The 45+ Best R-Rated Prison Movies

Over 100 Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The 45+ Best R-Rated Prison Movies
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List of R-Rated prison movies, ranked from best to worst with movie trailers when available. This list takes the best R-Rated prison movies and pits them against each other to see once and for all what the greatest R-Rated Prison movie of all time is. This list of popular R-Rated prison movies includes information like who directed the film, when it was released and which actors starred in the movie. If you think the top R-Rated Prison movie isn't as high as it should be then be sure to vote it up so it can take its rightful place among the other great R-Rated Prison films on this list. If you're trying to find a specific R-Rated Prison film you can search this list and filter to find what you're looking for.

List contains movies like Stir Crazy and Midnight Express.

If you're trying to find out "What are the best R-Rated prison movies?" and "What are the most famous R-Rated prison movies?" then this list is the perfect resource for you.

Use this list if you're looking for some new prison movies that are rated R. Between Netflix, Hulu and other services there are thousands of great prison movies rated R, so get out there and start watching.

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Did you know that Sidney Poitier and Steve Buscemi have both directed R Prison film movies?

Most divisive: Prison Song
Ranked by
  • The Shawshank Redemption
    Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton
    23 votes
    • Released: 1994
    • Directed by: Frank Darabont

    This critically acclaimed film, based on a Stephen King novella, follows the lives of two inmates, Andy and Red, who form an unlikely friendship while serving time in the notorious Shawshank State Penitentiary. The movie expertly portrays themes of hope, redemption, and the power of human spirit amidst the miserable backdrop of a corrupt prison system. As one of the most lauded movies of all time, it is a must-watch for anyone wanting to explore the depths of humanity within the confines of captivity.

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  • Stir Crazy
    Gene Wilder, Richard Pryor, Georg Stanford Brown
    33 votes
    • Released: 1980
    • Directed by: Sidney Poitier

    Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor star as two struggling actors who are wrongfully convicted and sent to prison in this entertaining comedy. Their comedic chemistry and impeccable timing shines as they navigate life behind bars, ultimately ending up in a prison rodeo that proves their innocence. While it may not be the most dramatic or poignant film on this list, Stir Crazy’s humorous take on the injustices and absurdities of the penal system makes it a standout choice.

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  • Lock Up
    Sylvester Stallone, Donald Sutherland, John Amos
    16 votes
    • Released: 1989
    • Directed by: John Flynn

    Sylvester Stallone stars as Frank Leone, an honor-bound prisoner nearing the end of his sentence when he is suddenly transferred to a maximum-security facility run by a sadistic warden. This thrilling action-drama showcases the brutal realities of the prison experience, as Leone struggles to maintain his dignity and survive the indignities he is subjected to. With a strong performance by Stallone and an engaging story, Lock Up offers a gripping exploration of the themes of endurance, hope, and eventual triumph over adversity.

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  • Midnight Express
    Brad Davis, Randy Quaid, John Hurt
    21 votes
    • Released: 1978
    • Directed by: Alan Parker

    Based on the harrowing true story of Billy Hayes, an American college student caught smuggling drugs out of Turkey, this drama showcases the brutality and inhumanity of a Turkish prison system. The film's unflinching depiction of torture, abuse, and the desperation of its inmates has made it a seminal work in the prison movie genre. With its powerful performances and gut-wrenching story, Midnight Express remains a deeply affecting piece of cinema that will stay with its viewers long after the credits roll.

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  • South Central
    Glenn Plummer, Byron Keith Minns, Lexie Bigham
    21 votes
    • Released: 1992
    • Directed by: Stephen Milburn Anderson

    Set in the gang-ridden streets of Los Angeles, this gritty film follows the story of a reformed gang member named Bobby, who is sent to prison where he struggles to resist the lure of his past life. The film skillfully portrays the challenges faced by those trying to break free from a cycle of violence and crime, both inside and outside of prison walls. South Central is an unapologetically raw and insightful look at the struggle for redemption in a world of seemingly insurmountable odds.

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  • The Last Castle
    Robert Redford, James Gandolfini, Mark Ruffalo
    17 votes
    • Released: 2001
    • Directed by: Rod Lurie

    Robert Redford stars as a highly decorated US Army General court-martialed and sent to a military prison run by an iron-fisted warden, brilliantly played by James Gandolfini. This gripping drama follows the ensuing battle of wills between the two men, with Redford's character rallying the inmates in a desperate bid to take control of the prison. The film masterfully explores themes of honor, duty, and the lengths people will go to fight for what they believe in.

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