The Best Prison/Escape Movies

by McShovin | created - 26 May 2012 | updated - 29 Nov 2015 | Public

Also including PoW-camp, concentration camp etc. movies. Movies are listed from best to worst.

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1. I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)

Passed | 92 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

Wrongly convicted James Allen serves in the intolerable conditions of a southern chain gang, which later comes back to haunt him.

Director: Mervyn LeRoy | Stars: Paul Muni, Glenda Farrell, Helen Vinson, Noel Francis

Votes: 10,302

10/10

2. In the Name of the Father (1993)

R | 133 min | Biography, Drama

84 Metascore

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.

Director: Jim Sheridan | Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Pete Postlethwaite, Alison Crosbie, Philip King

Votes: 138,310 | Gross: $25.01M

10/10

3. Brute Force (1947)

Passed | 98 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

At a tough penitentiary, prisoner Joe Collins plans to rebel against Captain Munsey, the power-mad chief guard.

Director: Jules Dassin | Stars: Burt Lancaster, Hume Cronyn, Charles Bickford, Yvonne De Carlo

Votes: 7,716

9,5/10

4. Life Is Beautiful (1997)

PG-13 | 116 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

59 Metascore

When an open-minded Jewish librarian and his son become victims of the Holocaust, he uses a perfect mixture of will, humor, and imagination to protect his son from the dangers around their camp.

Director: Roberto Benigni | Stars: Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi, Giorgio Cantarini, Giustino Durano

Votes: 535,922 | Gross: $57.60M

9,5/10

5. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

R | 142 min | Drama

80 Metascore

Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.

Director: Frank Darabont | Stars: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler

Votes: 2,042,380 | Gross: $28.34M

9/10

6. 7-beon-bang-ui seon-mul (2013)

127 min | Comedy, Drama

A story about love between a mentally-ill father and his lovingly adorable daughter. Accused of murder and rape, her father's home is prison.

Director: Hwan-kyung Lee | Stars: Seung-ryong Ryu, So Won Kal, Dal-su Oh, Man-sik Jeong

Votes: 10,647

9/10

7. Cool Hand Luke (1967)

GP | 126 min | Crime, Drama

91 Metascore

A laid back Southern man is sentenced to two years in a rural prison, but refuses to conform.

Director: Stuart Rosenberg | Stars: Paul Newman, George Kennedy, Strother Martin, J.D. Cannon

Votes: 145,097

8,5/10

8. Pour elle (2008)

96 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

With no legal means left to him, a high school teacher devises a daring plan to rescue his wrongfully imprisoned wife from jail.

Director: Fred Cavayé | Stars: Vincent Lindon, Diane Kruger, Lancelot Roch, Olivier Marchal

Votes: 8,028

8,5/10

9. Manic (2001)

R | 100 min | Drama

60 Metascore

Lyle Jensen is subject to sudden and violent outbursts, and he is committed to the juvenile wing of the Northwood Mental Institution. Several other youths are there with a variety of ... See full summary »

Director: Jordan Melamed | Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Bacall, Zooey Deschanel, Don Cheadle

Votes: 8,859 | Gross: $0.07M

8/10

10. Midnight Express (1978)

R | 121 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

59 Metascore

Billy Hayes, an American college student, is caught smuggling drugs out of Turkey and thrown into prison.

Director: Alan Parker | Stars: Brad Davis, Irene Miracle, Bo Hopkins, Paolo Bonacelli

Votes: 64,031 | Gross: $35.00M

8/10

11. Birdman of Alcatraz (1962)

Not Rated | 147 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

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

Directors: John Frankenheimer, Charles Crichton | Stars: Burt Lancaster, Karl Malden, Thelma Ritter, Neville Brand

Votes: 14,247

8/10

12. Escape from Sobibor (1987 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 143 min | Drama, History, War

During WWII, the death camp at Treblinka had an escape, causing the Commandant at a similar camp in Sobibor to vow that his camp would never experience the same thing. But those who were ... See full summary »

Director: Jack Gold | Stars: Alan Arkin, Joanna Pacula, Rutger Hauer, Hartmut Becker

Votes: 7,205

8/10

13. Empire of the Sun (1987)

PG | 153 min | Drama, History, War

62 Metascore

A young English boy struggles to survive under Japanese occupation during World War II.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Christian Bale, John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson, Nigel Havers

Votes: 103,845 | Gross: $22.24M

8/10

14. Blood In, Blood Out (1993)

R | 180 min | Crime, Drama

Based on the true life experiences of poet Jimmy Santiago Baca, the film focuses on step-brothers Paco and Cruz, and their bi-racial cousin Miklo. It opens in 1972, as the three are members... See full summary »

Director: Taylor Hackford | Stars: Damian Chapa, Jesse Borrego, Benjamin Bratt, Enrique Castillo

Votes: 26,243 | Gross: $4.50M

8/10

15. Von Ryan's Express (1965)

Approved | 117 min | Action, Adventure, War

An American POW leads a group of mainly British prisoners to escape from the Germans in WWII.

Director: Mark Robson | Stars: Frank Sinatra, Trevor Howard, Raffaella Carrà, Brad Dexter

Votes: 11,563 | Gross: $17.11M

8/10

16. The Great Escape (1963)

Not Rated | 172 min | Adventure, Drama, History

87 Metascore

Allied prisoners of war plan for several hundred of their number to escape from a German camp during World War II.

Director: John Sturges | Stars: Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson

Votes: 201,091 | Gross: $12.10M

7,5/10

17. A Man Escaped (1956)

Not Rated | 101 min | Drama

A captured French Resistance fighter during WWII engineers a daunting escape from a Nazi prison in France.

Director: Robert Bresson | Stars: François Leterrier, Charles Le Clainche, Maurice Beerblock, Roland Monod

Votes: 15,523

7,5/10

18. Papillon (1973)

R | 151 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

58 Metascore

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.

Director: Franklin J. Schaffner | Stars: Steve McQueen, Dustin Hoffman, Victor Jory, Don Gordon

Votes: 110,612 | Gross: $53.27M

7,5/10

19. Le Trou (1960)

Not Rated | 131 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

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.

Director: Jacques Becker | Stars: André Bervil, Jean Keraudy, Michel Constantin, Philippe Leroy

Votes: 12,369 | Gross: $0.03M

7,5/10

20. Starred Up (2013)

Not Rated | 106 min | Crime, Drama

81 Metascore

Eric Love is a 19 year old teenager who is so violent he has been 'Starred Up' (Moved to Adult prison) where he finds his father Neville who Eric hasn't seen since he was 5 (since he was ... See full summary »

Director: David Mackenzie | Stars: Jack O'Connell, Ben Mendelsohn, Rupert Friend, Sam Spruell

Votes: 38,677 | Gross: $0.03M

7,5/10

21. Felon (2008)

R | 104 min | Crime, Drama

58 Metascore

A family man convicted of killing an intruder must cope with life afterward in the violent penal system.

Director: Ric Roman Waugh | Stars: Stephen Dorff, Marisol Nichols, Vincent Miller, Anne Archer

Votes: 71,642 | Gross: $0.04M

7,5/10

22. The Defiant Ones (1958)

Approved | 96 min | Crime, Drama

Two escaped convicts chained together, white and black, must learn to get along in order to elude capture.

Director: Stanley Kramer | Stars: Tony Curtis, Sidney Poitier, Theodore Bikel, Charles McGraw

Votes: 11,455

7,5/10

23. The United States of Leland (2003)

R | 108 min | Drama

37 Metascore

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.

Director: Matthew Ryan Hoge | Stars: Ryan Gosling, Don Cheadle, Kevin Spacey, Chris Klein

Votes: 21,674 | Gross: $0.34M

7,5/10

24. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

PG | 161 min | Adventure, Drama, War

87 Metascore

After settling his differences with a Japanese P.O.W. camp commander, a British Colonel co-operates to oversee his men's construction of a railway bridge for their captors, while oblivious to a plan by the Allies to destroy it.

Director: David Lean | Stars: William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, Sessue Hayakawa

Votes: 182,654 | Gross: $44.91M

7,5/10

25. A Pure Formality (1994)

PG-13 | 108 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

Onoff is a famous writer who hasn't published any new books for quite some time and has become a recluse. When he is picked up by the police one stormy night, without any identification, ... See full summary »

Director: Giuseppe Tornatore | Stars: Gérard Depardieu, Roman Polanski, Sergio Rubini, Nicola Di Pinto

Votes: 8,612 | Gross: $0.20M

7/10

26. Bad Boys (1983)

R | 123 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

53 Metascore

Chicago crime kid Mick O'Brien is sent to reform school after accidentally killing a rival's kid brother.

Director: Rick Rosenthal | Stars: Sean Penn, Reni Santoni, Jim Moody, Eric Gurry

Votes: 12,445 | Gross: $9.20M

7/10

27. The Experiment (2001)

R | 120 min | Drama, Thriller

60 Metascore

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.

Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel | Stars: Moritz Bleibtreu, Christian Berkel, Oliver Stokowski, Wotan Wilke Möhring

Votes: 86,305 | Gross: $0.14M

7/10

28. The Hill (1965)

Approved | 123 min | Drama, War

In a North African military prison during World War II, five new prisoners struggle to survive in the face of brutal punishment and sadistic guards.

Director: Sidney Lumet | Stars: Sean Connery, Harry Andrews, Ian Bannen, Alfred Lynch

Votes: 10,856

7/10

29. Stalag 17 (1953)

Not Rated | 120 min | Comedy, Drama, War

When two escaping American World War II prisoners are killed, the German P.O.W. camp barracks black marketeer, J.J. Sefton, is suspected of being an informer.

Director: Billy Wilder | Stars: William Holden, Don Taylor, Otto Preminger, Robert Strauss

Votes: 47,414

7/10

30. The Next Three Days (2010)

PG-13 | 133 min | Action, Crime, Drama

52 Metascore

A married couple's life is turned upside down when the wife is accused of a murder.

Director: Paul Haggis | Stars: Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson, Michael Buie

Votes: 164,711 | Gross: $21.15M

7/10, remake of "Anything for Her"

31. There Was a Crooked Man... (1970)

R | 126 min | Western

A charming but totally ruthless criminal is sent to a remote Arizona prison. He enlists the help of his cellmates in an escape attempt with the promise of sharing his hidden loot.

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz | Stars: Kirk Douglas, Henry Fonda, Hume Cronyn, Warren Oates

Votes: 3,414

7/10

32. A Prophet (2009)

R | 155 min | Crime, Drama

90 Metascore

A young Arab man is sent to a French prison.

Director: Jacques Audiard | Stars: Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup, Adel Bencherif, Reda Kateb

Votes: 87,136 | Gross: $2.08M

7/10

33. The Green Mile (1999)

R | 189 min | Crime, Drama, Fantasy

61 Metascore

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.

Director: Frank Darabont | Stars: Tom Hanks, Michael Clarke Duncan, David Morse, Bonnie Hunt

Votes: 982,230 | Gross: $136.80M

7/10

34. Celda 211 (2009)

113 min | Action, Crime, Drama

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.

Director: Daniel Monzón | Stars: Luis Tosar, Alberto Ammann, Antonio Resines, Manuel Morón

Votes: 58,522

7/10

35. Mesrine Part 1: Killer Instinct (2008)

R | 113 min | Action, Biography, Crime

71 Metascore

The story of french gangster Jacques Mesrine, before he was called Public Enemy N°1.

Director: Jean-François Richet | Stars: Vincent Cassel, Cécile de France, Gérard Depardieu, Gilles Lellouche

Votes: 29,730 | Gross: $0.55M

7/10 including the second part of the story

36. Murder in the First (1995)

R | 122 min | Drama, Thriller

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.

Director: Marc Rocco | Stars: Christian Slater, Kevin Bacon, Gary Oldman, Embeth Davidtz

Votes: 24,358 | Gross: $17.38M

7/10

37. Przesluchanie (1989)

118 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

Tonia goes out drinking. She wakes up in prison, not having a clue why she's there. She is tortured to encourage her to confess to a crime she is not aware of.

Director: Ryszard Bugajski | Stars: Krystyna Janda, Adam Ferency, Janusz Gajos, Agnieszka Holland

Votes: 2,611

7/10

38. Caged (1950)

Not Rated | 96 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

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.

Director: John Cromwell | Stars: Eleanor Parker, Agnes Moorehead, Ellen Corby, Hope Emerson

Votes: 3,063

7/10

39. Get the Gringo (2012)

R | 96 min | Action, Crime, Drama

60 Metascore

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.

Director: Adrian Grunberg | Stars: Mel Gibson, Kevin Balmore, Daniel Giménez Cacho, Jesús Ochoa

Votes: 96,835

7/10

40. Against the Wall (1994 TV Movie)

R | 111 min | Action, Drama, History

Based on the true story of the Attica Prison uprising of 1971.

Director: John Frankenheimer | Stars: Kyle MacLachlan, Samuel L. Jackson, Clarence Williams III, Frederic Forrest

Votes: 2,051

7/10

41. The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962)

Not Rated | 104 min | Drama, Sport

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.

Director: Tony Richardson | Stars: Michael Redgrave, Tom Courtenay, Avis Bunnage, Alec McCowen

Votes: 6,894

7/10

42. The Longest Yard (1974)

R | 121 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

61 Metascore

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.

Director: Robert Aldrich | Stars: Burt Reynolds, Eddie Albert, Ed Lauter, Michael Conrad

Votes: 15,264

7/10

43. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2008)

PG-13 | 94 min | Drama, War

55 Metascore

Set during WWII, a story seen through the innocent eyes of Bruno, the eight-year-old son of the commandant at a German concentration camp, whose forbidden friendship with a Jewish boy on the other side of the camp fence has startling and unexpected consequences.

Director: Mark Herman | Stars: Asa Butterfield, David Thewlis, Rupert Friend, Zac Mattoon O'Brien

Votes: 164,962 | Gross: $9.03M

7/10

44. Unbroken (I) (2014)

PG-13 | 137 min | Biography, Drama, Sport

59 Metascore

After a near-fatal plane crash in WWII, Olympian Louis Zamperini spends a harrowing 47 days in a raft with two fellow crewmen before he's caught by the Japanese navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp.

Director: Angelina Jolie | Stars: Jack O'Connell, Miyavi, Domhnall Gleeson, Garrett Hedlund

Votes: 127,594 | Gross: $115.64M

7/10

45. La Grande Illusion (1937)

Not Rated | 113 min | Drama, War

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.

Director: Jean Renoir | Stars: Jean Gabin, Dita Parlo, Pierre Fresnay, Erich von Stroheim

Votes: 30,571 | Gross: $0.17M

6,5/10

46. Escape from Alcatraz (1979)

PG | 112 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

76 Metascore

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.

Director: Don Siegel | Stars: Clint Eastwood, Patrick McGoohan, Roberts Blossom, Jack Thibeau

Votes: 102,419 | Gross: $43.00M

6,5/10

47. Lonely Are the Brave (1962)

Approved | 107 min | Drama, Western

A fiercely independent cowboy gets himself locked up in prison to escape with an old friend.

Director: David Miller | Stars: Kirk Douglas, Gena Rowlands, Walter Matthau, Michael Kane

Votes: 7,005

6,5/10

48. Carandiru (2003)

R | 145 min | Drama, Crime

71 Metascore

Brazilian MD Drauzio Varella starts AIDS prevention in Brazil's largest prison, Carandiru, in São Paulo, where the population is nearly double its 4,000 maximum. Doc learns from experience ... See full summary »

Director: Hector Babenco | Stars: Enrique Diaz, Wagner Moura, Caio Blat, Luiz Carlos Vasconcelos

Votes: 16,101 | Gross: $0.21M

6,5/10

49. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

PG-13 | 107 min | Adventure, Comedy, Crime

7.8