Film
29 voters

The Best Prisoner of War Movies

Updated August 8, 2019 206 votes 29 voters 1.1k views31 items

The best prisoner of war movies keep you on the edge of your seat. Most of them have some sort of historical basis, so they can be a little educational in addition to being intense. WWII POW movies are the most common, but others have been set amid different conflicts. There are Vietnam POW movies, as well as some set during the Civil War and the French Resistance. In this type of film, you will find a nice mix of true stories and historical fiction. Rescue Dawn is a great Christian Bale POW movie and it is based on a true story.

Use this list to vote for the top POW films of all time. If there's a prisoner of war movie that you think is among the greatest and isn't included here, add it to the list. Then check back to see how other users are ranking your choice.  

  • The Great Escape1
    14
    4

    The Great Escape

    Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough

    Released1963

    Directed byJohn Sturges

    The Great Escape is a 1963 American WWII epic film based on an escape by British and... more on Wikipedia
  • The Colditz Story2
    12
    2

    The Colditz Story

    John Mills, David Yates

    Released1954

    Directed byGuy Hamilton

    The Colditz Story is a 1955 prisoner of war film starring John Mills and Eric Portman and... more on Wikipedia
  • The Bridge on the River Kwai3
    12
    4

    The Bridge on the River Kwai

    Alec Guinness, William Holden

    Released1957

    Directed byDavid Lean

    The Bridge on the River Kwai is a 1957 WWII epic film directed by David Lean, based on the... more on Wikipedia

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  • Empire of the Sun4
    10
    2

    Empire of the Sun

    Christian Bale, Ben Stiller

    Released1987

    Directed bySteven Spielberg

    Empire of the Sun is a 1987 American coming of age film based on J. G. Ballard's... more on Wikipedia

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  • Paradise Road5
    6
    0

    Paradise Road

    Cate Blanchett, Glenn Close

    Released1997

    Directed byBruce Beresford

    Paradise Road is a 1997 war film which tells the story of a group of English, American, Dutch... more on Wikipedia

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  • Unbroken6
    8
    2

    Unbroken

    Garrett Hedlund, Domhnall Gleeson

    Released2014

    Directed byAngelina Jolie

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  • Rescue Dawn7
    8
    2

    Rescue Dawn

    Christian Bale, Steve Zahn

    Released2006

    Directed byWerner Herzog

    Rescue Dawn is a 2006 American drama film directed by Werner Herzog, based on an adapted... more on Wikipedia

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  • Stalag 178
    7
    2

    Stalag 17

    William Holden, Peter Graves

    Released1953

    Directed byBilly Wilder

    Stalag 17 is a 1953 comedy-drama war film which tells the story of a group of American airmen... more on Wikipedia
  • The Way Back9
    6
    4

    The Way Back

    Colin Farrell, Saoirse Ronan

    Released2010

    Directed byPeter Weir

    The Way Back is a 2010 epic drama film directed by Peter Weir, from a screenplay by Weir and... more on Wikipedia

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  • King Rat10
    5
    2

    King Rat

    George Segal, John Mills

    Released1965

    Directed byBryan Forbes

    King Rat is a 1965 WWII film adapted from the James Clavell novel King Rat. The film was... more on Wikipedia
  • Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence11
    5
    4

    Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence

    David Bowie, Beat Kitano

    Released1983

    Directed byNagisa Oshima

    Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence is a 1983 Japanese-British film directed by Nagisa Oshima,... more on Wikipedia
  • Andersonville12
    2
    1

    Andersonville

    William H. Macy, Thomas F. Wilson

    Released1996

    Directed byJohn Frankenheimer

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  • A Man Escaped13
    4
    2

    A Man Escaped

    François Leterrier, Jacques Ertaud

    Released1956

    Directed byRobert Bresson

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  • Escape from Sobibor14
    8
    1

    Escape from Sobibor

    Alan Arkin, Rutger Hauer

    Released1987

    Directed byJack Gold

    Escape from Sobibor is a 1987 British made-for-TV film which aired on CBS. It is the story of... more on Wikipedia

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  • Escape to Victory15
    2
    2

    Escape to Victory

    Sylvester Stallone, Pelé

    Released1981

    Directed byJohn Huston

    Escape to Victory (aka Victory) is a 1981 sports drama film about Allied POW who are interned... more on Wikipedia

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  • The Grand Illusion16
    5
    2

    The Grand Illusion

    Erich von Stroheim, Jean Gabin

    Released1937

    Directed byJean Renoir

    La Grande Illusion is a 1937 French war film directed by Jean Renoir, who co-wrote the... more on Wikipedia
  • Hart's War17
    1
    2

    Hart's War

    Bruce Willis, Colin Farrell

    Released2002

    Directed byGregory Hoblit

    This film is a 2002 American thriller drama film about a WWII POW camp based on the novel by... more on Wikipedia
  • Little Dieter Needs to Fly18
    2
    1

    Little Dieter Needs to Fly

    Dieter Dengler, Werner Herzog

    Released1997

    Directed byWerner Herzog

    Little Dieter Needs to Fly is a 1997 documentary film made for German television, written and... more on Wikipedia
  • The Captive Heart19
    0
    2

    The Captive Heart

    Michael Redgrave, Gordon Jackson

    Released1946

    Directed byBasil Dearden

    The Captive Heart is a 1946 British war drama, directed by Basil Dearden and starring Michael... more on Wikipedia
  • The Deer Hunter20
    8
    1

    The Deer Hunter

    Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro

    Released1978

    Directed byMichael Cimino

    The Deer Hunter is a 1978 American epic drama film co-written and directed by Michael Cimino... more on Wikipedia

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  • The Great Raid21
    4
    0

    The Great Raid

    James Franco, Sam Worthington

    Released2005

    Directed byJohn Dahl

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  • The Hanoi Hilton22
    8
    0

    The Hanoi Hilton

    Jeffrey Jones, David Soul

    Released1987

    Directed byLionel Chetwynd

    The Hanoi Hilton is a 1987 Vietnam War film which focuses on the experiences of American... more on Wikipedia
  • The McKenzie Break23
    2
    0

    The McKenzie Break

    Brian Keith, Ian Hendry

    Released1970

    Directed byLamont Johnson

    The McKenzie Break is a 1970 British war drama film directed by Lamont Johnson, starring Brian... more on Wikipedia
  • The Password Is Courage24
    2
    0

    The Password Is Courage

    Dirk Bogarde, Nigel Stock

    Released1962

    Directed byAndrew L. Stone

    The Password is Courage is a 1962 film based on John Castle's 1954 Second World War memoir of... more on Wikipedia
  • To End All Wars25
    2
    0

    To End All Wars

    Kiefer Sutherland, Mark Strong

    Released2001

    Directed byDavid L. Cunningham

    To End All Wars is a 2001 war film starring Robert Carlyle, Kiefer Sutherland and Sakae Kimura... more on Wikipedia

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