- Bennett, Breen, and the Birdman of Alcatraz: A Case Study of Collaborative Censorship between the Production Code Administration and the Federal Bureau of Prisons
- Film History: An International Journal
- Indiana University Press
- Volume 28, Number 2, 2016
- pp. 1-31
- View Citation
- Additional Information
In bringing to the screen the life of murderer Robert Stroud in Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), filmmakers encountered official obstruction from the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, James V. Bennett. Campaigning for the release of Stroud, Burt Lancaster retaliated by exposing Bennett’s efforts to censor the film as evidence of a personal vendetta against the prisoner. However, new archival research demonstrates how the bureau had collaborated with Hollywood’s own censorship body, the Production Code Administration, for many years—and that Birdman was in fact the culmination of a decades-long struggle to control all films about Alcatraz.