Poll Suggestion: Favorite Prison Movies

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Which of these prison movies is your favorite?

https://www.imdb.com/list/ls049012882/
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Paok-Kilkis

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Posted 5 months ago

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Breumaster

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I guess there were several prison polls before, but my suggestion would be:
'Le trou' (1960)
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0054407/

I already know the winner of this run: 'Shawshank Redemption'. I would exclude it, but mention it in the intro. Else you will have a large bar on the top of the results, some smaller in the middle and maybe 2 or three zeros at the bottom of the results. Shawshank is to mighty, it will grab too many votes. Just my prediction. ;D
(Edited)
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Paok-Kilkis

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'Le trou' (1960) added
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Paok-Kilkis

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15yearsIMDber

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Not sure about some inclusions, "American History X" has a prison segment but so does "Goodfellas", "Oldboy", "White Heat" or "A Clockwork Orange"

I think you're missing great classics that really focus on prisoners:

Grand Illusion
Midnight Express
A Prophet
In the Name of the Father
Birdman of Alcatraz
Brubaker
Each Dawn I Die
i am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang
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Breumaster

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'American History X' has a prison segment which is very important for the story. 
And it's not only 5 minutes. 'American History X' focuses on the redemption of the character because of his experiences in prison.
(Edited)
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Breumaster

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I think 'A Clockwork Orange' is also a good prison movie, which shows up critic about a thinkable system that tries to change people by medication and mindbreaking therapies in a extreme form of brainwashing. It shows that such methods would only break the person, but wouldn't make him or her a better person. So it is a form of critic on people which think they can change people to whatever they want in form of a prison story. But maybe the term "prison movie" has to be stated more precisely.

If it's only focusing straight about prison and no other things around that matter, I would say: Yes, both shouldn't be on the list.
(Edited)
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15yearsIMDber

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But the prison part in X is perhaps its weakest point... make you feel like all it took was a few jokes and then the Nazi ice was melted... I know theres the rape too but the transition wasnt really well executed in my opinion.
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Breumaster

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Disagree, because it wasn't just the rape and the jokes. The main character had a full evolved mindset about how the world should work in his head. And he was straight about that. He had the full brothership white aryan bullsh*t in his head and the consideration that all Nazis like him are the supreme race. In Prison he got a view on his "brothers". They dealt with drugs, specially with the mexicans, etc. They weren't better than any other bad guy so he stood alone and changed his mind, the rape was just the peak of his downfall. But he crumbled inside a few times before. His Nazi life got cracks time by time he faced his brothers doing things they shouldn't in his opinion. The circumstances in prison were like a grinder for his hurt and disfigured soul. The death of his father triggert him first to be the same racist, reality in Prison slowly sat him back to normal state by experiencing his "brothers" "authenticity" and "loyalty".
(Edited)
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15yearsIMDber

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I think the problem is with the script, It took more than three hours for Spike Lee to make us root for "Malcolm X" and he wasn't as bad as Derek Vinyard. So to make the 'character study' work on a two-hour format, the director had to adopt the anti-racist angle so that the whole deconstruction of Derek's personality shows him more as a victim, a puppet of racism rather than the true and condemnable perpetrator of racist acts. And this is a dangerous intellectual shortcut contradicting the idea that we're all determined by acts committed in a responsible way. It's like the point was to make the bad guy look like a good guy with bad ideas.

Derek  knew what he was doing as a skinhead leader but then the film shows him as a good kid with a good heart who let himself absorbed by racial prejudices as soon as his father was killed by black people... and the movie pretends to display a crucial plot twist through one scene where the prejudices of Derek's father foreshadows his descent into racism. Even in the dinner scene, Derek exposes his views with such confidence that we're tempted to root for the core of his ideas (cleared of course from their blatantly racist overtones) and then, all of a sudden, as to destroy all the interrogations the scene just constructed, Derek acts like a one-dimensional evil thug, concluding in an anti-Semitic rant against Elliott Gould's character, proudly showing his tattoo. So Derek is not the racist with a heart full of anger whose seeds was planted in the field of 'legitimate' frustration anymore, he's just a bright kid whose charisma and rhetoric made him the spokesman of a Neo-Nazi group.

My problem with "American History X" is that the film evokes the manipulative effect of racist theories, and yet in the same time, it uses the same rhetoric tricks as an anti-racism film : when you can't reply by constructive words, just create the offense and show the tattoo, and it's made easier when Derek is the offender. I really want to quote Gould asking Derek "What are you trying to prove?"  Nothing, apart that he's a real ******* at that point. There was no reason for that display of hatred except for shock value and to make us lose any sympathy toward him, and that's how it works in the prison segment.

What happens in the shower scene is simply Derek being given a taste of his own medicine. Since the story couldn't find a better catalyst to his evolution and the growing friendship with the laundry guy wasn't enough, they went for the extreme offense. Derek has to "divorce" with his Nazi affiliations but the story needs a pivotal moment. So the rape scene plays exactly like the "tattoo" moment, it's gratuitous, it might be the effect to a cause, but it's the easy choice as far as the social comment on the roots of racism goes. Derek showed how bad he was at the dinner because he was a Nazi, his Nazi friends showed him the same thing in the shower. It's like "me act bad because me right" and then "us act bad because us right". Quite a superficial take on racism.

Yes, racism is only the way some people choose to ignore their own responsibilities and point their fingers on other communities but this is how the anti-racist stance of the film operates, by portraying Derek as a victim of unfortunate circumstances or trivializing racism by making it something just "mean" and "stupid", nothing "mean" and "stupid" can have such devastating effects, racism is ugly because it relies on manipulative intelligence, on a way to distort the truth, to inspire hatred in the name of reason or pragmatism, to turn realism into a form of cynical lucidity and to make violence look like the lesser of two evils. That's how racism felt in the first part of the film, but for me, it fell apart with the tattoo moment and the prison segment, the film had noble intentions but too noble for its own credibility.



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Breumaster

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No, Derek wasn't portrayed only as a victim of his circumstances. He also was portrayed an an ice cold murderer at the beginning. He went to prison justly. When you look at these things like kkk and so on - there are always some strong leaders and many people who follow. They always pick up weak but talented people to controll other people in the group. Individuals can be weak at one point but strong at another point. The power of the word and the expression is still underestimated. Hitler himself held speeches with no real content, but in a fervent. and passionate expression. In real Derek was very weak. He only grew with the acceptance of his group, which is gathered easy by him.

So many people followed him. Derek believed to be on the right side, because he pretended it so hard to himself. When something so hard happens like a family member dies, that can happen to a weak character. He searched for a guilty person and projected his inner hate to a whole group of people. It's simply the most easy thing to go that way. That's only one way how racism works. Every "gangmember" around Derek had his own problems. The hate is the only thing where they match. Hating is easy, finding better solutions is hard. That's why such groups mostly have no solution for their inner problems, except extreme behavior like shown in the movie. As I remember, the movie works partly in flashbacks.

When his believe into his own righteousness crumbled in prison, he himself crumbled inside. The rape was just the last trigger to be completely shattered. He simply wasn't as hard as he pretended to himself. He had to learn that his way is wrong and he had to change it.

I think 'American History X' is a great movie. It shows that no matter how hard one pretends to himself to be, there is always someone harder, weirder, bader. And being good at one thing and enjoying great popularity about it by the buddys around doesn't automatically mean, to be a good and righteous person. Some have to face that by law and some will never learn.
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Paok-Kilkis

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All the suggestions added!
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Paok-Kilkis

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All the suggestions added!
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15yearsIMDber

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I think we saw the same thing, that's what I meant when I said that he got a taste of his own medicine... since you brought up the case of Hitler, I guess you can draw a similar parallel with Rohm who wasn't a better fellow but who was also "sacrificed" by the Nazis when they saw him as a threat or a weakling. The guy and his men were brutally eliminated although they pledged allegiance to the party.

Maybe I'm too harsh on the film because it does raise some relevant questions about racism, I just wish it wasn't that superficial (for lack of a better word) in Derek's character arc, especially his path to redemption. Maybe I was so focused on Derek (you've got to hand it to Norton's outstanding performance) whereas the film was more of a study on racism rather than Derek himself. I think I couldn't get over the curb stomping thing, Derek has lost me at that point and nothing could possibly redeem him in my opinion, of course, he was a "better" man when he got out of jail, but given the crime that put him there in the first place, for me he had already reached a no return point.

SPOILERS

Maybe the final killing was the kind of "immanent" justice that closed his arc, that's pretty ugly a statement because Daniel didn't deserve what he got, but Derek had to know what it meant to lose someone dear like those who lost the man he killed. Maybe the film should have shown whether Derek would have stayed the same after that ultimate test for Karma or surrendered to 'hatred' again... the interrogation mark can be an interesting way to end a story, but in regard to the statement the film makes about racism, I wish we could have a final idea on Derek's mindset after tragedy struck him.
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Breumaster

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Well, Elmo. That's a harsh view on Derek. The character is still a former prisoner that has completed his sentence. (Sorry I have no better words for it). In sake of peace and harmony his guilt was proven, but he also is redeemed by law after his punishment. In this case the character had to "taste his own medicine" - what ever this means, because Derek raped no one. He had a mirror in prison which showed him the truth about his inner setting. This mirror were his "brothers".

He had to double-learn at the end, because he saw to what all this violence he himself spreaded leads. He lost his beloved brother - violence causes violence. So he had a second and maybe more bad and harder punishment. Racism can be on both sides. None of them is good!

You know how you turn bad people to good people? By experience, by contact in any form and by keeping quitters safe from their old "brothers". In G we have several quitter programms for people like this which turned around after learning their lesson. They get new identities, names, places where they life, and, and, and. But the worst and most bad part is to clear their mind from racist state to normal without brain-washing. It's much work to convince someone about the fact, that his way is wrong. The movie showed that in a shorter form, else it would have a playtime about 3 or 3,5  hours.

I like the story like it is, even though it has long jumps in time. The prison time is strongly shortened, but I think it's good, they concentrated it to the little daily scenes that reveal enough about his environment in prison and then the cruel conclusion.

Don't forget the flashbacks. As I think I remember, the dinner scene with Derek showing his swastica to his stepfather was a flashback - before his experience in prison. But you know what? I will watch that movie again, soon. maybe I can explain better then. I guess I watched it 8 years ago. It might be that I have not all proper in mind.

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15yearsIMDber

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I wish I could have your interpretation of the svastika scene because as I said, it's one of these moments that I wish it was done differently.

See, when they broke up into that grocery store (or was it a mini market?) and they humiliated that Mexican lady, it was a brutal and disturbing moment, illustrating the ugliness of racism, but while Derek was in command , he didn't touch the woman and it didn't look like something he would have done anyway... not saying the guy had a code of honor but the thing looked so 'raw', so disgusting it served to show that behind his eloquence and charisma, Derek brought up the worst of people, that this was all bull*****. 

Now, during the dinner, the same thing happens, Derek's speech, if not articulate, is consistent in the way he quickly finds counter-arguments, he strikes as a quick mind with extreme political views but that could incidentally shake a dubious mind, he might have a point or too (by the way, what he says in the beginning can be found in any Youtube comment in not-so controversial videos) and then it's like the director needed an incident: Derek had to attack his sister, he had to show his tattoo, and it was like the whole discussion was just a facade and Derek said "the hell with it!", then Derek who didn't technically lose the debate almost throws a towel by proudly harboring his svastika as his last word.

Maybe the film wanted so much to handle the issue of racism from the scope of these neofascist skinhead groups that it forgot about the sneakiest forms of racism, when it's not displayed through violence but through words and ideas, when the perpetrator of racism plays the accuser, maybe that was the point of the basketball scene after all, because it's the one moment where the bad guys win in a puzzlingly "clean" way, I just wish the film was more subtle at some moments and cared for the viewers more than the story itself. Of course, if you make a film about racism, you're supposed to side against it, if you're going to play in this turf, you've got to do it responsibly. It's like the director was too responsible for the film's own good.

The 'market' attack was bad enough, and it was only a "foretaste" to the curb stomping moment, did we need another scene that concludes with a blatant "see how racism is bad" note? Derek's mother would have kicked him off the house anyway so he could have been the same scary hateful dude just by going on his racist rant... but no, it had to end with a moment that almost tells the viewer "remember, he's the bad guy, don't think too much of him", I found it a bit patronizing as if the script didn't trust our intelligence and capability to take some perspective.
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Breumaster

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But it also is a movie that shows up, that these guys are not that big or strong as they think. Dealing on the dangerous ground like these guys do is not only dangerous for their  environment (the black/foreigner community). It's as dangerous for them as for the people around, who don't want to deal with this. The social isolation of these people brings the most danger! It's like when you suppress toothache. You can hold it a while, maybe you take painkillers, but the problem will come back more bad and more serious. Social inclusion is the weapon bad leaders fear the most. Their subordinates could turn human and all their lies are void. It's not a fast action. On those problem there are so many people working. Social workers, probation officers, ... it takes time. Movies do their part to look at the problems. There are some movies linked to that field. Two of them:
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1063669/
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1890373/
(Edited)
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https://getsatisfaction.com/imdb/topics/the-best-prison-movies
Poll Suggestion: The Best Prison Movies

What is the best prison movies?

List: https://www.imdb.com/list/ls073192325/

28 titles


Le Trou
A Man Escaped
Tatar Ramazan
Starred Up
The Shawshank Redemption
Escape Plan
The Green Mile
Stalag 17
The Bridge on the River Kwai
A Prophet
I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang
Shutter Island
Cool Hand Luke
The Great Escape
Hunger
The Wall
American History X
Escape from Alcatraz
Camp X-Ray
Don't Let Them Shoot the Kite
The Passion of Joan of Arc
Birdman of Alcatraz
Brute Force
King of Devil's Island
Shot Caller
Down by Law
Cell 211
Papillon

by ilyas Kutlu
Posted 3 weeks ago
.

(Edited)
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dgranger

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I agree with everyone that this has been done before. But every year a new film comes out that makes the idea of a poll about this subject renewable (for lack of a better term).
However, I would suggest to remove “The Great Escape” and “Stalag 17” because they are prisoner of war camp movies and there is a difference between the two movies. I think a movie about concentration camps like “Schindler’s List”, and “Empire Of The Sun” might be fine.
- I would suggest replacing the Adam Sandler “The Longest Yard” and use the older Bert Reynolds 1974 version which was higher rated.
If you want to take this into a different angle, sci fy prisons f the future, I believe “Minority Report”, “Demolition Man”, “Judge Dredd” , “The Chronicles Of Riddick” , and “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” all have segments of a futuristic prison. And to stretch farther, “The Matrix”.
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Breumaster

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I understand that from your point of view. But please let me tell you that the concentration camps run by Germany weren't prisons at all. They were simply one way facilities to death. From normal prisons a prisoner can be released by law. In German concentratation camps there was no way out. If the alied wouldn't have freed Germany from it's regime, all would have faced death without an exception. The camps were like a forecourt to death and oblivion. Even prisoners in war prisons can have hope to be released some times later. But the German plan was the final extermination of all jewish life and all "unworthy" life, which had a very flexible meaning. They've also put in homosexuals, Gypsys, people of  political opposition and all they considered as unworthy based on crude Nazi-sciences rules. One didn't have to break rules or the law to get interned into such a camp. There are criminals in any kind of moiety, but mostly all of the jews that were interned were innocent. So I wouldn't consider the concentration camps as war prisons, they were more like the forecourt of a slaughterhouse run by an insane regime.
(Edited)
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dgranger

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Understood. Thank you, Breumaster. It is always good to learn. No concentration camp movies on this list.
I was thinking about the science fiction movies with prison for a awhil after I had posted and was trying the save it for later because I have work to do now. But there was sentiment that you had posted, “One didn't have to break rules or the law to get interned into such a camp.” drew my mind right back to the subject. In “Minority Report”, people were getting arrested not for what they have done, but for what they may be thinking. Talk about thought police!
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Breumaster

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I read that in G there was some Software tested to prevent crime. It's based on statistics of former burglaries and calculates the probabilities to get burglared pro place and pro time. So the police can be more present at that places and times. It's not the same like in the movie, but the same direction. I thinks it's the right way.

The scenario of 'Minority Report' reaches too far. It's not ok to be convicted for something one didn't do. But maybe the try should be convicted. So there could be lower sentences. That would be the moderate way. So to say:
"in flagranti ante supplicium"

Sorry for being so upper pedantic about concentration camps, but for most people in G the concentration camps are a big shame. I learned about it in school and was instantly ashamed about what happened in our country and all around Europe that time. I'm not guilty about what happened there, but I'm in charge to never forget.
(Edited)
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dgranger

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You don’t need to apologize. The shame went beyond the borders. All branches of my family were in America well before WW2. My father, who was of German and Irish decent, (my mother was all German), my father had started to claim he was all Irish and started to deny he was part German because shame from the news reaching the U.S.A. of what Hitler and the Nazis were doing. I told my father to stop doing that and start taking pride in all the good thinks Germans had brought to America and become ingrained our culture, besides beer, which is the most famous. For example: the covered wagon which is so much a part of the history of U.S.A.’s western expansion, and the Christmas (and Christmas tree ornaments too), some of the finest cars in the world, and a German piano builder Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg (later known as Henry E. Steinway of “Steinway and Sons” grand pianos).
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Breumaster

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Yes. We better lean on the very positive things of our countrys before and after. :D
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Ed Jones (XLIX)

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Con Air
(1997)
It is about prisoners. But not Prison.

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Paok-Kilkis

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Con Air deleted
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Nikolay Yeriomin (Mykola Yeromin), Champion

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Ed Jones (XLIX), which is funny, because popular Russian alternate title translates as "Air Prison". :)

Paok-Kilkis, your comment was somehow caught in the spam filter. 
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Ed Jones (XLIX)

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FYC


Brubaker (1980)


Attica (1980) (TV Movie)


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Ed Jones (XLIX)

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(Edited)
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Breumaster

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'Fortress' was a good movie. It was banned in G, but I hope it will be erased from the banning lists soon. I viewed it in the early 90's on VHS before it got banned.
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Breumaster

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Oh, I just read in 2017 the uncut version was released. So it's off the list. :D
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Ed Jones (XLIX)

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Yes it was good. I have not seen it either since 1995.
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Nikolay Yeriomin (Mykola Yeromin), Champion

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Fortress blew me away in the late 90's. A very well-paced sci-fi thriller with some interesting concepts.
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Paok-Kilkis

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Added, thanks!
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Breumaster

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If there was one more option, i would have suggested 'Lock Up', which was a pretty nasty prison movie with Sylvester Stallone and Donald Sutherland.
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097770/

And there was anotherone called 'Tango and Cash'. But that wasn't realy good, even though it was popular for some time for action fans. It also was not really about prison. The prison thing was more for pushing a crude story.
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0098439/

I just linked it for remembering. ;)
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Breumaster

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If there was one more option, i would have suggested 'Lock Up', which was a pretty nasty prison movie with Sylvester Stallone and Donald Sutherland.
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097770/

And there was anotherone called 'Tango and Cash'. But that wasn't realy good, even though it was popular for some time for action fans. It also was not really about prison. The prison thing was more for pushing a crude story.
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0098439/

I just linked it for remembering. ;)
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Yudhistira Bayu

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For me Papilon is still the great prison movies. Even the remake in 2017 also:
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5093026/
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Gitte Løyche

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Well, since you have predicted the winner, I might as well join in saying 'Shawshank Redemption'!
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Nikolay Yeriomin (Mykola Yeromin), Champion

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I have a feeling with so much heavy-hitters in the list they will occupy the top spots... But that won't stop me from suggesting personal favorites. :) 

FYC: 
Mean Guns (1997) (I really hope that it counts, since, well, prison is the main setting and symbolic point, even if not yet opened)
The Running Man (1987) (main plot of the film begins with a prison break)
Runaway Train (1985)
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Paok-Kilkis

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Added, thanks!
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riverotter

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no The Great Escape????
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Paok-Kilkis

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I originally had The Great Escape in the list, but dgranger suggested to remove it because they are prisoner of war camp and it's different.
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dgranger

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The largely unknown “There was a Crooked Man” - a western.
- half of “The Dark Knight Rises” takes place in a prison.
While I had said that this list has been done before but since new films appear every year that this list can be done again and again, I going to show you how you can do variation of this and give it a new twist - What Is the Worst Prison In Science-Fiction or Fantasy movies You Don’t Want Be An Inmate Of?”
It will include prisons from and a crossover of six in this list
- “Escape from New York”
- “Escape From L.A.”
- “A Clockwork Orange”
- “The Running Man”
- “Death race”
- “Fortress”
Not on your list
- Askisaban from Harry Potter
- Black gate and Peña Duro (Of Santa Prisca) from “The Dark Knight Rises”
- Crematoria from “The Chronicles Of Riddick”
- both “the Temple” ( Yeah, the chamber of the pre-cogs is a prison if they can’t leave it.) and Department Of Containment from “Minority Report”
- the prison in “Demolition Man”
- “Star Trek 6: The Undiscovered Country” Rura Penthe
- Bell island in “Suicide Squad”
- I don’t know the name of it, but the prison in “Captain America: Civil War”
- The prison in “Judge Dredd”
And last but not least, the updated Debtors prison, known as I.O.I. Loyalty Centers, in “Ready Player One”.
All of them are hellholes.
(Edited)
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Paok-Kilkis

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There was a Crooked Man and The Dark Knight Rises added to the list. As for some other films you suggested I prefer not to include them because they have very limited time in prison. Thanks anyway, cheers!
(Edited)
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Paok-Kilkis

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bump
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Paok-Kilkis

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bump
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James The Movie Guy

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FYC- Brawl in Cell Block 99
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Paok-Kilkis

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Added, thanks!
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riverotter

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suggestion  The Great Escape
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Paok-Kilkis

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The Great Escape is a war camp movie
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Arkas16

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Paok-Kilkis

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bump
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Paok-Kilkis

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My vote: Cool Hand Luke