Account IconLogin|Sign Up
netflix
amazon_prime
hulu_plus
disney_plus
hbo
& more all in one place. Totally free to use!
Prison
arrow
AllAction & AdventureAnimationAnimeBiographyComedyCrimeCultDocumentaryDramaFamilyFantasyFoodHistoryHorrorLGBTQMusicalMysteryRomanceScience-FictionSportThrillerTravelAbout AfricaAdaptationAlienAnimalApocalypseBased on BooksBased On True StoryBoxingCarCartoonChristmasCollegeComic BookComing of AgeDanceDark ComedyDatingDisasterDoctorDogDrugDystopiaEgyptEscapeFashionFeel-goodFemale DirectorFightingFriendshipFuturisticGangGangsterGeniusGhostGolfGreeceHeroismHigh SchoolHolidayHuntingImaginationJungleKidnappingMagicMartial ArtsMatureMedievalMilitaryMonsterMusicNew YorkParisParodyPetPolicePoliticalPrincessPrisonPsychologyRacingReligionRevengeRiverRobotRomeRoyaltyScienceSerial KillerShortSingingSpaceSportsSpySuperheroSupernaturalSurvivalSuspenseTankTeacherTechnologyTeenTime TravelTwinsVampireVideo GamesWarWorld War IIWrestlingZombie
arrowarrow
Movies & TV Shows
arrow
Movies & TV ShowsMovies
Get recommendations and notifications when movies & shows come to your streaming services.
On
The Criterion Channel
arrow
Every Service
Every Service
Free Services
Free Services
Your Services
Your Services
Netflix
Netflix
Prime Video
Prime Video
HBO MAX
HBO MAX
HBO
HBO
Showtime
Showtime
Hulu
Hulu
Starz
Starz
Plex
Plex
Disney+
Disney+
Peacock Premium
Peacock Premium
Paramount+
Paramount+
Philo
Philo
fuboTV
fuboTV
Epix
Epix
DC Universe
DC Universe
Discovery+
Discovery+
AMC Premiere
AMC Premiere
AMC
AMC
BritBox
BritBox
Shudder
Shudder
The Criterion Channel
The Criterion Channel
Fandor
Fandor
Hoopla
Hoopla
Kanopy
Kanopy
Tubi
Tubi
PlutoTV
PlutoTV
Peacock
Peacock
Vudu
Vudu
IMDb TV
IMDb TV
PopcornFlix
PopcornFlix
Crackle
Crackle
AcornTV
AcornTV
Cinemax
Cinemax
Sundance
Sundance
TCM
TCM
ABC
ABC
A&E
A&E
NBC
NBC
USA
USA
Adult Swim
Adult Swim
TVision
TVision
arrowarrow
Want to Select more than one service? Add your services to your free Reelgood account to see everything you can watch!

The Best Prison Movies and TV Shows on The Criterion Channel

Finding a good Prison movie and TV show to watch can be hard, so we've ranked the best ones and included where to watch them. Check out our list of the best Prison movies and TV shows of all time streaming on The Criterion Channel.

VIEW: best
backdrop
shudder
criterion_channel

1. Escape from New York

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.2/10
Reelgood Logo
76/100
Released: 1981Rated: R
Science-Fiction, Action & Adventure

What it's about: In the future, crime is out of control and New York City's Manhattan is a maximum security prison. Grabbing a bargaining chip right out of the air, convicts bring down the President's plane in bad old Gotham. Gruff Snake Plissken, a one-eyed lone warrior new to prison life, is coerced into bringing the President, and his cargo, out of this land of undesirables.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a subscription service (Shudder & The Criterion Channel) & rent or buy from $3.99 on 5 services (iTunes, Google Play & 3 others).

backdrop
free
criterion_channel
plex_free

2. Hunger

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.5/10
Reelgood Logo
72/100
Released: 2008
Biography, Drama

What it's about: The story of Bobby Sands, the IRA member who led the 1981 hunger strike during The Troubles in which Irish Republican prisoners tried to win political status.

Where to Watch: Available to watch free online (Plex), stream on a subscription service (The Criterion Channel) & rent or buy from $3.99 on 1 service (iTunes).

backdrop
free
criterion_channel
hoopla
+ 3

3. Stalag 17

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
8.0/10
Reelgood Logo
72/100
Released: 1953
Drama

What it's about: It's a dreary Christmas 1944 for the American POWs in Stalag 17 and the men in Barracks 4, all sergeants, have to deal with a grave problem—there seems to be a security leak.

Where to Watch: Available to watch free online (Tubi, PlutoTV & The Roku Channel), stream on a subscription service (The Criterion Channel & Hoopla) & rent or buy from $2.99 on 6 services (iTunes, Google Play & 4 others).

backdrop
criterion_channel

4. Grand Illusion

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
8.1/10
Reelgood Logo
71/100
Released: 1937
Drama

What it's about: A group of French soldiers, including the patrician Captain de Boeldieu and the working-class Lieutenant Maréchal, grapple with their own class differences after being captured and held in a World War I German prison camp. When the men are transferred to a high-security fortress, they must concoct a plan to escape beneath the watchful eye of aristocratic German officer von Rauffenstein, who has formed an unexpected bond with de Boeldieu.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a subscription service (The Criterion Channel) & rent or buy from $3.99 on 4 services (iTunes, Google Play & 2 others).

backdrop
criterion_channel
kanopy

5. A Man Escaped

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
8.3/10
Reelgood Logo
69/100
Released: 1956
Thriller, Drama

What it's about: A captured French Resistance fighter during World War II engineers a daunting escape from prison.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a subscription service (The Criterion Channel & Kanopy) & rent or buy from $3.99 on 2 services (iTunes & Prime Video).

backdrop
hbo_max
criterion_channel
kanopy

6. Brute Force

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.6/10
Reelgood Logo
64/100
Released: 1947
Thriller, Drama

What it's about: Timeworn Joe Collins and his fellow inmates live under the heavy thumb of the sadistic, power-tripping guard Captain Munsey. Only Collins' dreams of escape keep him going, but how can he possibly bust out of Munsey's chains?

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a popular subscription service (HBO MAX, The Criterion Channel & Kanopy) & rent or buy from $3.99 on 2 services (iTunes & Prime Video).

backdrop
criterion_channel

7. Le Trou

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
8.5/10
Reelgood Logo
69/100
Released: 1960
Drama, Crime

What it's about: Four prison inmates have been hatching a plan to literally dig out of jail when another prisoner, Claude Gaspard, is moved into their cell. They take a risk and share their plan with the newcomer. Over the course of three days, the prisoners and friends break through the concrete floor using a bed post and begin to make their way through the sewer system -- yet their escape is anything but assured.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a subscription service (The Criterion Channel).

backdrop
hbo_max
criterion_channel
kanopy

8. Down by Law

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.7/10
Reelgood Logo
71/100
Released: 1986Rated: R
Comedy, Drama

What it's about: A disc jockey, a pimp and an Italian tourist escape from jail in New Orleans.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a popular subscription service (HBO MAX, The Criterion Channel & Kanopy) & rent or buy from $3.99 on 2 services (iTunes & Prime Video).

backdrop
criterion_channel

9. I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
8.2/10
Reelgood Logo
66/100
Released: 1932
Crime, Drama

What it's about: A World War I veteran’s dreams of becoming a master architect evaporate in the cold light of economic realities. Things get even worse when he’s falsely convicted of a crime and sent to work on a chain gang.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a subscription service (The Criterion Channel) & rent or buy from $1.99 on 5 services (iTunes, Google Play & 3 others).

backdrop
free
criterion_channel
youtube

10. Dillinger

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.0/10
Reelgood Logo
61/100
Released: 1973Rated: R
Crime, Action & Adventure

What it's about: After a shoot-out kills five FBI agents in Kansas City the Bureau target John Dillinger as one of the men to hunt down. Waiting for him to break Federal law they sort out several other mobsters, while Dillinger's bank robbing exploits make him something of a folk hero. Escaping from jail he finds Pretty Boy Floyd and Baby Face Nelson have joined the gang and pretty soon he is Public Enemy Number One. Now the G-men really are after him.

Where to Watch: Available to watch free online (YouTube), stream on a subscription service (The Criterion Channel) & rent or buy from $3.99 on 3 services (iTunes, Prime Video & Microsoft).

backdrop
criterion_channel

11. Le Deuxième Souffle

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.9/10
Reelgood Logo
62/100
Released: 1966
Crime, Drama

What it's about: A gangster escapes jail and quickly makes plans to continue his criminal ways elsewhere, but a determined inspector is closing in.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a subscription service (The Criterion Channel) & rent or buy from $2.99 on 4 services (iTunes, Google Play & 2 others).

backdrop
free
criterion_channel
kanopy
+ 1

12. King of New York

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.0/10
Reelgood Logo
70/100
Released: 1990Rated: R
Crime, Thriller

What it's about: A former drug lord returns from prison determined to wipe out all his competition and distribute the profits of his operations to New York's poor and lower classes in this stylish and ultra violent modern twist on Robin Hood.

Where to Watch: Available to watch free online (Plex), stream on a subscription service (The Criterion Channel & Kanopy) & rent or buy from $3.99 on 6 services (iTunes, Google Play & 4 others).

backdrop
amazon_prime
criterion_channel

13. The Valachi Papers

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
6.5/10
Reelgood Logo
58/100
Released: 1972Rated: R
Crime, Drama

What it's about: When Joe Valachi has a price put on his head by Don Vito Genovese, he must take desperate steps to protect himself while in prison. An unsuccessful attempt to slit his throat puts him over the edge to break the sacred code of silence.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a popular subscription service (Prime Video & The Criterion Channel).

backdrop
free
criterion_channel
kanopy
+ 2

14. Short Eyes

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.1/10
Reelgood Logo
55/100
Released: 1977Rated: R
Thriller, Drama

What it's about: A young man who is charged with child molestation is placed in New York City’s infamous Tombs prison. When the other inmates in his cell block find out what he is charged with, life becomes extremely difficult for him.

Where to Watch: Available to watch free online (Tubi), stream on a subscription service (The Criterion Channel, Kanopy & Shout Factory TV) & rent or buy from $1.99 on 1 service (Prime Video).

backdrop
criterion_channel

15. There Was a Crooked Man...

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
6.9/10
Reelgood Logo
58/100
Released: 1970Rated: R
Comedy

What it's about: Arizona Territorial Prison inmate Paris Pitman, Jr. is a schemer, a charmer, and quite popular among his fellow convicts — especially with $500,000 in stolen loot hidden away and a plan to escape and recover it. New warden Woodward Lopeman has other ideas about Pitman. Each man will have the tables turned on him.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a subscription service (The Criterion Channel) & rent or buy from $2.99 on 5 services (iTunes, Google Play & 3 others).

backdrop
criterion_channel

16. Insiang

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.5/10
Reelgood Logo
54/100
Released: 1976
Comedy, Drama

What it's about: A young woman raped by her mother's new boyfriend finds a new way to exact revenge.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a subscription service (The Criterion Channel).

backdrop
criterion_channel

17. Scrubbers

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
5.6/10
Reelgood Logo
39/100
Released: 1982Rated: R
Thriller, Drama

What it's about: Two girls escape from an open borstal for two very different reasons; Annetta to attempt to visit her baby daughter, who is being raised in a convent; and Carol, who hopes to be recaptured and sent to a closed borstal where she knows her girlfriend Doreen is being held. Carol's plan works, although she is devastated to find that not only has Doreen found herself a new girlfriend inside (who both taunt and tease Carol), when Annetta is arrested at the convent and sent to the same closed borstal, she assumes it was Carol who "grassed" her up and proceeds to plan her revenge. Carol finds protection in the form of inmate Eddie, while Annetta's constant bullying attempts keep her in solitary confinement; however, Carol's world is turned upside-down when Eddie is released from borstal and her protection is gone... Written by Rhino

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a subscription service (The Criterion Channel).

backdrop
criterion_channel

18. Gods of the Plague

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
6.5/10
Reelgood Logo
59/100
Released: 1970
Crime, Drama

What it's about: A man is released from prison and finds the society on the outside less than appealing. With several women as well as the police on his tail, he sets out to find an old friend.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a subscription service (The Criterion Channel).

backdrop
hbo_max
criterion_channel

19. L'Argent

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.5/10
Reelgood Logo
64/100
Released: 1983
Crime, Drama

What it's about: A forged 500-franc note is passed from person to person and shop to shop, until it falls into the hands of a genuine innocent who doesn't see it for what it is - which will have devastating consequences on his life, causing him to turn to crime and murder.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a popular subscription service (HBO MAX & The Criterion Channel) & rent or buy from $2.99 on 2 services (Prime Video & Vudu).

backdrop
hbo_max
criterion_channel

20. Victim

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.7/10
Reelgood Logo
67/100
Released: 1961
Crime, LGBTQ

What it's about: In early 1960s London, barrister Melville Farr is on the path to success. With his practice winning cases and a loving marriage to his wife, Farr's career and personal life are nearly idyllic. However, when blackmailers link Farr to a young gay man, everything Farr has worked for is threatened. As it turns out, Farr is a closeted homosexual -- which is problematic, due to Britain's anti-sodomy laws. But instead of giving in, Farr decides to fight.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a popular subscription service (HBO MAX & The Criterion Channel) & rent or buy from $3.99 on 2 services (iTunes & Prime Video).

Find the perfect movie or tv show with the Reelgood mobile app.