Birdman of Alcatraz (1962)

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John Frankenheimer directs Burt Lancaster, Karl Malden and Telly Savalas in this stark prison biopic of Robert Stroud, a brutalised man who begins to care for birds and study their health from his isolated cell. 

A fine, worthy biopic that transcends a lot of its unavoidable cliche through the dynamic performance of its star. Lancaster truly transmogrifies himself on screen from his normal proud, manly fighter to a sensitive, unbroken elderly man. The length and claustrophobia of the setting may be a little off putting, as does some of the whitewashing of the real Stroud’s continued criminal attitudes, but this is one of the last great black and white films.

8

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