I can’t think of anything worse than being locked up and not getting to go and do what I want, which is possibly why I found prison movies so interesting and I don’t think I’m alone since some of the films on this list are some of the most highly rated films on IMDB….
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Starring: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton
Guilty?: Not even a little bit
Escape: One of the most epic cinematic escapes ever
“Andy Dufresne: Red. If you ever get out of here, do me a favor.
Red: Sure, Andy. Anything.
Andy Dufresne: There’s a big hayfield up near Buxton. You know where Buxton is?
Red: Well, there’s… there’s a lot of hayfields up there.
Andy Dufresne: One in particular. It’s got a long rock wall with a big oak tree at the north end. It’s like something out of a Robert Frost poem. It’s where I asked my wife to marry me. We went there for a picnic and made love under that oak and I asked and she said yes. Promise me, Red. If you ever get out… find that spot. At the base of that wall, you’ll find a rock that has no earthly business in a Maine hayfield. Piece of black, volcanic glass. There’s something buried under it I want you to have.
Red: What, Andy? What’s buried under there?
Andy Dufresne: [turns to walk away] You’ll have to pry it up… to see.“
Midnight Express (1978)
Starring: Brad Davis, Irene Miracle, Bo Hopkins
Escape: Violently in the nick of time
“Jimmy: So… Billy, what are you in for? Hash?
Billy Hayes: Yeah.
Jimmy: Where’d they get you?
Billy Hayes: The airport… trying to get home.
Jimmy: You go through customs?
Billy Hayes: Yeah, I was busted right at the plane.
Jimmy: Aw, man that’s heavy. That’s very heavy.
Erich: It’s bad if they get you for smuggling, but if they make it posession, the sentance is lighter. The best thing for you to do, Billy, is try to make bail. If you make bail, you’re free. You can easily get yourself a fake passport on the black market, or get yourself across the border into Greece.
Jimmy: Dream on, Erich. They’ll never grant bail to foreigners whom may be a flight risk.
Erich: But if you argue in court about you being innocent…
Jimmy: This ain’t the good ol’ USA! This is Turkey, man! It’s a fuckin’ accident here if you’re innocent! There ain’t nobody here that is innocent! “
Mean Machine (2001)
Starring: Vinnie Jones, Danny Dyer, Jason Flemyng
Guilty?: He did it!
Escape: Eventual release
“[Watching the monk practice karate]
Doc: Apparently he killed 23 men with his bare hands.
Danny Meehan: Maybe I should take up karate.
Doc: That was before he took up karate.“
The Green Mile (1999)
Starring: Michael Clarke Duncan, Tom Hanks, David Morse
Guilty?: Total misunderstanding
Escape?: In a body bag 😦
Paul Edgecomb: What do you want me to do John? You want me to let you run out of here, see how far you can get?
John Coffey: Why would you do such a foolish thing?
Paul Edgecomb: On the day of my judgment, when I stand before God, and He asks me why did I kill one of his true miracles, what am I gonna say? That it was my job? My job?
I Love You Philip Morris (2009)
Starring: Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor, Leslie Mann
Guilty?: As sin
“Steven Russell: [introducing Arnie to prison] Anything you want from the outside, he’s the guy. Candy, cigarettes, drugs, whatever. He’s the guy. Just keep in mind, it’s gonna cost you a lot of money – or you could suck his dick. Your choice. You’re gonna catch a beatin’ any day now. That’s just the way it is. I lost three teeth, cracked a vertebra. Anyway, all you gotta do is fight back. Win or lose, just fight back – or you could try to suck the guy’s dick. Your choice.“
Starring: Brad Pitt, Dustin Hoffman, Brad Renfro, Robert De Niro
Guilty?: Prank gone wrong
Escape: Eventual release
“Lorenzo: A number of the inmates, as tough as they acted during the day, would often cry themself to sleep at night. There were other cries, too. Diffrent from those full with fear and lonelyness. They were low and muffled, the sounds of pain and anguish.Those cries can change the course of a life. They are cries that once heard, can never be erased from the memory. On this one night those cries belonged to my friend John, when guard Ferguson paid him a visit.”
Cool Hand Luke (1967)
Starring: Paul Newman, George Kennedy, Strother Martin
Guilty: Drunken misadventure
Escape: Failed with tragic consequences
“Captain, Road Prison 36: What we got here is… failure to communicate.“
Starring: Tom Hardy, Kelly Adams, Luing Andrews
Guilty?: Progressively more so
Escape: Still banged up
“Charles Bronson: [Real Life Charles Bronson Quote] How would you feel, waking up in the morning without a window? My window is a steel grid, I ‘ave to put my lips against that steel grid and suck in air, that’s my morning… ’cause I got no air in my cell. I have to eat, sleep and crap in that room twenty-three hours of a twenty-four hour day. You tell me, what human being deserves that? Apart from the stinking paedophile or a child killer. I don’t deserve that, I done nothing on this planet to deserve that. My bed is four inches off the floor, it’s a concrete bed, my toilet hasn’t even got a seat on it or a lid, and I ‘ave to live like this month after month after month, and the way it’s looking it’s year after year after year. Now is that’s right then so be, but let somebody else ‘ave a fucking go at it, ’cause I’ve had twenty-six years of this bollocks and it’s time to come out, and I want the jury at my trail to come and see how I’m living. But I’m not living, I’m existing.“
A Prophet (2009)
Starring: Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup, Adel Bencherif
Guilty?: Definitely the criminal element
“Jordi: When you get out, what’ll you do?
Malik El Djebena: I don’t know. You?
Jordi: Same thing as in here, only bigger.
Malik El Djebena: Hash?
Jordi: Yeah, hash. I’ll move big loads. Marbella-Paris, three cars. Six hundred kilos each trip.
Jordi: Don’t believe me?
Malik El Djebena: No, I’m just trying to picture six hundred kilos.
Jordi: It’s like this.
[Jordi holds hash up to his eyes]
Jordi: You can’t see anything behind it.“
American History X (1998)
Starring: Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, Ethan Suplee
Guilty?: Beyond a shadow of a doubt
Escape: Released for good behaviour
“Doris Vinyard: You think you’re the only one doin’ time, Derek? You think you’re here all alone? You think I’m not in here with you?”