Several creators have explored Movies About Jail. We found 25 of our favorites.
From Frank Darabont, starring Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler
The Shawshank Redemption is a drama film directed by Frank Darabont and based on the Stephen King novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. It tells the story of Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), a banker wrongly convicted of murdering his wife and her lover and sentenced to life in the Shawshank State Prison. Despite the harsh conditions, Andy befriends another prisoner, Red (Morgan Freeman), and finds purpose in his life by helping his fellow inmates. After two decades of confinement, Andy makes a daring escape with the help of his friends. In the end, he is freed from his wrongful conviction and Red is reunited with him on the outside. Along the way, the two men discover the importance of friendship and hope in the face of insurmountable odds.
From Frank Darabont, starring Tom Hanks, Michael Clarke Duncan, David Morse, Bonnie Hunt
The Green Mile is a 1999 American fantasy drama film directed by Frank Darabont based on Stephen King's 1996 novel of the same name. The film stars Tom Hanks as a death row corrections officer during the Great Depression who witnesses supernatural events that occur after an enigmatic inmate (Michael Clarke Duncan) is brought to his facility. The film also features David Morse, Bonnie Hunt, James Cromwell, and Michael Jeter. The story follows the experiences of a death row corrections officer Paul Edgecomb during the 1930s, as he tries to retain his sanity and maintain order in the face of the madness that surrounds him. Edgecomb's life is forever changed when John Coffey, a mysterious inmate with supernatural powers, is brought to his facility and placed in Edgecomb's custody. As Edgecomb develops a bond with Coffey, he discovers that Coffey is capable of a range of mysterious feats, including healing the sick and bringing life back to the dead. Edgecomb soon realizes that Coffey is a souls in search of redemption, which leads him to confront the truth about his own life and to give Coffey the peace he deserves.
From Tony Kaye, starring Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, Beverly D'Angelo, Jennifer Lien
American History X is a 1998 drama film directed by Tony Kaye and written by David McKenna. It stars Edward Norton as Derek Vinyard, a former neo-Nazi skinhead who serves three years in prison for the manslaughter of two black youths. After his release, Derek is determined to prevent his younger brother, Danny (Edward Furlong), from following the same path of hatred and violence. As Derek struggles to reform himself and save his brother, he must also confront the consequences of his past actions. The film also features strong performances from Beverly D'Angelo, Elliott Gould, and Avery Brooks. American History X is an unflinching exploration of racism in America and the consequences of violent extremism.
From John Sturges, starring Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson
The Great Escape is a classic World War II film from 1963, directed by John Sturges and starring Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, and James Donald. It follows the true story of a group of Allied prisoners of war who plan a daring escape from a German camp in 1944. The group is led by Steve McQueen's character, Virgil Hilts, and the plan includes digging three separate tunnels in order to create enough of a distraction to allow for the escape. As the escape takes place, the prisoners are pursued by a relentless Nazi force, and the film builds to an exciting climax as Hilts and the others fight to make it to safety.
From Stuart Rosenberg, starring Paul Newman, George Kennedy, Strother Martin, J.D. Cannon
Cool Hand Luke is a 1967 drama film directed by Stuart Rosenberg and starring Paul Newman as the title character. The story follows the life of Lucas "Luke" Jackson, a non-conformist ex-convict who refuses to conform to the arbitrary rules of a small-town Southern chain gang. Luke's struggle to remain a free-spirited individual in the face of oppressive authority makes him a hero to the other prisoners. After multiple failed escape attempts, he is eventually beaten and killed, prompting the other prisoners to finally break their silence and honor his memory. The film has become a classic, praised for its performances by Newman and the supporting cast, its memorable dialogue, and its message of defiance in the face of injustice.
From Jim Sheridan, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Pete Postlethwaite, Alison Crosbie, Philip King
In the Name of the Father follows the story of Gerry Conlon, a young Irishman who is wrongfully convicted of a terrorist bombing in London. After being framed for the bombing and sentenced to life in prison, Gerry receives support from his lawyer, Gareth Peirce. With the help of Peirce, Gerry is able to prove his innocence and exonerate himself and the other four members of the Guildford Four. Throughout the film, Gerry struggles to find closure and comes to terms with the injustice of his wrongful conviction. The film is an emotional exploration of the legal system and the effects of wrongful imprisonment.
From Franklin J. Schaffner, starring Steve McQueen, Dustin Hoffman, Victor Jory, Don Gordon
Papillon is the 1973 biographical crime drama directed by Franklin J. Schaffner, based on the book by the same name by Henri Charrière. The movie stars Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman as Henri Charrière and Louis Dega, two criminals who are sent to a notorious penal colony on a small island off the coast of French Guiana. The film follows their struggles as they attempt to survive the harsh and inhumane conditions of the prison, as well as escape attempts by Charrière, aided by Dega's resources. Along the way, the two prisoners experience a variety of physical and psychological challenges as they strive to survive and remain hopeful for freedom.
From Billy Wilder, starring William Holden, Don Taylor, Otto Preminger, Robert Strauss
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Stalag 17 is a 1953 black comedy film set in a German POW camp during World War II. It follows the exploits of a group of American prisoners, headed by J. J. Sefton (William Holden), as they attempt to escape from their captors. Along the way, they come to suspect that one of their own is a German informant. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and won Best Actor for William Holden. It is widely regarded as one of the finest POW films ever made.
From Taylor Hackford, starring Damian Chapa, Jesse Borrego, Benjamin Bratt, Enrique Castillo
Blood In, Blood Out is a 1993 crime drama directed by Taylor Hackford and starring Damian Chapa, Jesse Borrego, Benjamin Bratt, and Enrique Castillo. It follows three young men, Miklo (Chapa), Paco (Borrego) and Cruz (Castillo), who are all bound by family, loyalty and the street. When Miklo's brother is murdered, he seeks revenge by joining a notorious prison gang known as the "Vatos Locos". The gang's influence soon leads Miklo and his friends down a dangerous path of bloodshed and violence. As the consequences spiral out of control, the three must choose between loyalty and survival. With intense action and an unforgettable score, Blood In, Blood Out paints a vivid and powerful portrait of street life.
From Sidney Lumet, starring Sean Connery, Harry Andrews, Ian Bannen, Alfred Lynch
The Hill is a 1965 British drama film directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Sean Connery and Ian Bannen. It is set in a British Army prison in North Africa during World War II. Connery stars as Joe Roberts, a sergeant in the British Army who has been wrongfully convicted of cowardice in the face of the enemy. He is sent to the North African prison, where he is subjected to a harsh regimen of physical and psychological torture by the sadistic camp commandant, Staff Sergeant Williams (Ian Bannen). Roberts' only hope of survival is to find a way to climb the titular hill and escape. Along the way, he must find a way to deal with the injustices of the system, while forming a bond with the other inmates. The Hill is a powerful exploration of the psychological effects of military imprisonment, and it garnered widespread critical acclaim upon its release.
From Jacques Audiard, starring Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup, Adel Bencherif, Reda Kateb
A Prophet follows Malik El Djebena, an illiterate nineteen-year-old of North African descent who is sent to prison for six years. While there, he is initiated into the Corsican mafia and becomes the protégé of the most powerful man in the prison. As his knowledge and power grow, so does his capacity to play the numerous factions within the prison and eventually, outside of it. Through acts of violence, manipulation, and cunning, Malik gradually rises to a position of power and influence. Along the way, he learns the value of loyalty and courage and discovers his place in the world.
From John Frankenheimer, starring Burt Lancaster, Karl Malden, Thelma Ritter, Neville Brand
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Birdman of Alcatraz is a 1962 American biographical drama film directed by John Frankenheimer and starring Burt Lancaster. The film tells the story of Robert Stroud, a notorious prisoner, who was held in solitary confinement for decades and who spent his imprisonment studying and caring for birds. After being sentenced to prison for killing a man in a bar fight, Stroud is sent to Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay, where he is denied the right to keep birds. Through his determined efforts, he eventually wins the right to keep birds in his cell. Ultimately, Stroud's relationship with the birds helps him develop a sense of purpose and his intellectual and scientific pursuits gain him recognition and respect from the other inmates and prison staff. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards and won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Drama.
From Jim Jarmusch, starring Tom Waits, John Lurie, Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi
Down by Law is a 1986 black-and-white comedy-drama directed by Jim Jarmusch. The film follows three men, Zack (Tom Waits), Jack (John Lurie), and Roberto (Roberto Benigni), as they are wrongfully arrested and thrown into the same jail cell together. Despite their differences, the three men become friends, and when they manage to escape, they embark on a road trip to freedom. Along the way, they experience the hardships of life on the run, as well as the joys of newfound companionship. The journey brings them to a bayou where they must confront their own limitations and decide whether to continue on their pursuit of freedom or yield to the temptations of conformity.
From Kevin Reynolds, starring Jim Caviezel, Guy Pearce, Christopher Adamson, JB Blanc
The Count of Monte Cristo is a 2002 American-French adventure drama film directed by Kevin Reynolds and based on the 1844 novel by Alexandre Dumas, père. The film stars James Caviezel as Edmond Dantès, a young French sailor falsely accused of treason by his jealous rival Fernand Mondego, played by Guy Pearce. After spending 14 years in prison, Dantes escapes and, using a hidden treasure he found on the island of Monte Cristo, sets out to seek revenge against those who betrayed him. Along the way, Dantes finds friendship, love and a renewed sense of purpose. Ultimately, Dantes discovers that true redemption and joy can be found in forgiving and forgetting the past, rather than in revenge.
From Oliver Hirschbiegel, starring Moritz Bleibtreu, Christian Berkel, Oliver Stokowski, Wotan Wilke Möhring
The Experiment is a German psychological thriller based on the true story of the Stanford Prison Experiment of 1971. It follows 26 men who have agreed to participate in a two-week study on the psychology of imprisonment. They are randomly assigned to be either guards or prisoners and are immediately caught in a power struggle between the two sides. As the experiment progresses, the brutality of the guards and the despair of the prisoners intensify, leading to a shocking and violent climax.
From Steven Spielberg, starring Christian Bale, John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson, Nigel Havers
Empire of the Sun is a 1987 war drama film directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Christian Bale, John Malkovich, Miranda Richardson, and Nigel Havers. The film follows the story of a young British boy, James Graham, as he is separated from his parents and forced to live in a Japanese internment camp during World War II. Through his journey, James learns valuable lessons about resilience, hardship, and friendship in the face of adversity. Along the way, he also meets an American airman, Basie, who helps him to survive and gives him hope. As the war comes to an end, James is reunited with his family and is able to return home.
From Don Siegel, starring Clint Eastwood, Patrick McGoohan, Roberts Blossom, Jack Thibeau
Escape from Alcatraz is a 1979 American prison-escape drama film directed by Don Siegel. It is based on the non-fiction book of the same name by J. Campbell Bruce and dramatizes the 1962 Alcatraz Prison escape attempt by inmates Frank Morris, John Anglin and Clarence Anglin. The film stars Clint Eastwood, Patrick McGoohan, and Robert Strauss. The film follows Frank Morris, John Anglin, and Clarence Anglin as they plan and execute an elaborate escape from the maximum security prison on Alcatraz Island. Facing the ever-present and seemingly insurmountable wall of federal bureaucracy, Morris and the Anglin brothers devise a plan and procure the necessary supplies to make it work. After months of hard work, the three manage to make a daring escape from the prison, but their fate remains unknown.
From Alan Clarke, starring Ray Winstone, Mick Ford, Julian Firth, John Blundell
Scum is a 1979 British drama film directed by Alan Clarke and written by Roy Minton. It is an uncompromising exploration of violence and racism set in a British borstal (a youth detention centre). The film follows the story of a young inmate named Carlin, who endures a brutal, oppressive regime at the hands of both staff and fellow inmates. As Carlin fights for survival, he uncovers a corruption at the heart of the institution and a dark secret kept by the authorities. The film is a scathing indictment of the British penal system as well as a powerful story of one man's struggle against a cruel and uncaring system.
From Hector Babenco, starring Enrique Diaz, Wagner Moura, Caio Blat, Luiz Carlos Vasconcelos
Carandiru is a 2003 Brazilian drama film directed by Hector Babenco. The film is set in the Carandiru prison in São Paulo, one of the largest prisons in the world. It follows the experience of the prison's doctor, Dr. Drauzio Varella, as he tries to help the inmates and keep them healthy during a time of extreme overcrowding and violence. Despite this, the inmates find ways to connect with each other and live relatively normal lives, forming strong and lasting bonds. When the government decides to shut down the prison, however, these bonds are tested and tragedy ensues. The film is based on the true story of Dr. Varella's experience and uses testimonies from ex-inmates to tell an emotionally charged story of humanity, justice, and resilience in the face of difficult circumstances.
From Steve McQueen, starring Stuart Graham, Laine Megaw, Brian Milligan, Liam McMahon
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"Hunger" (2008) is a powerful drama directed by Steve McQueen and starring Michael Fassbender, which tells the story of Bobby Sands, an Irish Republican Army (IRA) member who led a hunger strike in the Maze Prison in 1981. The film follows Sands and his fellow members of the IRA as they endure torture and inhuman conditions in an attempt to draw attention to their political cause. As the hunger strike wears on and Sands' health deteriorates, his faith in the cause and his commitment to his comrades never wavers. Through powerful visual imagery and intense performances, McQueen captures the deeply personal struggle of Sands, as well as the broader implications of his story. "Hunger" is a gripping and thought-provoking film that explores the depths of human suffering in pursuit of political change.
From Alan Parker, starring Brad Davis, Irene Miracle, Bo Hopkins, Paolo Bonacelli
Midnight Express is a 1978 American drama film directed by Alan Parker. The film stars Brad Davis, Irene Miracle, and John Hurt. The screenplay was written by Oliver Stone, based on Billy Hayes' 1977 non-fiction book Midnight Express. The film follows the story of Billy Hayes (Davis), an American college student who is caught attempting to smuggle hashish out of Turkey and is sentenced to a long-term prison sentence in a Turkish prison. While in prison, Hayes faces extreme mental and physical torture. The film portrays a harsh depiction of the Turkish prison system and highlights the struggles of Hayes as he fights to survive in a hostile and foreign environment. Ultimately, he finds a way to escape and return to his homeland. Midnight Express was a critical and commercial success, earning several Academy Award nominations and winning two Oscars, one for Best Screenplay and one for Best Music (original score). It has since become a cult classic and is widely considered to be one of the greatest films of its time.
From Tim Robbins, starring Susan Sarandon, Sean Penn, Robert Prosky, Raymond J. Barry
Dead Man Walking is a powerful drama based on the true story of convicted murderer Matthew Poncelet (Sean Penn). After being sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a teenage couple, Sister Helen Prejean (Susan Sarandon) volunteers to be his spiritual advisor and to help him come to terms with his fate. Her journey leads her to a deeper understanding of the complex issues surrounding the death penalty and its ultimate purpose. The film follows her struggle to reconcile her beliefs with the harsh reality of the prison system, and the impact of her actions on both Poncelet and her own life. It is a story of redemption and forgiveness, with a powerful message about the value of human life.
From Stefan Ruzowitzky, starring Karl Markovics, August Diehl, Devid Striesow, Martin Brambach
The Counterfeiters is a 2007 German drama film about the largest counterfeiting operation in history, organized by the Nazis during World War II. The film follows Salomon Sorowitsch (Karl Markovics), a Jewish-German master forger who is forced to work in a concentration camp. Despite the horrific conditions, Salomon uses his expertise to help the Nazis create counterfeit currency that could destabilize the British and American economies. As the Nazis continue to put pressure on the counterfeiters to produce, Salomon must use his skills to survive and ultimately save his own life. With a powerful story and stellar performances, The Counterfeiters is a gripping drama that explores the human capacity for sacrifice and resilience in the face of unspeakable suffering.
From Ric Roman Waugh, starring Stephen Dorff, Marisol Nichols, Vincent Miller, Anne Archer
From David Mackenzie, starring Jack O'Connell, Ben Mendelsohn, Rupert Friend, Sam Spruell
Rated Not Rated
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