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Tuesday November 20th 2018

The Birdman Of Alcatraz | 1962

Birdman Of Alcatraz location location: Alcatraz Island, San Francisco Bay, California
Birdman Of Alcatraz location: the supposedly escape-proof prison: Alcatraz Island, San Francisco Bay, California | Photograph: iStockphoto / Nickolay Stanev

The Federal Bureau of Prisons was not best pleased with the idea of filming the story of Robert Stroud, and offered no co-operation, so Leavenworth (where Stroud was originally imprisoned) and Alcatraz were constructed on studio backlot.

Strangely, the original director was the veteran of Ealing comedies, Charles Crichton, who made a belated comeback with A Fish Called Wanda, but he left after just three weeks of work.

The real Alcatraz Island, which once housed ‘Machine Gun’ Kelly and Al Capone, is seen in a long shot from San Francisco Bay. Restrictions eased after the prison closed in 1963, and the real Alcatraz was used for Point Blank, Escape From Alcatraz and The Rock.

Alcatraz is now a national park and can be visited by boat from Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. Included in the fascinating tour, you can see the real Robert Stroud’s cell. Trips are popular so, if you want to avoid disappointment, best book ahead.