Top 40 Prison Movies

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1. 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: 2,192,769 | Gross: $28.34M

2. Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

R | 91 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

89 Metascore

An unlikely partnership between a Highway Patrol Officer, two criminals and a station secretary is formed to defend a defunct Los Angeles precinct office against a siege by a bloodthirsty street gang.

Director: John Carpenter | Stars: Austin Stoker, Darwin Joston, Laurie Zimmer, Martin West

Votes: 41,058

3. Cool Hand Luke (1967)

GP | 127 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: 153,907 | Gross: $16.22M

4. Hunger (2008)

Not Rated | 96 min | Biography, Drama

82 Metascore

Irish republican Bobby Sands leads the inmates of a Northern Irish prison in a hunger strike.

Director: Steve McQueen | Stars: Stuart Graham, Laine Megaw, Brian Milligan, Liam McMahon

Votes: 62,907 | Gross: $0.15M

5. Blood In, Blood Out (1993)

R | 180 min | Crime, Drama

47 Metascore

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.

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

Votes: 27,472 | Gross: $4.50M

6. 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: 1,069,766 | Gross: $136.80M

7. 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: 109,342 | Gross: $43.00M

8. The Experiment (2010)

R | 96 min | Drama, Thriller

26 men are chosen to participate in the roles of guards and prisoners in a psychological study that ultimately spirals out of control.

Director: Paul Scheuring | Stars: Adrien Brody, Cam Gigandet, Forest Whitaker, Maggie Grace

Votes: 49,687

9. 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: 116,274 | Gross: $53.27M

10. 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: 88,549 | Gross: $0.14M

11. Cell 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: 61,165

12. Death Race (2008)

R | 105 min | Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller

43 Metascore

Ex-con Jensen Ames is forced by the warden of a notorious prison to compete in our post-industrial world's most popular sport: a car race in which inmates must brutalize and kill one another on the road to victory.

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson | Stars: Jason Statham, Joan Allen, Tyrese Gibson, Ian McShane

Votes: 191,892 | Gross: $36.32M

13. Bronson (2008)

R | 92 min | Action, Biography, Crime

71 Metascore

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.

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn | Stars: Tom Hardy, Kelly Adams, Luing Andrews, Katy Barker

Votes: 114,061 | Gross: $0.10M

14. La Grande Illusion (1937)

Not Rated | 113 min | Drama, War

During WWI, two French soldiers are captured and imprisoned in a German P.O.W. camp. Several escape attempts follow until they are eventually sent to a seemingly inescapable fortress.

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

Votes: 32,080 | Gross: $0.17M

15. 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: 10,996

16. 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: 13,810 | Gross: $0.03M

17. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

PG | 161 min | Adventure, Drama, War

87 Metascore

British POWs build a railway bridge across the river Kwai for their Japanese captors, oblivious of the Allies' plans to destroy it.

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

Votes: 192,706 | Gross: $44.91M

18. 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: 212,556 | Gross: $12.10M

19. In the Name of the Father (1993)

R | 133 min | Biography, Drama

84 Metascore

A man's coerced confession to an I.R.A. 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: 147,039 | Gross: $25.01M

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

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

69 Metascore

In the deep south during the 1930s, three escaped convicts search for hidden treasure while a relentless lawman pursues them.

Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen | Stars: George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson, John Goodman

Votes: 272,258 | Gross: $45.51M

21. The Hill (1965)

Approved | 123 min | Drama, War

81 Metascore

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: 11,407

22. Lady Vengeance (2005)

R | 115 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

75 Metascore

After being wrongfully imprisoned for thirteen years and having her child taken away from her, a woman seeks revenge through increasingly brutal means.

Director: Chan-wook Park | Stars: Yeong-ae Lee, Min-sik Choi, Shi-hoo Kim, Yea-young Kwon

Votes: 67,195 | Gross: $0.21M

23. Chicago (2002)

PG-13 | 113 min | Comedy, Crime, Musical

82 Metascore

Two death-row murderesses develop a fierce rivalry while competing for publicity, celebrity, and a sleazy lawyer's attention.

Director: Rob Marshall | Stars: Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, Taye Diggs

Votes: 207,312 | Gross: $170.69M

24. Stalag 17 (1953)

Not Rated | 120 min | Comedy, Drama, War

84 Metascore

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: 49,217

25. 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: 68,740 | Gross: $35.00M

26. 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: 89,903 | Gross: $2.08M

27. Dead Man Walking (1995)

R | 122 min | Crime, Drama

80 Metascore

A nun, while comforting a convicted killer on death row, empathizes with both the killer and his victim's families.

Director: Tim Robbins | Stars: Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn, Robert Prosky, Raymond J. Barry

Votes: 84,996 | Gross: $39.39M

28. 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: 13,169 | Gross: $9.20M

29. Cool Hand Luke (1967)

GP | 127 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: 153,907 | Gross: $16.22M

30. Down by Law (1986)

R | 107 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

75 Metascore

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.

Director: Jim Jarmusch | Stars: Tom Waits, John Lurie, Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi

Votes: 45,106 | Gross: $1.44M

31. Birdman of Alcatraz (1962)

Not Rated | 147 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

76 Metascore

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: 15,065

32. 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: 3,272

33. The Defiant Ones (1958)

Approved | 96 min | Crime, Drama

69 Metascore

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: 12,582

34. 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: 8,269

35. Runaway Train (1985)

R | 111 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

67 Metascore

Two escaped convicts and a female railway worker find themselves trapped on a train with no brakes and nobody driving.

Director: Andrey Konchalovskiy | Stars: Jon Voight, Eric Roberts, Rebecca De Mornay, Kyle T. Heffner

Votes: 25,213 | Gross: $7.94M

36. Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017)

Not Rated | 132 min | Action, Crime, Drama

79 Metascore

A former boxer-turned-drug runner lands in a prison battleground after a deal gets deadly.

Director: S. Craig Zahler | Stars: Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Carpenter, Don Johnson, Udo Kier

Votes: 52,440

37. Brubaker (1980)

R | 131 min | Crime, Drama

54 Metascore

The new warden of a small prison farm in Arkansas tries to clean it up of corruption after initially posing as an inmate.

Director: Stuart Rosenberg | Stars: Robert Redford, Yaphet Kotto, Morgan Freeman, Jane Alexander

Votes: 15,042 | Gross: $37.12M

38. R (2010)

Unrated | 99 min | Crime, Drama

67 Metascore

The R of the title stands for the young protagonist, Rune, fearlessly played by Pilou Asbæk. Imprisoned for violent assault, he's a cocky, good-looking young man placed in the hardcore ward... See full summary »

Directors: Tobias Lindholm, Michael Noer | Stars: Pilou Asbæk, Dulfi Al-Jabouri, Roland Møller, Jacob Gredsted

Votes: 4,314

39. Army of Shadows (1969)

Not Rated | 145 min | Drama, War

99 Metascore

An account of underground resistance fighters in Nazi-occupied France.

Director: Jean-Pierre Melville | Stars: Lino Ventura, Paul Meurisse, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Simone Signoret

Votes: 18,837 | Gross: $0.74M

40. Sleepers (1996)

R | 147 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

49 Metascore

After a prank goes disastrously wrong, a group of boys are sent to a detention center where they are brutalized. Thirteen years later, an unexpected random encounter with a former guard gives them a chance for revenge.

Director: Barry Levinson | Stars: Robert De Niro, Kevin Bacon, Brad Pitt, Jason Patric

Votes: 179,850 | Gross: $49.10M



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