stroud's real life story, and that much is shown in the film.

Stroud was a difficult person who did not treat other people decently. That much was true of the real Stroud and that is shown in the film.

Stroud's mother pled for his life and President Woodrow Wilson commuted his sentence to life. A warden, aware of how difficult Stroud was to control, declared that Stroud be kept in segregation. That much is true in Stroud's real life story, and that is depicted in the film.

Finally, Stroud became noteworthy for his research and writing on canaries, after he found an injured bird in the recreation yard. That much was true in Stroud's life, and that is shown in the film.

Those who argue that the film is not as accurate as it could be have a point, but the film does follow the facts outlined above.

The film is quiet, and black and white, and yet riveting.

It is an example of a kind of film-making that is sadly lost today. The film attempts a serious discussion of serious issues: the value of a man, the death penalty, the role of prisons, their wardens and guards, the possibility of human connection, even under conditions of relative isolation. Stroud makes some human contact with his guard, and with a fellow inmate he communicates with via tapping.

The film is riveting because its entire cast has a kind of star power that is hard to find today. Even given his quiet, surly performance in this black and white film, you can't take your eyes off of Burt Lancaster. The supporting cast is equally excellent.

This film is a must for anyone interested in cinematic treatments of prisons, of the death penalty, of questions of human worth, even the worth of persons who display their lack of worth in, almost, their every act, and, the kind of films of the late fifties and early sixties that provided intelligent discussions of social issues.

It's also a great movie if you just want to be entertained.

Reviewed by Spikeopath 9 / 10

Brilliant film...Lancaster's finest performance...

This is a loose telling story of Robert Franklin Stroud (Burt Lancaster) who became known as The Birdman Of Alcatraz.

Have to say I have avoided this film for years purely because of its leading man, but before you Burt Lancaster fans jump on me let me say here and now that I'm now very much a convert these days. A dear on line friend of mine convinced me to check out some of his work last year after they found out I wasn't all that impressed with him, so after watching Atlantic City and his supreme film noirs, I was quickly back in line. This one landed from the rental folk strangely after me enjoying Lancaster in The Unforgiven only last week.

A strange thing with prison films is that few of them actually capture the oppressive feel of incarceration, so when I see one that does, then I'm very over the moon. Director John Frankenheimer manages to put the viewer in with Stroud because the pace is perfect, it's meant to be slow, prison time is slow time, the film is always close and intimate to give you the feel of being there. This film, much like two other greats from the genre in Papillon & Escape From Alcatraz, needs its lead actor to be restrained yet brood with menace, and Lancaster delivers from the top draw here. How unfortunate for him that he should turn in a fantastic turn in the same year that Atticus & Lawrence were dazzling cinema goers. The film never veers into over sentimental slumber because there is much more going on with Stroud, be it his Mother, business acumen, or the political fall out of this murderous man's time in prison.

Watching such macho men like Lancaster & Savalas grow fond of our feathered friends is priceless and brings about scenes that are both touching and poignant at the same time. Whatever the distortion of the facts as regards Robert Stroud's penal life, one thing we do know is that he made an official impact and it makes for one hell of a story. Added bonus here is that you've got Frankenheimer directing deftly in his black & white style, aided considerably by the smart cinematography from Burnett Guffey. And of course from a memorable performance from Big Bad Burt.

I was so impressed I ordered it for my own collection. 9/10

Reviewed by dbdumonteil 9 / 10

A fine film from a true star.

If you feel a deep interest in John Frankenheimer and set up a DVD collection, you need three indispensable works from this versatile filmmaker dating from his decade glory: the sixties. They are "the Mandchurian Candidate" (1962) the template for the political film based on suspicion and conspiracy. "Seconds" (1966), the film in which Frankenheimer's obsessions and camera work reached an incredible peak. It could also be the granddaddy of the meandering "Abre Los Ojos" (1997) made by Alejandro Amenabar. And at last this "Birdman of Alcatraz". It was the film that put its creator on the map back in the sixties and it's arguably the first treasure in his filmography.

Robert Stroud is a very impulsive man and this serious drawback led him to commit several murders. After having been sentenced to life imprisonment and jailed in harsh conditions, he rescues a small sparrow from the storm and raises it until he can fly. From this watershed event, his life is going to take another grand dimension. A boundless passion for ornithology makes him famous all over the world. But during his prison sentence, he's transfered to the Alcatraz prison and this change stops him from going on in his research and his knowledge related to birds.

The adaptation of a book relating the life of the real Robert Stroud was a project close to Frankenheimer's heart and while discovering this very long film (about two hours and a half), one recognizes his hallmark in the directing with mind-boggling angles and striking camera movements. The director also plays a lot with the lighting and the scenery of the prison and notably Stroud's cell. Some shots showcase Burt Lancaster behind the bars with their shadows reflected on his face. A neat metaphor to make the audience understand that he can't escape from the scenery that surrounds him but also from the ruthless laws of justice.

The scenario also spans what made Frankenheimer a kingpin in American cinema. His set of themes revolve around the alienation of the individual in the modern world, his inability to adapt to it and the rules, constraints of society which dwarf him. At the outset, Stroud is an outcast and can't conform to the rules and laws which govern the USA. But the discovery of this wounded sparrow will make him reconcile with life. His thirst for knowledge, his willful persona for developing and deepening his knowledge in ornithology are so potent that one virtually forgets the restrained, cramped space he lives in. His cell is fraught with birds singing, cages galore test tubes for his experiences and learning books. Frankenheimer achieves the feat to make this paradox endure and so to move the audience: to film a nearly fulfilled life in a tiny space and to turn a nearly bestial human being in a respectable man. That's the victory of the individual on a repressive system.

So unlike the two Frankenheimer pieces of work I quoted in my first paragraph which spread ed an unchanging pessimistic whiff, especially "Seconds", "Birdman of Alcatraz" is bestowed with an upbeat, optimistic feel. And I won't come back on Burt Lancaster's imposing, subdued performance which has so much been rightly lauded. One word about Robert Stroud's mother: she may be a distant cousin of Raymond Shaw's in "the Mandchurian Candidate" for she is against the marriage of her son.

Whenever this film is evoked, the controversy about the real Robert Stroud comes back. They always tell he wasn't this brainy, sensitive man described in Frankenheimer's film but it doesn't stop you from watching one of the most momentous films in the filmmaker's canon and probably his most harrowing one.

NB: the real Robert Stroud was never allowed to watch the film.

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