Birdman of Alcatraz (1962)

Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), directed by John Frankenheimer.

The core of this film has marvelous elements:

The downside:

I think the "birds" themselves are easy to accept. If you've ever lived alone with only a pet for company you know how deeply important they become to you. It always ends in tears.

I note that the prisons are stark but seem humane and well-run for the time. The guards are professional and we have no beatings or abuse.

Neville Brand has perhaps his most sympathetic role as a guard who grows old with the inmates. Telly Savalas provides the only comic relief as another prisoner. Karl Malden, as always, is excellent as a warden who believes he is doing the right thing, but probably isn't.

This is based on a true story, but the real Robert Stroud was a less appealing character, a high-IQ psychopath, dangerous to guards and inmates alike and a sexual predator. That's why he was in solitary so much: everyone was afraid of him, with good reason.

Twilight Time Blu-ray with an excellent image. The usual crew provide an excited non-stop commentary track.