Birdman of Alcatraz

Synopsis: 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.
Production: MGM Home Entertainment
  Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 8 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
147 min


You will see all the

man-made and natural beauties

of the most spectacular bay in the world.

You'll pass beneath

the famous Golden Gate Bridge,

considered 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 Harbour King,

will circle Alcatraz,

a maximum-security prison containing

the most dangerous criminals in America,

and has been the home of such

notorious figures as Al Capone,

Baby Face Nelson

and Machine Gun Kelly.

That's the island of Alcatraz.

There's a man leaving there today

after 17 years' imprisonment.

His name is Robert Stroud.

He's spent most of his life behind bars,

including 43 years

in solitary confinement.

He has never used a telephone

or driven an automobile.

The last time he broke bread

with another human being was in 1916,

the year Kaiser Wilhelm ordered the

sinking of the Lusitania in World War I.

My name is Tom Gaddis.

I wrote a book about this man.

Our story

properly begins in the year 1912.

A cargo of rebellious prisoners

was being transferred

from the federal penitentiary at McNeil

Island, Washington, to The Big Top,

the name given by convicts

to the prison at Leavenworth, Kansas.

Shut up!

Make one more move

and I'll take you off at the neck.

Robert F Stroud.

Breaking that window

was a serious offence.

It was hot. I was thinking of my lungs.

Did you think about the consequences?

You might have started a riot.

- Even a convict's got a right to breathe.

- Rights?

I don't think you know

the meaning of the word.

In 1909, in Alaska, you appointed yourself

judge, jury and executioner

and killed one... Charles Dahmer

because he allegedly beat up a friend

named Katie Malone... a prostitute.

You were transferred here to Leavenworth

because of an inferior record.

Now, I propose to give you a fresh start.

Such rights as you will enjoy are listed

here in my rules and regulations.

There are 86.

I suggest you memorise them.

I know 'em. They're the same in all pens.

They tell you when to eat,

when to sleep, when to go to the privy.

Precisely. And what you'll do

for every minute 24 hours a day.

You're going to be here

for nine long years, Stroud.

So with or without your cooperation,

I intend to make a man of you,

before you check out these gates.

You'll conform to our ideas

of how you should behave.

You'll learn the lesson now

or five years from now, but you'll learn.

For breaking that train window, all your

privileges are suspended for 30 days.

That's all, Mr Ransom.

Let's go.

You're one of the new fish

from McNeil, huh?


Yeah, well, I'm Tony Qualen.

Who are you?


You're lucky to be in this cellblock.

Boss here's a friend of mine.

Picture of your mother?

Put it back.

Put it back!

What did I do?

Just don't touch it again.

You know the guy

you're bunking with? Anthony?

Understand you and him

had a little misunderstanding.

Anthony is a friend of mine.

A very good friend.

He didn't mean nothin',

pickin' up the picture.

Beat it.

What kind of nut are you anyway? Just

because he picked up a picture of Mama?

Break it up!

Stroud! Stroud!

You ever mention

my mother again, I'll kill ya!


What's the matter, man?

What's eating you up inside, Bob?

You act as though you hate everyone.

You live in a pus-hole,

you act accordingly.

All right, Bob. Maybe 30 days in the hole'll

make you happy to see a face again.

Don't count on it... Harvey.

I don't think 30 days in the hole

is gonna cool that jaybird off, Warden.

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Guy Trosper

Guy Trosper (March 27, 1911 – December 19, 1963) was an American screenwriter. He came to prominence in Hollywood because of his scripts for two baseball movies: The Stratton Story in 1949, a big hit for James Stewart, and The Pride of St. Louis in 1952, for which he received an Academy Award nomination. This led him into a highly fertile creative period, during which he wrote the screenplays for Elvis Presley's breakout hit Jailhouse Rock in 1957, the complex western One-Eyed Jacks in 1961, and Birdman of Alcatraz in 1962, which he also produced. Trosper's last screenplay before his premature death was an adaptation of John le Carré's 1963 novel The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. The film was released in 1965; Trosper (posthumously) and co-writer Paul Dehn received a 1966 Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America, for Best Motion Picture Screenplay. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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