Burt Lancaster plays the role of true-life killer Robert Stroud. Most of the film shows Stroud being detained in Leavenworth prison, as he was only later transfered to Alcatraz, and it was at Leavenworth that he developed his amazing interests in birds. Interesting fact but not in the film, the real Robert Stroud met the first black heavyweight champion of the world Jack Johnson, when he too was imprisoned in Leavenworth after coming back to the US from his exile for breaching the Mann Act.
Karl Malden always gives a first rate performance but the star of the show is Lancaster, a truly brilliant performance in surely his best ever film. The film length of 2hrs 23mins lends to the claustrophobic atmosphere and at times you feel as though you are in prison with Stroud, such is the way this fantastic filmography is shot. A pre-Kojack Telly Savalas (with hair) adds great support though at times a little bit hammy.
The dvd visually is good but the sound is a little disappointing, at times it sounds as though the actors have a lisp whenever pronouncing a word that has an "s" in it. That aside, it really is worth an evenings viewing.