Birdman of Alcatraz

Birdman of Alcatraz

John Frankenheimer (1962)

PG Certificate


Our Score
Real-life killer Robert Stroud was apparently quite unlike the tough, taciturn inmate portrayed by Burt Lancaster here in director John Frankenheimer's thought-provoking study of one man's attempt to survive an unforgiving prison system. Stroud used his years in solitary confinement to become a world authority on ornithology, despite the cruel injustices meted out by the prison warden (convincingly played by Karl Malden). Lancaster was Oscar-nominated for his performance, which is ranked by many to be one of the finest of his career. He is well supported by fellow nominees Telly Savalas and Thelma Ritter, and by Streets of San Francisco star Malden. Burnett Guffey's masterly black-and-white photography perfectly captures the claustrophobia of life in jail.


Biopic of imprisoned murderer Robert Stroud, who was sentenced to spend 53 years in solitary confinement on the island prison. Discovering a new purpose when he nurses a sick sparrow back to health, he begins to study birds - and over the ensuing decades becomes a renowned authority on the subject. Starring Burt Lancaster, Karl Malden, Thelma Ritter and Telly Savalas.

Cast & Crew

Robert Stroud Burt Lancaster
Harvey Shoemaker Karl Malden
Elizabeth Stroud Thelma Ritter
Feto Gomez Telly Savalas
Tom Gaddis Edmond O'Brien
Stella Johnson Betty Field
Bull Ransom Neville Brand
Roy Comstock Hugh Marlowe
Burns Len Lesser
Director John Frankenheimer
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Other Information

Language: EnglishBlack and whiteTheatrical distributor: United Artists Corp. LtdAvailable on: video, DVD and Blu-ray