Birdman of Alcatraz
The Story of A Real and Living ManDVD - 2001
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Tom Gaddis (narrating): "That's the island of Alcatraz. There's a man leaving there today after 17 years imprisonment. His name is Robert Stroud. He spent most of his life behind bars, including 43 years in solitary confinement. He has never used a telephone or driven an automobile. The last time he broke bread with another human being was in 1916, the year Kaiser Wilhelm ordered the sinking of the Lucitania in World War One. My name is Tom Gaddis. I write a book about this man."
Warden Shoemaker: "Robert F. Stroud. Breaking that train window is a serious offense." Robert Stroud: "It was hot. I was thinkin' o' my lungs." Warden: "Did you think about the possible consequences? You might've started a riot." Stroud: "Even a convict's got a right to breathe." Warden: "Rights? I don't think you know the meaning of the word. In 1909 in Alaska, you appointed yourself judge, jury and executioner, and killed one... 'Charles Donner', because he allegedly beat up a friend named 'Katie Malone'... a prostitute. Stroud, you were transferred here to Leavenworth because of an inferior record. Now I propose to give you a fresh start."
Warden Shoemaker: "Such rights as you will enjoy, are listed here in my 'rules and regulations'. There are 86 of them. I suggest you memorize them." Robert Stroud: "I know 'em. They're the same in all pens. They tell ya when to eat. When to sleep. When to go to the privy." Warden: "Precisely. And what you'll do for every minute, 24 hours a day... You're going to be here for nine long years, Stroud. So with, or without your cooperation, I intend to make a man of you. Before you check out of these gates, you'll conform to our ideas of how you should behave. You'll learn the lesson now, or you'll learn it five years from now, but you'll learn. For breaking that train window, all your privileges are suspended for 30 days. That's all Mr. Ransom." Bull Ransom: "Let's go."
Warden Shoemaker: "Stroud, what's the matter, man? What's eating you up inside, Bob? You act as though you hate everyone in the world." Robert Stroud: "You live in a pus-hole, you act accordingly." Warden: "Alright, Bob. Maybe 30 days in the hole'll make you happy to see a human face again." Stroud: "Don't count on it... Harvey..." (walks into isolation cell)
Kramer: "I don't think 30 days in the hole are gonna cool that j-bird off, Warden." Warden Shoemaker: "Now what do you suggest, Mr. Kramer?" Kramer: "He's as mean as a boar and a hog. If it was me, I'd keep him away from the test of the inmates, permanently." Warden: "Isolation?" Kramer: "Yessir." Warden: "No, I don't give up on a man that easily. Stroud comes from good stock. He'll shape up." Kramer: "He's a dingbat, Warden. He's dangerous." Warden: "He's my responsibility, Mr. Kramer. Now you let me worry about his behavior." Kramer: "Yessir."
Warden Shoemaker: "I just came from Kramer's widow. I couldn't look her in the eye, Stroud. I feel responsible for her husband's death - he warned me about you... he told me you were dangerous, but I wouldn't listen... and now he's cold in his grave. Already you've taken the lives of two human beings, and you haven't even felt a twinge of conscience." Robert Stroud: "Whattya want me to do, cry? Say I'm sorry? I'm only sorry for Kramer's wife." Warden: "And the dead man?" Stroud: "He was fixin' to brain me with his club. I protected myself." Warden: "No remorse, huh? No pity. Just an animal." Stroud: "Ain't that what these cages are for? Animals?" Warden: "I have to make out a report about this killing. I hope that it'll help to hang you."
Robert Stroud: "Look, Ma. You fought. Spent all your money. You got old followin' me from jail to jail. It's time to douse the lights." Elizabeth Stroud: "I told you, Robbie. I will not let them kill you. I'm going to Washington, D.C., very soon. I haven't begun to fight."
Warden Shoemaker: "Look around you, Stroud. This is going to be your home for as long as you live." Robert Stroud: "Ain't much more you can do to me, is there?" Warden: "A few things. Consider this: You will not be permitted to associate with the other prisoners, not even to exercise with them. You'll eat all your meals alone for the rest of your life. Visiting and corresponding privileges will be limited to your immediate family. And there'll be no work. Nothing to do but count the hours and the days and the years."
Robert Stroud: "They're tearin' down my gallows." Warden Shoemaker: "To my great regret." Stroud: "Yeah, it must've galled you to give that order, huh Harv? You know, I think I've got you figured out, Shoemaker. The first day I came here, you as much as asked me to get down on my knees and whimper. I wouldn't do it then, and I won't do it now. I won't lick your hand, and that's what eats you, ain't it keeper? Well you keep this in mind: A man ain't whipped until he quits. And I'll never give you that pleasure. (kicks cell door) Now get out of here!" Warden: "I'll never forget you as long as I live. No matter what happens to me - no matter where I am, if I ever get a chance to punish you further, I'll do it." Stroud: "Drop in from time to time. See how long I stick around." Warden: "Oh, I don't have to drop in on you. I'll always know where you are."
Tom Gaddis (narrating): "Being in solitary is like being on rails. A man pushes your food through the door. You eat alone. Once a week, you get a shower. You walk in the bullpen. Once a month, an inmate comes and cuts your hair. You read. You pace your cell. Once a week, you get clean laundry. You pace your cell.The routine's always the same. The only way you can break it is to go on sick call. You sit and listen to your heartbeat. You hear your life ticking away. The thing that swells in your head until you lose your mind... is that you know for sure... what's coming next..."
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