- Format: NTSC
- Studio: MGM Canada
- Release Date: Aug. 5 2008
- Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
- ASIN: B00192YKPO
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #32,630 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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?
Burt Lancaster earned an oscar nomination for his role of Robert Stroud, a convicted killer who was sentenced to solitary confinement while awaiting execution. His impending hanging was subsequently commuted, but he did spend over 50 years behind bars, with very little contact with other people and even less with the outside world. The movie presents Stroud in a pretty benevolent light, although in reality he was apparently very strange and disliked by most others.
Originally banned from having nearly any kind of activity as a hobby, Stroud eventually begins to raise sparrows and other birds while imprisoned in Leavenworth prison (he never had any at Alcatraz). Although Stroud only had a few years of grade school education, he teaches himself several languages and many sciences while in prison. As a result of making "home remedies" to treat his birds when they begin to die off, he eventually writes some well-regarded books on bird diseases and their treatment.
The black-and-white movie was released while Stroud was still alive in 1962 but he never saw it. He died of natural causes on November 21, 1963, just one day before president Kennedy was assassinated, and his death went largely unnoticed.
Co-starring Karl Malden as the warden, Neville Brand as a guard, and Telly Savalas (oscar nominated) as a fellow immate, it was well-acted through out. The 149 minute film has French and Spanish subtitles, chapters and a trailer.