Prison Films:The Ultimate List

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1.
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
 
2.
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
 
3.
Oz (1997 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  
A series chronicling the daily activities of an unusual prison facility and its criminal inhabitants. (55 mins.)
Director: Gregory Dark
 
4.
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.)
 
5.
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.)
 
6.
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.)
 
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
 
8.
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
 
9.
Brute Force (1947)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
At a tough penitentiary, prisoner Joe Collins plans to rebel against Captain Munsey, the power-mad chief guard. (98 mins.)
Director: Jules Dassin
 
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.)
 
11.
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
 
12.
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
 
13.
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
 
14.
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
 
15.
Wentworth (2013 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  
Bea Smith is locked up while awaiting trial for the attempted murder of her husband and must learn how life works in prison. (45 mins.)
 
16.
Starred Up (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Eric Love is a 19 year old teenager who is so violent he has been 'Starred Up' (Moved to Adult prison)... (106 mins.)
Director: David Mackenzie
 
17.
Short Eyes (1977)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A child molester sent to prison finds that criminals exact harsher justice than society. (100 mins.)
Director: Robert M. Young
 
18.
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
 
19.
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
 
20.
Caged (1950)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A naive nineteen year old widow becomes coarsened and cynical when she is sent to a woman's prison and is exposed to hardened criminals and sadistic guards. (96 mins.)
Director: John Cromwell
 
21.
Each Dawn I Die (1939)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A corrupt D.A. with governatorial ambitions is annoyed by an investigative reporter's criticism of his criminal activities and decides to frame the reporter for manslaughter in order to silence him. (92 mins.)
 
22.
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
 
23.
Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A gay man and a political prisoner are together in a prison. The gay man narrates the stories of two fake movies and his own life. (120 mins.)
Director: Hector Babenco
 
24.
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
 
25.
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.)
 
26.
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.)
 
27.
Bad Boys (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Chicago crime kid Mick O'Brien is sent to reform school after accidentally killing a rival's kid brother. (123 mins.)
Director: Rick Rosenthal
 
28.
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
 
29.
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
 
30.
Seven Beauties (1975)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
The defense of honor, a strong value in Neapolitan society, and his effects on the life of everyman Pasquale Frafuso. (115 mins.)
 
31.
Dead Man Walking (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A nun, while comforting a convicted killer on death row, empathizes with both the killer and his victim's families. (122 mins.)
Director: Tim Robbins
 
32.
Animal Factory (2000)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
A young man goes to prison and a tough, older convict takes him under his wing as a mentor. (94 mins.)
Director: Steve Buscemi
 
33.
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A juvenile offender at a tough reform school impresses its governor with his running ability and is encouraged to compete in an upcoming race, but faces ridicule from his peers. (104 mins.)
Director: Tony Richardson
 
34.
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
 
35.
Get the Gringo (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
A career criminal nabbed by Mexican authorities is placed in a tough prison where he learns to survive with the help of a young boy. (96 mins.)
 
36.
Chopper (2000)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Chopper tells the intense story of Mark "Chopper" Read, a legendary criminal who wrote his autobiography while serving a jail sentence in prison. His book, "From the Inside", upon which the film is based, was a best-seller. (94 mins.)
Director: Andrew Dominik
 
37.
The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A young man, falsely imprisoned by his jealous "friend," escapes and uses a hidden treasure to exact his revenge. (131 mins.)
Director: Kevin Reynolds
 
38.
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
 
39.
Sleepers (1996)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
After a prank goes disastrously wrong, a group of boys are sent to a detention center where they are brutalized; over 10 years later, they get their chance for revenge. (147 mins.)
Director: Barry Levinson
 
40.
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.)
 
41.
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
 
42.
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
 
43.
Mesrine Part 1: Killer Instinct (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
The story of french gangster Jacques Mesrine, before he was called Public Enemy N°1. (113 mins.)
 
44.
Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
During WWII, a British colonel tries to bridge the cultural divides between a British POW and the Japanese camp commander in order to avoid bloodshed. (123 mins.)
Director: Nagisa Ôshima
 
45.
Rescue Dawn (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A U.S. fighter pilot's epic struggle of survival after being shot down on a mission over Laos during the Vietnam War. (120 mins.)
Director: Werner Herzog
 
46.
Prison on Fire (1987)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Inside a Chinese prison two inmates form a friendship and face the difficulty of life on the inside. (98 mins.)
Director: Ringo Lam
 
47.
I Love You Phillip Morris (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
A cop turns con man once he comes out of the closet. Once imprisoned, he meets the second love of his life, whom he'll stop at nothing to be with. (98 mins.)
 
48.
Scum (1979)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
An uncompromising story of life in a British juvenile offender institution in the 70's. (98 mins.)
Director: Alan Clarke
 
49.
The Jericho Mile (1979 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Larry "Rain" Murphy is stuck in Folsom Prison for life on a first-degree murder charge. An inmate who prefers to be alone... (97 mins.)
Director: Michael Mann
 
50.
I Want to Live! (1958)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A prostitute, sentenced to death for murder, pleads her innocence. (120 mins.)
Director: Robert Wise
 
51.
Murder in the First (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
An eager and idealistic young attorney defends an Alcatraz prisoner accused of murdering a fellow inmate. The extenuating circumstances: his client had just spent over three years in solitary confinement. (122 mins.)
Director: Marc Rocco
 
52.
Sons of Anarchy (2008 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
A man in his early 30s struggles to find a balance in his life between being a new dad and his involvement in a motorcycle club. (45 mins.)
“ Definetely not a prison tv series like Oz or Prison Break but couple of episodes were set in prison and the prison system was brilliantly portrayed. ” - tomicagb
 
53.
Gomorrah (2014 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  
Ciro disregards tradition in his attempt to become the next boss of his crime syndicate. The internal power struggle puts him and his entire family's life at risk. (55 mins.)
 
54.
Justified (2010 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  
Old-school U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens is reassigned from Miami to his childhood home in the poor, rural coal-mining towns in Eastern Kentucky. (44 mins.)
 
55.
Instinct (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
When a noted anthropologist who left society to live in the jungle is imprisoned for murder, it's up to a young psychiatrist to get through to him. (126 mins.)
Director: Jon Turteltaub
 
56.
Female Prisoner Scorpion: Jailhouse 41 (1972)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
After spending a year in solitary confinement, Matsu escapes from prison with six more convicts, followed by the guards led by the vengeful warden who wants her dead at all costs. (90 mins.)
Director: Shun'ya Itô
 
57.
Lock Up (1989)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
With only six months left of his sentence, inmate Frank Leone is transferred from a minimum security prison to a maximum security prison by a vindictive warden. (109 mins.)
Director: John Flynn
 
58.
Chronicle of an Escape (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
The goalkeeper of a little-known soccer team is kidnapped by a Argentinean government squad and sent to a detention center. After months of torture, he plots his escape with three other young men. (103 mins.)
 
59.
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
 
60.
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
 
61.
Carandiru (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Brazilian MD Drauzio Varella starts AIDS prevention in Brazil's largest prison, Carandiru, in São Paulo... (145 mins.)
Director: Hector Babenco
 
62.
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
 
63.
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
 
64.
On the Yard (1978)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  
In prison, one prisoner buys some smokes from another. Then he admits he can't pay for it and becomes indebted to him and the interest is rising daily. (102 mins.)
 
65.
The Last Castle (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
A court-martialed General rallies together twelve hundred inmates to rise against the corrupt system that put him away. (131 mins.)
Director: Rod Lurie
 
66.
The Criminal Code (1931)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
After a failed attempt at running for governor, D.A. Mark Brady is appointed warden of the state prison where many of the criminals he prosecuted are incarcerated. (97 mins.)
 
67.
Out of Sight (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
A career bank robber breaks out of jail, and shares a moment of mutual attraction with a U.S. Marshal he has kidnapped. (123 mins.)
 
68.
Lockout (2012)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
A man wrongly convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage against the U.S. is offered his freedom if he can rescue the president's daughter from an outer space prison taken over by violent inmates. (95 mins.)
 
69.
Face/Off (1997)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
In order to foil an extortion plot, an FBI agent undergoes a facial transplant surgery and assumes the identity and physical appearance of a terrorist, but the plan turns from bad to worse when the same terrorist impersonates the FBI agent. (138 mins.)
Director: John Woo
 
70.
Lion's Den (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
An incarcerated woman struggles to raise her son from prison. (113 mins.)
Director: Pablo Trapero
 
71.
The Longest Yard (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
Prison inmates form a football team to challenge the prison guards. (113 mins.)
Director: Peter Segal
 
72.
The Longest Yard (1974)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A sadistic warden asks a former pro quarterback, now serving time in his prison, to put together a team of inmates to take on (and get pummeled by) the guards. (121 mins.)
Director: Robert Aldrich
 
73.
The Glass House (1972 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A young guard and a college professor convicted of manslaughter both start their first day in prison. (90 mins.)
Director: Tom Gries
 
74.
Escape Plan (2013)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
When a structural-security authority finds himself set up and incarcerated in the world's most secret and secure prison, he has to use his skills to escape with help from the inside. (115 mins.)
 
75.
Riot (1969)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
A riot in a state prison is staged to cover up an escape attempt, during which many inmates and guards are killed. Shot on location at Arizona State Prison. (96 mins.)
Director: Buzz Kulik
 
76.
In Hell (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
A man must survive a prison where hardened criminals battle to the death for the wardens' entertainment. (98 mins.)
Director: Ringo Lam
 
77.
Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion (1972)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
After being used and betrayed by the detective she had fallen in love with, young Matsu is sent to a female prison full of sadistic guards and disobedient prisoners. (87 mins.)
Director: Shun'ya Itô
 
78.
Big Bang Love, Juvenile A (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A visually stylish tale of two male prisoners bonded by emotion, love and murder. (85 mins.)
Director: Takashi Miike
 
79.
Stir (1980)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
Filmed in the Clare Valley, Gladstone and the Flinders Ranges in South Australia, this prison movie was inspired by the true life prison riot at Bathurst Jail in 1974 and its subsequent Royal Commission into New South Wales Prisons. (101 mins.)
Director: Stephen Wallace
 
80.
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
 
81.
Ghosted (2011)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  
'GHOSTED' tells a story of survival inside a British Prison. Jack a model prisoner, has kept his head down and done his time... (102 mins.)
Director: Craig Viveiros
 
82.
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
 
83.
The United States of Leland (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A young man's experience in a juvenile detention center that touches on the tumultuous changes that befall his family and the community in which he lives. (108 mins.)
 
84.
An Innocent Man (1989)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
Jimmie Rainwood was minding his own business when two corrupt police officers (getting an address wrong) burst into his house... (113 mins.)
Director: Peter Yates
 
85.
Fast-Walking (1982)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
A corrupt prison guard becomes involved in a plot to murder a black revolutionary serving time in his prison. (115 mins.)
Director: James B. Harris
 
86.
Invisible Stripes (1939)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
An ex-con who wants to go straight has difficulties trying to reintegrate into society while on parole. (81 mins.)
Director: Lloyd Bacon
 
87.
The Big House (1930)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A convict falls in love with his new cellmate's sister, only to become embroiled in a planned break-out which is certain to have lethal consequences. (87 mins.)
Director: George Hill
 
88.
Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky (1991)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A young man with superhuman strength is incarcerated at a prison run by corrupt officials and seeks to use his martial arts to clean up the system. (91 mins.)
Director: Simon Nam
 
89.
Ghosts... of the Civil Dead (1988)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Prison gangs clash in a high-tech security jail where there are no rules. (93 mins.)
Director: John Hillcoat
 
90.
Messiah: The Promise (2004 Mini-Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
As a prison riot erupts into violence, Red comes face to face with the ring leader: the man who once held him hostage and nearly drove him mad. But what they don't know is a killer's amongst them, preying on their weaknesses. (180 mins.)
Director: David Drury