A surly convicted murderer held in permanent isolation redeems himself when he becomes a renowned bird expert.

[first lines]
Tour guide: ...during which you will see all of the man-made and natural beauties, the most spectacular bay in the world. You'll pass beneath the famous Golden Gate Bridge, considered by most authorities to be one of the most striking structures ever erected by man. From the bay, you will thrill to the magnificent San Francisco skyline. Your cruise ship, the Harbor King, will circle Alcatraz, a maximum security prison containing the most dangerous criminals in America. It has been the home of such notorious figures as Al Capone, Baby Face Nelson, and Machine Gun Kelly.
[last lines]
Robert Stroud: Tom? You know what they used to call Alcatraz in the old days?
Tom Gaddis: What?
Robert Stroud: Bird Island.
Tom Gaddis: [narrating] Robert Stroud's petition for parole has been denied annually for 24 years. Age 72, he is now in his 53rd year of imprisonment.
Robert Stroud: Why did you come 2,000 miles for nothing? Just to see me once a month?
Stella Johnson: I came because I'm your wife, that's why. Bob, the only life I got is you.
Robert Stroud: Then you've got a damned poor future, old girl. I'm never gonna get outta here.
Stella Johnson: I could get a job in a factory. I could write letters every day. It would be like old times.
Robert Stroud: You'd wither away and die waiting. Forget it, Stell. It's the end of the line.
Robert Stroud: Please, Bob.
Robert Stroud: Now, listen to me. Listen carefully. You fought your heart out for me. You fought your heart out for me, but the sun's gone down. And don't look for it to rise again. I want you to pretend that I'm a dead man. I want you to pretend... that you're standin' on my grave.
Robert Stroud: What the hell is eatin' you?
Bull Ransom: Twelve years I've known you, Stroud. Twelve years, sun up and sun down, I've had to look at that frozen mug of yours. And in all that time, never so much as a how-de-do out of you. I try to treat you decent 'cause you got no bed of roses in there. So I put my head on the block and I dummy up about the birds. Did you say, "Thanks, my boy?" Just once you say, "Thanks? Or maybe I just didn't hear you. You're a soft speaker. You... you want a pop bottle? You want a pop bottle? Do I hear maybe, maybe the word "please" someplace? Or could I be goin' deef? "Hand over the... hand over the box," says you. "Hand over the box," like you was the Czar of Russia or somebody. Well, you get this, Bucko. I may be just a uniform to you, but you got no patent on feelings. I'm a man, the same as you, and I wanna be treated like one. So you'd better come up with a few manners with me, or don't even expect the time of day from yours truly!
Elizabeth Stroud: Sit down, Robbie. I want to talk to you about her.
Robert Stroud: About Stella?
Elizabeth Stroud: Your association with her will bring you nothing but trouble.
Robert Stroud: I don't know what you mean.
Elizabeth Stroud: I thought from the start she's the wrong kind of a woman for you to align yourself with.
Robert Stroud: She's worked her heart out for me. She saved my bacon.
Elizabeth Stroud: All right. She was of use temporarily, but she's served her purpose. And now if you'll follow my advice, you'll get rid of her.
Robert Stroud: I don't understand what you're talkin' about, Mom. She's my wife.
Elizabeth Stroud: Your trouble began with that other woman in Alaska. She's the same kind of a woman. She's a common adventuress.
Robert Stroud: Don't say things like that, Mother. She's a good woman. And she's kind. And she'd do anything in the world for me.
Elizabeth Stroud: It's disaster, Robbie. She'll bring you nothing but heartache. Besides, all she wanted was the publicity.
Robert Stroud: Mother... you can't be serious. I can't believe this is happening.
Elizabeth Stroud: Give her up, Robbie. Forget her.
Robert Stroud: You act as though you wanted me here for all time. With you as my only outside connection.
Elizabeth Stroud: Then you choose her instead of your own mother?
Robert Stroud: Don't say any more, Mother. Please.
Elizabeth Stroud: That's your decision? To desert me?
Harvey Shoemaker: Bob... I've been sent here as a delegate of the Bureau to make you an offer.
Robert Stroud: That's what I've been waiting for.
Harvey Shoemaker: Now the bureau is willing to let you keep your birds. You can even sell 'em. Now this is their official proposal. You can continue to raise and sell the birds, but the profits will be turned over to the prison welfare fund, and you will receive a salary in the form of a share of the profits. I consider that quite a generous offer under the circumstances. Frankly, it's more than I would have offered, had I the authority.
Albert Comstock: Well, Stroud?
Robert Stroud: Let me see if I understand you. You're proposing that the United States government go into the canary-bird business. That's against private enterprise. You sound like a Bolshevik, Harvey.
Albert Comstock: You have no legal right to raise canaries at all.
Robert Stroud: I know. Rule 60 of the Federal Bureau of Prisons Manual: "An inmate cannot be permitted to operate a business, no matter how legitimate, while in prison." That right?
Harvey Shoemaker: You quoted it correctly.
Robert Stroud: That's what I thought. That's why I'm confused. The rule says I can't have a business. You say I can, provided I give you the profits. It's reinventing regulations. It's not like you.
Albert Comstock: Mr. Shoemaker came all the way from Washington to try to work out a plan so you can keep your blasted birds.
Robert Stroud: Don't con an old con, Warden. He came because of public opinion, and you know it. 50,000 signatures on a petition. Congressmen jumping all over MacLeod's back. I think I got you over a barrel, Harvey.
Harvey Shoemaker: Is that you last word?
Robert Stroud: I could use more room. For my birds.