» The Brig (1964, USA)

The Brig - New No. 5 prisoner (Henry Proach) is welcomed into by a guard, with No. 3 (x) in the background

This documentary-style film by Jonas Mekas is based on a play by Kenneth H Brown. A former Marine, Brown had himself spent thirty days in such a brig at Camp Fuji in Japan for being absent without leave; no doubt the film’s authentic feel can be traced back to those thirty days.

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Posted on April 26th, 2015 at 2:31 pm. Updated on April 26th, 2015 at 2:32 pm.

» Righteous Ties (2006, South Korea)

Righteous Ties - Jeong Jae-yeong as Dong Chi-sung

Just at the moment I can’t think of a more oddball prison movie; two parts serious gangster flick, one part comedy and one part farce. Does it work? Not entirely, but it’s three parts entertaining. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on April 11th, 2015 at 6:33 pm. Updated on April 11th, 2015 at 6:33 pm.

» You Can’t Get Away With Murder (1939, USA)

You Can't Get Away With Murder - Humphrey Bogart as Frank Wilson and Billy Halop as Johnnie Stone

I love the Wikipedia entry on Lewis E Lawes. It starts, “Lewis Edward Lawes was a prison warden and a proponent of prison reform. During his 21 year tenure at Sing Sing Correctional Facility, he supervised the executions of 303 prisoners.” That’s one way of doing prison reform, I guess. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on April 3rd, 2015 at 6:01 pm. Updated on April 3rd, 2015 at 6:05 pm.

» Furnace (2007, USA)

Furnace - Clay Steakley as Scags, his hands melting on the supernaturally heated bars of his cell

Why does a supernatural being, capable of passing through walls and furiously intent on avenging past horrors, wait until someone opens up its resting place before wreaking havoc on the world?  You won’t find the answer here. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on March 28th, 2015 at 8:57 pm. Updated on March 28th, 2015 at 9:19 pm.

» Zombie Death House (1988, USA)

Zombie Death House - Earl Johnson as Arthur Adams holding the head of Head Guard Raker (Howard George)

To say that this is the best prison zombie movie I’ve seen is not saying much. But it is, even if it doesn’t contain any zombies. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on March 16th, 2015 at 7:35 pm. Updated on March 16th, 2015 at 7:35 pm.

» Night Train (2007, China)

Night Train - Liu Dan as Wu Hongyan, supporting collapsed prisoner Zhang Lingling (Meng Haiyan) in court

This, I think, is the first movie I’ve put on this site that has absolutely nothing to do with prisons… although it does include a prisoner or two. I made the mistake, you see, of reading other reviews that suggested that it is about a prison guard who embarks on a relationship with a man who is the bereaved partner of a woman in whose execution she played a part. Not quite. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on March 9th, 2015 at 9:24 am. Updated on March 9th, 2015 at 9:24 am.

» Gaolbreak (1962, UK)

Gaolbreak - David Gregory as gaolbreaking Ron Wallis

It would be hard to imagine a movie called Gaolbreak with less prison content; we get to see a visit cubicle, the door to the visit cubicles, and the outside of the wall. That’s it. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on March 9th, 2015 at 8:55 am. Updated on March 9th, 2015 at 8:55 am.

» Born American (1986, USA / Finland)

Born American - from left, Steve Durham as Mitch, David Coburn as KC, Mike Norris as Savoy Brown, and a blonde extra

There are so many genres that Born American tries to cover, it’s exhausting. There’s the road-trip-that-goes-horribly-wrong movie, the patriotic, xenophobic Cold War movie, the prison fight club movie, and the old fashioned blow-up-the-bad-guys action movie… with a little romance (and some counterbalancing cynicism about world powers’ espionage agencies) thrown in for good measure. It finishes as a bit of a messy disaster on all counts. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on March 1st, 2015 at 4:50 pm. Updated on March 2nd, 2015 at 7:57 pm.

» Abashiri Bangaichi / The Walls of Abashiri Prison (1965, Japan)

The Walls of Abashiri Prison - Hirochi Nanbara as Gonda and Ken Takakura as Shin'ichi Tachibana

When I finally caught up with Abashiri Bangaichi I’d just seen Runaway Train (1985) - another film with two prisoners escaping through ice and snow and then engaging in communion with a train. This one has more snow, but a lot less train. And lots, lots more The Defiant Ones (1958). Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on February 24th, 2015 at 8:01 pm. Updated on February 24th, 2015 at 8:01 pm.

» Prison on Fire: Preacher (2002, Hong Kong)

Prison on Fire: Preacher - Michael Tiu Dai-Yue as Cheng Shing Fung

This has no connection to Prison on Fire (1987) or Prison on Fire 2 (1990) and, without putting too fine a point on it, is bland and tedious. Dull. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on February 21st, 2015 at 8:09 pm. Updated on February 21st, 2015 at 8:14 pm.