Finally, after 4 decades, I got to see Birdman of Alcatraz. And a year ago I visited the island for the first time.
This is definitely a high-quality film, with a mixture of fact and artistic license. The rangers at Alcatraz still put emphasis on the dark side of Robert Stroud,and the role played by Burt Lancaster succeeds in offsetting this to a great extent.
Reviewer "silentscott" points out that the rangers have been promoting the idea that the movie says that Stroud had all his birds at Alcatraz, while the fact is that they were at Leavenworth. I got the same impression in my own tour. But actually the movie makes it very clear that the birds were left behind at Leavenworth (fate unstated), and that he had none at Alcatraz. Maybe it's time for the otherwise capable guides on the island to review the film again and see where it does diverge from the truth.
I was a young adult when the movie came out in 1962. Although I didn't get to see it until this past week (July 2004), I still remember the haunting Elmer Bernstein theme song that I would hear on the radio in the early 1960s. I now have that song in my own collection. But I am puzzled that while I watched that movie I did not hear any of the melody that was played on the air. Does anyone have an explanation for that?