Prison Dramas I've Reviewed

by classicsoncall | created - 01 Aug 2012 | updated - 9 months ago | Public

I thought this would be an interesting category. Here's a list of prison movies I've watched and reviewed on the IMDb. It's presented in IMDb ranking order.

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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: 2,212,241 | Gross: $28.34M

"I'm a convicted murderer who provides sound financial planning."

2. 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: 1,079,601 | Gross: $136.80M

"I couldn't help it boss, I tried to take it back but it was too late."

3. 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: 214,042 | Gross: $12.10M

"Give up your hopeless attempt to escape."

4. 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: 154,844 | Gross: $16.22M

"Yeah, well, sometimes nothing means a real cool hand."

5. 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: 11,075

"I'll be a model prisoner if it kills me."

6. 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: 116,925 | Gross: $53.27M

"Forget France, and put your clothes on."

7. 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: 45,578 | Gross: $1.44M

"Yeah, it's a sad and beautiful world, pal."

8. 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: 15,218

"I guess you're a lifer pal, just like me."

9. 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: 3,310

"Pile out you tramps! It's the end of the line!"

10. 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: 12,714

"Looks like you two boys are in for trouble."

11. 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: 8,343

"What's OK? Nothing's OK. It never was and it never will be."

12. 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: 69,376 | Gross: $35.00M

"The bad machine doesn't know he's a bad machine."

13. Escape from Sobibor (1987 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 143 min | Drama, History, War

German death camp in Sobibor, Poland, killed two hundred fifty thousand Jews. It had the most successful prisoner escape in World War II on October 14, 1943.

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

Votes: 7,916

But what is there to do but survive?

14. 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: 41,375

Anybody got a smoke?

15. 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: 25,361 | Gross: $7.94M

"Boy, this is gonna be somethin'...

16. Each Dawn I Die (1939)

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

A corrupt D.A. with political ambitions is angered by news stories implicating him in criminal activity and decides to frame the reporter who wrote them for manslaughter in order to silence him.

Director: William Keighley | Stars: James Cagney, George Raft, Jane Bryan, George Bancroft

Votes: 2,659

Learnin' kind of fast, ain't ya mug?

17. The X-Files (1993–2018)
Episode: The List (1995)

TV-14 | 45 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

Enemies of a prison inmate who was executed in the electric chair begin dying one by one.

Director: Chris Carter | Stars: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Bokeem Woodbine, Badja Djola

Votes: 2,806

"How does it feel to be on death row, Warden?"

18. 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: 53,334

"You just lost your minimum freedom."

19. 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: 15,140 | Gross: $37.12M

"You want more from me you'll have to earn it."

20. 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: 16,249

Young people can learn a great deal from a skillfully played football game.

21. The Mayor of Hell (1933)

Passed | 90 min | Crime, Drama, Romance

Five members of a teen-age gang, including leader Jimmy Smith, are sent to the state reformatory, presided over by the melodramatically callous Thompson. Soon, Patsy Gargan, a former ... See full summary »

Directors: Archie Mayo, Michael Curtiz | Stars: James Cagney, Madge Evans, Arthur Byron, Allen Jenkins

Votes: 1,316

Excuse me boss, I ain't no lawyer, I can't talk without thinking.

22. 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: 100,563

You know, you gotta love murderers who recycle.

23. Riot in Cell Block 11 (1954)

Not Rated | 80 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

Fed up with the inhumane prison living conditions, a general prison riot breaks out, leading to hostage-taking, a stand-off with the guards and eventual negotiations with the prison administration officials.

Director: Don Siegel | Stars: Neville Brand, Emile Meyer, Frank Faylen, Leo Gordon

Votes: 1,550

Let me at the screws!

24. Crime School (1938)

Not Rated | 85 min | Crime, Drama

A gang of underprivileged teenagers are sentenced to serve two years in a reform school after almost killing a criminal fence who attacked them.

Directors: Lewis Seiler, William Clemens | Stars: Humphrey Bogart, The Dead End Kids, Gale Page, Billy Halop

Votes: 990

It don't take no brain to get burned.

25. Invisible Stripes (1939)

Approved | 81 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

An ex-con who wants to go straight has difficulties trying to reintegrate into society while on parole.

Director: Lloyd Bacon | Stars: George Raft, Jane Bryan, William Holden, Humphrey Bogart

Votes: 1,293 | Gross: $0.11M

You think changin' your uniform means anything, you'll still be wearin' stripes. You may not be able to see 'em, but they'll be there alright.

26. Night Gallery (1969–1973)
Episode: Finnegan's Flight (1972)

TV-PG | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

Charlie Finnegan is serving a life sentence in a federal penitentiary and longs to escape. Fellow prisoner Pete Tuttle tries to help him, with the aid of his talent for hypnosis.

Director: Gene R. Kearney | Stars: Burgess Meredith, Cameron Mitchell, Barry Sullivan, Kenneth Tobey

Votes: 131

I dream about being out there.

27. Prison Break (1938)

Approved | 72 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

Joaquin Shannon arrives home from a cruise on his fishing boat. His first mate, Charles Nelson, is to marry Shannon's sister the next day. Nelson gets drunk and Shannon finds him near the ... See full summary »

Director: Arthur Lubin | Stars: Barton MacLane, Glenda Farrell, Paul Hurst, Constance Moore

Votes: 233

You may be a big shot to some o' these guys, but to me you're just a cheap crook.

28. San Quentin (1937)

Approved | 70 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

An army trainer becomes captain of the prison yard and in time, falls for the sister of a hardened inmate.

Director: Lloyd Bacon | Stars: Pat O'Brien, Ann Sheridan, Humphrey Bogart, Barton MacLane

Votes: 1,612

Well Jamieson, there's your new Army.

29. Women's Prison (1955)

Approved | 80 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

Life at a 1950s women's maximum security prison where the warden and the guards are as brutal as the inmates.

Director: Lewis Seiler | Stars: Ida Lupino, Jan Sterling, Cleo Moore, Audrey Totter

Votes: 671

Make trouble, you get trouble...

30. Cell 2455, Death Row (1955)

Approved | 77 min | Biography, Crime, Drama

Whit, condemned and awaiting execution, reviews the events of his life that has brought him to Cell 2455 on San Quentin's Death Row, a story he had told in a autobiography that became a ... See full summary »

Director: Fred F. Sears | Stars: William Campbell, R. Wright Campbell, Marian Carr, Kathryn Grant

Votes: 282

Warden, why do they have to kill me?

31. The Longest Yard (2005)

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

48 Metascore

Prison inmates form a football team to challenge the prison guards.

Director: Peter Segal | Stars: Adam Sandler, Burt Reynolds, Chris Rock, Nelly

Votes: 156,310 | Gross: $158.12M

It's an honor to be locked up here, Sir.

32. Parole Girl (1933)

67 min | Crime, Drama

A young woman released on parole vows to ruin the life of the man who insisted on sending her to jail.

Director: Edward F. Cline | Stars: Mae Clarke, Ralph Bellamy, Marie Prevost, Hale Hamilton

Votes: 250

You're working a clever racket girly, but you got caught.

33. Up the River (1930)

Passed | 92 min | Comedy, Crime, Drama

When paroled trustee Steve and former inmate Judy who try to put their criminal lives behind them are blackmailed, two career criminals come to their rescue.

Director: John Ford | Stars: Spencer Tracy, Claire Luce, Warren Hymer, Humphrey Bogart

Votes: 991

Remember who you're playin' with, a bunch o' crooks.

34. Riot (1969)

R | 96 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

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.

Director: Buzz Kulik | Stars: Jim Brown, Gene Hackman, Mike Kellin, Gerald S. O'Loughlin

Votes: 407

We're going to elevate the mood of the entire population...

35. Penitentiary (1979)

R | 99 min | Crime, Drama, Sport

A hitchhiker named Martel Gordone gets in a fight with two bikers over a prostitute, and one of the bikers is killed. Gordone is arrested and sent to prison, where he joins the prison's ... See full summary »

Director: Jamaa Fanaka | Stars: Leon Isaac Kennedy, Wilbur 'Hi-Fi' White, Thomas M. Pollard, Hazel Spears

Votes: 828

If you don't handle the fools, they handle you.

36. The Steel Jungle (1956)

Approved | 86 min | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir

A power struggle emerges among convicts condemned to prison life.

Director: Walter Doniger | Stars: Perry Lopez, Beverly Garland, Walter Abel, Ted de Corsia

Votes: 98

That killer is as cute as a bug in a rug.

37. 20,000 Cheers for the Chain Gang (1933)

TV-PG | 20 min | Short, Musical, Comedy

Four convicts escape from a chain gang. Shortly thereafter, changes are made at the prison, because a blue ribbon commission will be investigating conditions there. The changes include ... See full summary »

Director: Roy Mack | Stars: Jerry Bergen, The Rollickers, Novia, The Pickens Sisters

Votes: 186

Hey fellas, lets' escape!



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