Birdman of Alcatraz (DVD) ~ Burt Lancaster (actor) Cover Art

Birdman of Alcatraz (DVD)

Burt Lancaster (actor), Hugh Marlowe (actor) and John Frankenheimer (director)


Current Price: $21.89

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Release Note

John Frankenheimer scored his first success with this, his third theatrical feature and his second collaboration with producer-star Burt Lancaster (they would make five films together all told). Lancaster delivers an angry, brooding performance as real-life criminal Robert Stroud, a violent killer who, while in solitary confinement, became an internationally recognized authority on birds and their diseases. Based on the book by Thomas E. Gaddis, Frankenheimer creates a portrait of a withdrawn, antisocial prisoner who discovers his own potential after reluctantly rescuing a wounded sparrow from a storm and nursing it back to health. Lancaster's quiet portrayal comes from his eyes and restrained body language, earning him his second Oscar nomination. Costars Telly Savalas (as the talkative "neighbor" from the cell next door) and Thelma Ritter (as his controlling mother) were also nominated, but Frankenheimer's sensitive direction draws equally fine performances from Neville Brand, playing against type as the prison guard who slowly befriends Stroud, and Karl Malden as the tough warden whose ideas of confinement and punishment prompted Stroud to follow-up his studies of birds with a treatise on prison reform. This somber, subdued tale offers no truly happy ending, but it does present a powerful portrait of one man's efforts to earn back his dignity and respect in the worst of conditions. --Sean Axmaker

How does bitter convict Robert Stroud cope with a lifetime of solitary confinement? The answer, in a sense, comes from abovein the form of a feeble sparrow he finds in the isolation yard. Stroud brings this newfound 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 ornithologistand achieves a greater sense of freedom and purpose behind prison walls than many in the outside world will ever know. The "finest prison picture ever made" (Variety), this inspirational and compelling classic stars Burt Lancaster in an OscarÂ(r)-nominated* performance as Stroudthe convict who, in his power to heal birds, finds the power to heal himself. *1962: Actor


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