Prison movies

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1.
Le Trou (1960)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
In prison four long-sentence inmates planning an elaborate escape cautiously induct a new inmate to join in their scheme which leads to distrust and uncertainty. (132 mins.)
Director: Jacques Becker
“ Great movie with too little votes. Especially if you're into prison movies, this is one of the best. ” - trackmarked
 
2.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 9.3/10 X  
Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency. (142 mins.)
Director: Frank Darabont
“ Nr. 1 on IMDb and definitely a good movie, one almost anyone will enjoy. ” - trackmarked
 
3.
A Man Escaped (1956)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A captured French Resistance fighter during WWII engineers a daunting escape from prison. (101 mins.)
Director: Robert Bresson
“ Also a movie that deserves more mention for "normal" movie watchers. If you're into movies, this is one you must see. ” - trackmarked
 
4.
Stalag 17 (1953)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
When two escaping American World War II prisoners are killed, the German POW camp barracks black marketeer, J.J. Sefton, is suspected of being an informer. (120 mins.)
Director: Billy Wilder
“ In a barrack on a POW camp the prisoners starts suspecting one of them being an informer for the germans. ” - trackmarked
 
5.
The Great Escape (1963)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
Allied prisoners of war plan for several hundred of their number to escape from a German camp during World War II. (172 mins.)
Director: John Sturges
“ Prisoners on a P.O.W camp plan a great escape. One of the most entertaining prison escape movies I've seen. It's long, in a good way. ” - trackmarked
 
6.
Prison Break (2005 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
Due to a political conspiracy, an innocent man is sent to death row and his only hope is his brother, who makes it his mission to deliberately get himself sent to the same prison in order to break the both of them out, from the inside. (44 mins.)
“ This concerns the first season. Don't know if I would like it as much nowadays, but when I saw it a few years ago I thought it was really great and very entertaining. ” - trackmarked
 
7.
Cell 211 (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
The story of two men on different sides of a prison riot -- the inmate leading the rebellion and the young guard trapped in the revolt, who poses as a prisoner in a desperate attempt to survive the ordeal. (113 mins.)
Director: Daniel Monzón
“ Really good and entertaining prison movie. If you don't like foreign movies, consider watching it anyway! ” - trackmarked
 
8.
Cool Hand Luke (1967)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
A laid back Southern man is sentenced to two years in a rural prison, but refuses to conform. (126 mins.)
“ A film about the prisoners in a southern chain-gang and one of the prisoner's escape attempts and other adventures. ” - trackmarked
 
9.
Escape from Alcatraz (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Alcatraz is the most secure prison of its time. It is believed that no one can ever escape from it, until three daring men make a possible successful attempt at escaping from one of the most infamous prisons in the world. (112 mins.)
Director: Donald Siegel
“ Great retelling of the escape from Alcatraz in 1962. ” - trackmarked
 
10.
Birdman of Alcatraz (1962)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A surly convicted murderer held in permanent isolation redeems himself when he becomes a renowned bird expert. (147 mins.)
“ A not so true, true story about the Birdman of Alcatraz. Think of it more as fiction, and it'll one of the best prison dramas ever made. Burt Lancaster does a great acting performance. ” - trackmarked
 
11.
The Experiment (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
For two weeks, 20 male participants are hired to play prisoners and guards in a prison. The "prisoners" have to follow seemingly mild rules, and the "guards" are told to retain order without using physical violence. (120 mins.)
“ An experiment gone wrong. Great, entertaining movie. ” - trackmarked
 
12.
The Human Condition I: No Greater Love (1959)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
A Japanese pacifist, unable to face the dire consequences of conscientious objection, is transformed by his attempts to compromise with the demands of war-time Japan. (208 mins.)
“ The first movie in a trilogy, this movies shows us Chinese POWs being imprisoned and forced to work in a mine. The main character is a japenese who is working for the rights of these chinese prisoners. ” - trackmarked
 
13.
Papillon (1973)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A man befriends a fellow criminal as the two of them begin serving their sentence on a dreadful prison island, which inspires the man to plot his escape. (151 mins.)
“ Entertaining movie about prisoners on a prison island and their escape attempt. ” - trackmarked
 
14.
The Green Mile (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
The lives of guards on Death Row are affected by one of their charges: a black man accused of child murder and rape, yet who has a mysterious gift. (189 mins.)
Director: Frank Darabont
“ A prison movie with a fantasy element. A story about prisoners on death row and one of the prisoner's magic abilities. ” - trackmarked
 
15.
King of Devil's Island (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Norwegian winter, early 20th century. On the boys home Bastoy, a new inmate leads the boys to a violent uprising against a brutal regime. How far is he willing to go to attain freedom? (116 mins.)
Director: Marius Holst
“ A great movie about an early 20th century juvenile prison on a norwegian Island. A really entertaining, but also cold movie about injustice. ” - trackmarked
 
16.
I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Wrongly convicted James Allen serves in the intolerable conditions of a southern chain gang, which later comes back to haunt him. (92 mins.)
Director: Mervyn LeRoy
“ A great chain gang film. It's more about being a fugitive, but that too belongs to the prison-genre I guess. Very good movie. ” - trackmarked
 
17.
Hunger (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Irish republican Bobby Sands leads the inmates of a Northern Irish prison in a hunger strike. (96 mins.)
Director: Steve McQueen
“ A drama movie about a prisoner's hunger strike. Strong performance by Fassbender and a well executed story. ” - trackmarked
 
18.
In the Name of the Father (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A man's coerced confession to an IRA bombing he did not commit results in the imprisonment of his father as well. An English lawyer fights to free them. (133 mins.)
Director: Jim Sheridan
“ Great film, one of my favorites. The fact that a huge part of it took place in prison isn't what made this movie so good, that's why it's not higher placed on this list. ” - trackmarked
 
19.
Con Air (1997)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Newly paroled ex-con and former U.S. Ranger Cameron Poe finds himself trapped in a prisoner transport plane when the passengers seize control. (115 mins.)
Director: Simon West
“ A transport plane for prisoners is taken under control by the prisoners. Entertaining at least. ” - trackmarked
 
20.
The Defiant Ones (1958)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Two escaped convicts chained together, white and black, must learn to get along in order to elude capture. (96 mins.)
Director: Stanley Kramer
“ Even though no time is spent in prison in this movie, the fact that they are fugitives escaped from a chain gang and the whole movie is about trying to get away, makes me wanna include it. Maybe I'll make a "Fugitive" sub-genre list later. ” - trackmarked
 
21.
The Hurricane (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
The story of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, a boxer wrongly imprisoned for murder, and the people who aided in his fight to prove his innocence. (146 mins.)
Director: Norman Jewison
“ Good movie, even if it might not be 100% honest with the truth? The prison part is not what makes it good, mostly the struggle from his friends outside. ” - trackmarked
 
22.
Down by Law (1986)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Two innocent people are arrested. An interesting third person, with broken English, joins them in their cell. On his idea, they decide to escape from the prison. Their journey is the rest of the movie. (107 mins.)
Director: Jim Jarmusch
“ A different kind of prison movie that focuses on the characters and dialogue more than the plot itself. About one third of this movie is spent in prison. Great film, but because of other things then being in prison. ” - trackmarked
 
23.
Midnight Express (1978)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Billy Hayes, an American college student, is caught smuggling drugs out of Turkey and thrown into prison. (121 mins.)
Director: Alan Parker
 
24.
A Prophet (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A young Arab man is sent to a French prison. (155 mins.)
Director: Jacques Audiard
“ Was expecting much more from this one but still a good movie. About the organised crime in prisons. Very strong performances from the actors, especially Tahar Rahim. ” - trackmarked
 
25.
The Escapist (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
Frank Perry is an institutionalized convict fourteen years into a life sentence without parole. When his estranged daughter falls ill... (102 mins.)
Director: Rupert Wyatt
“ Don't remember too much about this movie, but I remember it being highly watchable at least. ” - trackmarked
 
26.
Felon (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A family man convicted of killing an intruder must cope with life afterward in the violent penal system. (104 mins.)
Director: Ric Roman Waugh
“ A movie that disappointed me. Even if I don't know how prisons work in USA I thought it all felt a little exaggerated and annoying. And I really hope I'm right. ” - trackmarked
 
27.
Bronson (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A young man who was sentenced to seven years in prison for robbing a post office ends up spending three decades in solitary confinement. During this time, his own personality is supplanted by his alter-ego, Charles Bronson. (92 mins.)
 
28.
A Song of Love (1950 Short Film)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Two prisoners in complete isolation, separated by the thick brick walls, and desperately in need of human contact, devise a most unusual kind of communication. (26 mins.)
Director: Jean Genet
 
29.
Bad Girls (1999 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
Drama about the staff and inmates of a women's prison. (90 mins.)
“ A TV-series about a british women prison. I've seen a couple of episodes and it's okay, nothing extraordinary. ” - trackmarked
 
30.
American History X (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
A former neo-nazi skinhead tries to prevent his younger brother from going down the same wrong path that he did. (119 mins.)
Director: Tony Kaye
“ Don't remember much of this movie and had almost forgotten about the prison part of it.

Will have to rewatch soon. ” - trackmarked
 
31.
Ariel (1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A Finnish man goes to the city to find a job after the mine where he worked is closed and his father commits suicide. (73 mins.)
Director: Aki Kaurismäki
“ Not much time spent in prison but still, the plot and movie is affected by it. Really great movie with very dry humour. ” - trackmarked
 
32.
3-Iron (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A transient young man breaks into empty homes to partake of the vacationing residents' lives for a few days. (88 mins.)
Director: Ki-duk Kim
“ A part of it spent in a prison, but it's not the main focus of the movie. ” - trackmarked
 
33.
Frozen City (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
Abandoned by his wife,the taxi driver (Janne Virtanen)VeliMatti, a man who has lost his family is convicted of murder, an act of violence which, hopelessly drunk at the time, he can not remember committing. (92 mins.)
Director: Aku Louhimies
 
34.
Law Abiding Citizen (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A frustrated man decides to take justice into his own hands after a plea bargain sets one of his family's killers free. He targets not only the killer but also the district attorney and others involved in the deal. (109 mins.)
Director: F. Gary Gray
“ An okay revenge movie, but it's not a real prison movie for me. ” - trackmarked
 
35.
La Grande Illusion (1937)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
During the First World War, two French soldiers are captured and imprisoned in a German P.O.W. camp. Several escape attempts follow until they are sent to a seemingly impenetrable fortress which seems impossible to escape from. (113 mins.)
Director: Jean Renoir
“ A real classic but one I didn't find as good as I expected. It never really managed to get my full attention. That's a matter of taste though and I recommend you check it out yourself to see if you like it or not. ” - trackmarked
 
36.
Maléfique (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
In a penitentiary, four prisoners occupy a cell: Carrère, who used his company to commit a fraud and... (90 mins.)
Director: Eric Valette
“ Didn't like this too much, was a little disgusted by it to be honest. It's a well made movie though, but not for everybody. ” - trackmarked