The Green Mile (1999)
Like The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile is a prison movie based on Stephen King story – but this time the focus is on the guards, led by Tom Hanks, and the ways in which they are affected by a death row prisoner. If you like a blub, whack this 3-hour epic on your DVD player and you’ll be reaching for your hanky in no time.
Escape To Victory (1981)
We couldn’t compile a list of prison films without including this oddity. It stars Michael Caine and Sylvester Stallone alongside the likes of Pele, Bobby Moore and Ossie Ardiles as POWs forced to play in a propaganda match against Nazi Germany’s finest footballers. And it’s directed by one of cinema’s great auteurs, John Huston!
A Prophet (2009)
This French film conjures up a hellish portrayal of prison life and its daily hardships – not only on your body but on your mind and perhaps your very soul. Not an easy movie to watch by any means – but there’s no doubting it’s masterful stuff.
Another outing for Steve McQueen, Papillon is the true story of a petty criminal sent to a brutal penal colony in French Guiana for a murder he didn’t commit – and his attempts to escape the prison and endure life under solitary confinement. Dustin Hoffman co-stars as Papillon’s best friend and fellow inmate.
Midnight Express (1978)
The best deterrent against smuggling drugs ever, Midnight Express tells the “true” tale of an American banged up in an horrific Turkish jail for attempting to traffic hashish. It’s a powerful story of what can happen – a total loss of free will – when you transgress against the state. Its depiction of Turkey might be controversial – the real life jail was nowhere near as barbaric and backward as it appears here – but Midnight Express will linger long in your memory after the credits stop rolling.