Rent Birdman of Alcatraz (1962)

3.9 of 5 from 81 ratings
2h 23min
Rent Birdman of Alcatraz Online DVD & Blu-ray Rental
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Synopsis:
How does bitter convict Robert Stroud (Burt Lancaster) cope with a lifetime of solitary confinement? The answer, in a sense, comes from above - in the form of a feeble sparrow he finds in the isolation yard. Stroud brings this new-found companion to his cell, nurses it to health and, from that point on, there's no turning back. Despite having only a third grade education, and no hope of parole, Stroud becomes a renowned ornithologist - and achieves a greater sense of freedom and purpose behind prison walls than many in the outside world will ever know.
Actors:
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Directors:
,
Producers:
Stuart Millar, Guy Trosper
Writers:
Guy Trosper, Thomas E. Gaddis
Others:
Burnett Guffey
Studio:
MGM Home Entertainment
Genres:
Classics, Drama
Awards:

1963 BAFTA Best Foreign Actor

1962 Venice Film Festival Best Actor

BBFC:
Release Date:
15/04/2002
Run Time:
143 minutes
Languages:
English, French, German, Italian, Spanish
Subtitles:
Dutch, English Hard of Hearing, French, German Hard of Hearing, Italian, Spanish
DVD Regions:
Region 2
Formats:
Pal
Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen 1.33:1 / 4:3
Colour:
B & W
Bonus:
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
BBFC:
Release Date:
06/08/2018
Run Time:
143 minutes
Languages:
English LPCM Mono
Subtitles:
English Hard of Hearing
Formats:
Pal
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 1.66:1
Colour:
B & W
BLU-RAY Regions:
B
Bonus:
  • Audio commentary with film historian and editor Paul Seydor, moderated by Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman
  • Illusion of Freedom: Richard H. Kline on John Frankenheimer's "Birdman of Alcatraz" (29 mins) - a new video piece on the film directed by Robert Fischer
  • An exclusive new video interview with film historian Sheldon Hall
  • Original Theatrical Trailer

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Reviews (2) of Birdman of Alcatraz

Classic - Birdman of Alcatraz review by D C

Spoiler Alert
29/06/2007

get settled down for a saturday afternoon classic with plenty of what you like to snack on.........

1 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

Life in Solitary. - Birdman of Alcatraz review by Steve Mason

Spoiler Alert
10/05/2021

Thoughtful and progressive (and lengthy) biopic of murderer Robert Stroud who entered prison in 1909 and remained in solitary confinement until 1959, and incarcerated until his death in 1963. While in Leavenworth Penitentiary he began to keep and study birds and developed remedies for previously untreatable diseases. Given a simple microscope he studied haematology and histology and wrote academic books. In order to keep his menagerie, he learned about the law.

When Stroud (Burt Lancaster) is first imprisoned he is wearing stripes and chains. He feeds his birds with insects freely infesting the jail. Over the years, under the control of a reforming public servant (Karl Malden) the jails become cleaner and safer and less physically brutal. But the film is clear that they remain instruments of revenge, and fail because they do not mend the psychological faults of the convicts.

The film is a little vague on Stroud's own mentality. He seems a sociopath, resentful of society, of anyone but his mother. He kills a warden. But his sullen malevolence is soon ameliorated by nurturing his birds. At first he does it to break the monotony of solitary confinement, but begins to live vicariously through them. There's a great, ironic shot of Stroud viewed though the bars of a birdcage. Eventually his obsession releases his talent, or even genius.

Lancaster does a fine job in maintaining interest in this introverted, troubled man who isn't all that easy to like. Frankenheimer overcomes the limitation of shooting within a tiny space by dealing mostly in closeups and expressionistic camera angles and set design. I don't think we truly get a realistic idea of what compelled Stroud to kill and then change so remarkably. But the film mostly has an agenda of reform and it makes its argument entertainingly and persuasively.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.