best movie genres The Best Prison Movies  

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List Rules Films set in prison or jails or that star prisoners or convicts.

Best prison movies is a list of the top jail films of all time. These are movies that take place within or around a penitentiary. This prison movies list also includes escape movies, as the plot sometimes revolves around a convict's escape attempt.

Jails create an interesting setting for filmmakers. Since prisons are self-encapsulated, prisons tend to form their own societies with their own rules, hierarchies, and etiquette. As such, the prisons become a veritable island for the prisoners inside.

The prison films on this list are some of the best, so there is bound to be at least one on here that you will enjoy. Make sure to vote for what you think is the greatest prison film ever and add your favorite movie set in jail if it's not on the prison movies list.
list ordered by

1
1,482 164
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The Shawshank Redemption Morgan Freeman, Rita Hayworth, Tim Robbins - Released: 1994

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2
1,045 230
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The Green Mile Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise, Sam Rockwell - Released: 1999

3
547 163
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Cool Hand Luke Paul Newman, Dennis Hopper, George Kennedy - Released: 1967

4
422 124
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mrblond added The Great Escape Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough, James Garner

5
561 115
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Escape from Alcatraz Clint Eastwood, Danny Glover, Patrick McGoohan - Released: 1979

6
395 141
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Papillon Dustin Hoffman, Steve McQueen, Vic Tayback - Released: 1973

7
603 123
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American History X Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, Beverly DAngelo

8
369 148
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Midnight Express John Hurt, Randy Quaid, Brad Davis - Released: 1978

9
403 143
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Lon Harris added The Longest Yard Burt Reynolds, Bernadette Peters, Ray Nitschke

10
206 117
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ryanmcw added Birdman of Alcatraz Burt Lancaster, Telly Savalas, Karl Malden

11
333 138
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O Brother, Where Art Thou? George Clooney, John Goodman, Holly Hunter

12
383 108
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wiabux added Law Abiding Citizen Gerard Butler, Jamie Foxx, Viola Davis

13
256 131
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Dead Man Walking Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon, Jack Black - Released: 1995

14
203 118
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KimBrownsey added The Last Castle Robert Redford, Mark Ruffalo, Robin Wright

15
248 101
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oldguy07 added American Me Edward James Olmos, William Forsythe, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa

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16
213 103
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GS69 added Sleepers Brad Pitt, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman

17
148 90
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bojanthebest added Stalag 17 William Holden, Peter Graves, Otto Preminger

18
176 106
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Lon Harris added The Hurricane Denzel Washington, Liev Schreiber, Rod Steiger

19
145 113
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Brubaker Nicolas Cage, Morgan Freeman, Robert Redford - Released: 1980

20
152 90
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Stir Crazy Richard Pryor, Gene Wilder, Craig T. Nelson - Released: 1980

21
442 133
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Con Air Nicolas Cage, John Malkovich, Steve Buscemi

22
268 126
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Bad Boys Sean Penn, Ally Sheedy, Clancy Brown - Released: 1983

23
88 102
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PeteBoyle added Hunger Michael Fassbender, Liam Cunningham, Stuart Graham - Released: 2008

24
128 75
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In the Name of the Father Daniel Day-Lewis, Emma Thompson, Tom Wilkinson

25
108 103
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erwan added A Prophet Leïla Bekhti, Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup

26
244 143
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The Longest Yard Adam Sandler, Courteney Cox, Chris Rock - Released: 2005

27
90 97
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azzy_roth added Jailhouse Rock Elvis Presley, Dean Jones, Gloria Pall

28
156 107
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PeteBoyle added Death Race Jason Statham, Tyrese Gibson, Natalie Martinez - Released: 2008

29
93 17
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mainpleine added The Fugitive Julianne Moore, Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones

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30
152 36
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The Rock Nicolas Cage, Sean Connery, Ed Harris

31
75 11
The Dirty Dozen is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Prison Movies
mainpleine added The Dirty Dozen Jim Brown, Donald Sutherland, Charles Bronson

32
186 82
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Felon Val Kilmer, Anne Archer, Sam Shepard - Released: 2008

33
127 86
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PeteBoyle added Bronson Tom Hardy, Amanda Burton, James Lance - Released: 2009

34
53 3
Schindler's List is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Prison Movies
GilWhiteley added Schindler's List Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley

35
94 78
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Brokedown Palace Kate Beckinsale, Claire Danes, Paul Walker - Released: 1999

36
108 72
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Murder in the First Gary Oldman, Kevin Bacon, William H. Macy - Released: 1994

37
141 52
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BushWanker added Escape from New York Jamie Lee Curtis, Kurt Russell, Ernest Borgnine

38
133 86
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Life Eddie Murphy, Poppy Montgomery, Martin Lawrence - Released: 1999

39
80 21
Scarface is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Prison Movies
mainpleine added Scarface Michelle Pfeiffer, Al Pacino, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio

40
106 79
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Undisputed Wesley Snipes, Master P, Peter Falk - Released: 2002

41
61 23
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mainpleine added The Count of Monte Cristo Henry Cavill, Jim Caviezel, Guy Pearce

42
58 18
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mainpleine added Tango & Cash Sylvester Stallone, Teri Hatcher, Kurt Russell

43
104 47
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Holes Shia LaBeouf, Sigourney Weaver, Patricia Arquette - Released: 2003

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44
65 58
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The Defiant Ones Sidney Poitier, Tony Curtis, Lon Chaney

45
81 81
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Get the Gringo Mel Gibson, Peter Stormare, Dean Norris

46
121 70
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Lock Up Sylvester Stallone, Donald Sutherland, Tom Sizemore - Released: 1989

47
72 73
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AdrianDanga added Runaway Train Jon Voight, Rebecca De Mornay, Eric Roberts

48
23 3
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The Bridge on the River Kwai Alec Guinness, William Holden, Jack Hawkins

49
80 61
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wiabux added Let's Go to Prison Will Arnett, Michael Shannon, Bob Odenkirk - Released: 2006

50
63 74
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Animal Factory Mickey Rourke, Willem Dafoe, Edward Furlong - Released: 2000