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Best Prison Films of All Time

Updated on March 6, 2017

Hard Knocks Life

Escape From Alcatraz  featuring Clint Eastwood was based on a true story about a man who actually escaped from Alcatraz Prison. This is a great movie and Clint Eastwood played a great role in this movie.
Escape From Alcatraz featuring Clint Eastwood was based on a true story about a man who actually escaped from Alcatraz Prison. This is a great movie and Clint Eastwood played a great role in this movie. | Source
Stephen King wrote The Shawshank Redemption and the film stars Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins. Parts of this movie are sad but, true.Very harsh at times. Not for viewing of small children.
Stephen King wrote The Shawshank Redemption and the film stars Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins. Parts of this movie are sad but, true.Very harsh at times. Not for viewing of small children. | Source
The Hurricane was about boxer Rubin Carter and stars Denzel Washington as the boxer who was found guilty of a murder he did not do and spent twenty years in prison.
The Hurricane was about boxer Rubin Carter and stars Denzel Washington as the boxer who was found guilty of a murder he did not do and spent twenty years in prison. | Source
Sly Stallone stars in Lock Up. In this film Sylvester Stallone goes to prison for a crime he did not commit.  He is used by the prison to see if he can escape because, he is supposed to be one of the escapees of his time.
Sly Stallone stars in Lock Up. In this film Sylvester Stallone goes to prison for a crime he did not commit. He is used by the prison to see if he can escape because, he is supposed to be one of the escapees of his time. | Source
Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon star in Dead Man Walking which is dramatic to say the least.
Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon star in Dead Man Walking which is dramatic to say the least. | Source
Tom Hanks and Michael Clark Duncan ruled the screen in Stephen King's The Green Mile. The film features many deep and dramatic scenes on death row.
Tom Hanks and Michael Clark Duncan ruled the screen in Stephen King's The Green Mile. The film features many deep and dramatic scenes on death row. | Source

Behind The Bars With The Stars

Hollywood is a little overrun with prison and jail house flicks but, the ones on the list below, separate themselves from the pack for a multitude of reasons. The prison scenes in these films are very horrible and represent how it is really. Some people in jail re. I hope you enjoy my selections as to the top prison films ever produced.

1. The Green Mile: Stephen King wrote this film starring Tom Hanks and the late Michael Clark Duncan. Duncan is accused of murder and sent to death row but, he did not do it. The guards are in for a shock when they realize this big man on the green mile is a miracle worker. Of course, the killer known as Billy the Kid is an integral part of this movie. The movie is a one of a kind prison film with a great plot and even better acting.

2. The Shawshank Redemption: Tim Robbins plays as Andy a man sent to prison for killing his wife, a crime he did not do. He befriends Red, played by Morgan Freeman, and after years in prison and many hardships he finally breaks out and escapes. This movie is horrific in many ways but it shows humanity as it is also. Robbins chisels his way through his prison cell wall for 20 years before making it out.

3. Escape from Alcatraz: Clint Eastwood plays as Frank Morris a man sent to Alcatraz Maximum security prison after having escaped from other prisons before. In this movie based on the true story, of the only people to ever escape Alcatraz you will be on the edge of your seat in the final scenes. Did they drown in the waters, get eaten by sharks or escape the island prison in San Fransisco?

4. The Hurricane: Denzel Washington plays as Rubin "The Hurricane" Carter, a boxer who was imprisoned for 20 years for a murder he did not commit. The decision was finally overturned and Carter was vindicated in this movie based on true events.The movie shows Carter imprisoned and his court trial to be free which was dramatic to say the least..

5. Cool Hand Luke: Paul Newman and George Kennedy star in this movie set in the Florida Penal System. Luke, played by Newman refuse to play by prison rules and pays an awful price for being hard headed. In the end not only do the inmates respect Luke but the guards do as well.

6. Dead Man Walking: Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon star in this film where Penn is a prisoner on death row for murdering two people. Until his execution date, he maintains his innocence and you learn about his soul. This was a true tearjerker and Sean Penn did an excellent playing the convict.

7. Lock Up: Sly Stallone is in a minimum security prison about to be released but his sworn enemy from the past, the warden, played by Donald Sutherland, has a grudge and Sly is staying in prison for good unless he can find a way to freedom. In the end the warden gets put in the electric chair. One of Sly Stallone's best ever screen performances without a doubt.

8. The Great Escape: Steve Mcqueen and James Garner are pow's being held in a German prison during world war 2. This is a true story that describes the escapes from Nazi prisons in Germany and Poland.

9. American History X: Edward Norton stars in this prison film about racism and learning right from wrong. The film is very deep and many flashes occur in the movie filmed in black and white for effect. Norton was nominated for an Academy Award and he really deserved it.

10. Prison Break: The Final Break: This is more or less two hours added to the 4 seasons of the show. This film shows prison escapes but, it also shows the aftermath when you are hunted. Unbelievably, there are twists and turns even at this final season. I was very surprised to see that Micheal passed away.

Please feel free to live any comments or opinions that you may have in the comments box located at the bottom of this article.

American History X

American History X is rated R for extreme language and violence. It's horrific and terrific at the same time.
American History X is rated R for extreme language and violence. It's horrific and terrific at the same time. | Source

Where is It Located?


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The Green Mile

5 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of The green Mile Film

Shawshank Redemption Trailer

Prison Break on Television

The Prison Break television show ran for 4 complete seasons and it was a great show. Also, a movie followed season 4. This series was excellent and the film was pretty good also. It shows the inside of the prison system and the convicts on the lamb. All the guards in the prison were as crooked as the felons were. The first two seasons were realistic and intense from start to finish.

Location of Alcatraz Prison

Which is The Best?

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Escape From Alcatraz Trailer

© 2012 Buster Johnson

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    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 4 years ago from Minnesota

      I really liked the Green Mile and Shawshank Redemption. I haven't seen several on your list so I'll have to check them out. Nice review!

    • Discordzrocks profile image

      Gavin Heinz 13 months ago from Austin TX

      Great review, though Shawshank Redemption should be higher.

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