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The Best Prison Movies and TV Shows on HBO MAX

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 HBO MAX.

VIEW: best
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1. American History X

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
8.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes Logo83%
Reelgood Logo
92/100
Released: 1998Rated: R
Drama

What it's about: Derek Vineyard is paroled after serving 3 years in prison for killing two thugs who tried to break into/steal his truck. Through his brother, Danny Vineyard's narration, we learn that before going to prison, Derek was a skinhead and the leader of a violent white supremacist gang that committed acts of racial crime throughout L.A. and his actions greatly influenced Danny. Reformed and fresh out of prison, Derek severs contact with the gang and becomes determined to keep Danny from going down the same violent path as he did.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a popular subscription service (HBO MAX) & rent or buy from $3.99 on 6 services (iTunes, Google Play & 4 others).

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2. Cool Hand Luke

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
8.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes Logo100%
Reelgood Logo
87/100
Released: 1967Rated: PG
Crime, Drama

What it's about: When petty criminal Luke Jackson is sentenced to two years in a Florida prison farm, he doesn't play by the rules of either the sadistic warden or the yard's resident heavy, Dragline, who ends up admiring the new guy's unbreakable will. Luke's bravado, even in the face of repeated stints in the prison's dreaded solitary confinement cell, "the box," make him a rebel hero to his fellow convicts and a thorn in the side of the prison officers.

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

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3. The Night Of

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
8.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes Logo94%
Reelgood Logo
85/100
Year: 2016-2020Rated: TV-MASeasons: 1
Drama, Crime

What it's about: After a night of partying with a female stranger, a man wakes up to find her stabbed to death and is charged with her murder.

Where to Watch: 8 episodes (100%) are available to stream on a popular subscription service (HBO MAX & HBO). 8 episodes (100%) are available to stream on a popular TV everywhere service (HBO). 8 episodes (100%) are available to rent or buy from $2.99 on 5 services (iTunes, Google Play & 3 others).

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4. Fast Five

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes Logo77%
Reelgood Logo
84/100
Released: 2011Rated: PG-13
Action & Adventure, Crime

What it's about: Former cop Brian O'Conner partners with ex-con Dom Toretto on the opposite side of the law. Since Brian and Mia Toretto broke Dom out of custody, they've blown across many borders to elude authorities. Now backed into a corner in Rio de Janeiro, they must pull one last job in order to gain their freedom.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a popular subscription service (HBO MAX & HBO), stream on a popular TV everywhere service (HBO) & rent or buy from $3.99 on 6 services (iTunes, Google Play & 4 others).

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5. Chicago

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes Logo86%
Reelgood Logo
83/100
Released: 2002Rated: PG-13
Drama, Musical

What it's about: Murderesses Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart find themselves on death row together and fight for the fame that will keep them from the gallows in 1920s Chicago.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a popular subscription service (HBO MAX, Showtime & Hoopla), stream on a popular TV everywhere service (Showtime) & rent or buy from $2.99 on 5 services (iTunes, Google Play & 3 others).

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6. Megamind

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Logo72%
Reelgood Logo
82/100
Released: 2010Rated: PG
Action & Adventure, Children

What it's about: Bumbling supervillain Megamind finally defeats his nemesis, the superhero Metro Man. But without a hero, he loses all purpose and must find new meaning to his life.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a popular subscription service (HBO MAX) & rent or buy from $3.99 on 6 services (iTunes, Google Play & 4 others).

Have You Seen?
TV
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7. Oz

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
8.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Logo89%
Reelgood Logo
82/100
Year: 1997-2020Rated: TV-MASeasons: 6
Drama, Crime

What it's about: The daily lives of prisoners in Emerald City, an experimental unit of the Oswald Maximum Security Prison where ingroups - Muslims, Latinos, Italians, Aryans - stick close to their mutual friends and terrorizes their mutual enemies.

Where to Watch: 56 episodes (100%) are available to stream on a popular subscription service (HBO MAX & HBO). 56 episodes (100%) are available to stream on a popular TV everywhere service (HBO). 56 episodes (100%) are available to rent or buy from $1.99 on 6 services (iTunes, Google Play & 4 others).

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8. La Strada

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
8.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes Logo97%
Reelgood Logo
82/100
Released: 1954
Drama

What it's about: When Gelsomina, a naïve young woman, is purchased from her impoverished mother by brutish circus strongman Zampanò to be his wife and partner, she loyally endures her husband's coldness and abuse as they travel the Italian countryside performing together. Soon Zampanò must deal with his jealousy and conflicted feelings about Gelsomina when she finds a kindred spirit in Il Matto, the carefree circus fool, and contemplates leaving Zampanò.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a popular subscription service (HBO MAX, The Criterion Channel & Kanopy).

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9. Bringing Up Baby

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes Logo93%
Reelgood Logo
82/100
Released: 1938
Comedy, Romance

What it's about: David Huxley is waiting to get a bone he needs for his museum collection. Through a series of strange circumstances, he meets Susan Vance, and the duo have a series of misadventures which include a leopard called Baby.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a popular subscription service (HBO MAX) & rent or buy from $2.99 on 6 services (iTunes, Google Play & 4 others).

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10. The English Patient

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Logo85%
Reelgood Logo
81/100
Released: 1996Rated: R
Drama, Romance

What it's about: In the 1930s, Count Almásy is a Hungarian map maker employed by the Royal Geographical Society to chart the vast expanses of the Sahara Desert along with several other prominent explorers. As World War II unfolds, Almásy enters into a world of love, betrayal, and politics.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a popular subscription service (HBO MAX & HBO), stream on a popular TV everywhere service (HBO) & rent or buy from $2.99 on 5 services (iTunes, Google Play & 3 others).

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11. Down by Law

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Logo87%
Reelgood Logo
80/100
Released: 1986Rated: R
Comedy, Crime

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).

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12. Half Nelson

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Logo90%
Reelgood Logo
79/100
Released: 2006Rated: R
Drama

What it's about: Despite his dedication to the junior-high students who fill his classroom, idealistic teacher Dan Dunne leads a secret life of addiction that the majority of his students will never know. But things change when a troubled student Drey makes a startling discovery of his secret life, causing a tenuous bond between the two that could either end disastrously or provide a catalyst of hope.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a popular subscription service (HBO MAX & HBO) & stream on a popular TV everywhere service (HBO).

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13. Body Heat

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Logo98%
Reelgood Logo
79/100
Released: 1981Rated: R
Crime, Drama

What it's about: In the midst of a searing Florida heat wave, a woman convinces her lover, a small-town lawyer, to murder her rich husband.

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

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14. A Perfect World

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Logo79%
Reelgood Logo
79/100
Released: 1993Rated: PG-13
Drama, Crime

What it's about: A kidnapped boy strikes up a friendship with his captor: an escaped convict on the run from the law, headed by an honorable U.S. Marshal.

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

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15. He Got Game

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
6.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes Logo81%
Reelgood Logo
78/100
Released: 1998Rated: R
Drama, Independent

What it's about: A basketball player's father must try to convince him to go to a college so he can get a shorter sentence.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a popular subscription service (HBO MAX & HBO), stream on a popular TV everywhere service (HBO) & rent or buy from $2.99 on 5 services (iTunes, Google Play & 3 others).

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16. Hairspray

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
6.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes Logo98%
Reelgood Logo
76/100
Released: 1988Rated: PG
Comedy, Romance

What it's about: 'Pleasantly Plump' teenager Tracy Turnblad achieves her dream of becoming a regular on the Corny Collins Dance Show. Now a teen hero, she starts using her fame to speak out for the causes she believes in, most of all integration. In doing so, she earns the wrath of the show's former star, Amber Von Tussle, as well as Amber's manipulative, pro-segregation parents. The rivalry comes to a head as Amber and Tracy vie for the title of Miss Auto Show 1963.

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

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17. Brute Force

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Logo91%
Reelgood Logo
73/100
Released: 1947
Crime, 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).

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18. Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes Logo69%
Reelgood Logo
73/100
Released: 1989Rated: R
Comedy, Crime

What it's about: Recently released from a mental hospital, Ricky ties up Marina, a film star he once had sex with and keeps her hostage.

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).

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19. Stakeout

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
6.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Logo88%
Reelgood Logo
71/100
Released: 1987Rated: R
Comedy, Thriller

What it's about: Two cops are given the 'dirty' job of staking out the home of an escaped convict's ex-girlfriend. Chris and the beautiful girlfriend accidentally meet and fall in love. Just as Chris' confesses, the convict appears, but will she betray him ?

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a popular subscription service (HBO MAX & HBO), stream on a popular TV everywhere service (HBO) & rent or buy from $2.99 on 5 services (iTunes, Google Play & 3 others).

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20. The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Logo73%
Reelgood Logo
70/100
Released: 1962
Drama, Sport

What it's about: A rebellious youth, sentenced to a boy's reformatory for robbing a bakery, rises through the ranks of the institution through his prowess as a long distance runner. During his solitary runs, reveries of his life and times before his incarceration lead him to re-evaluate his privileged status as the Governor's prize runner.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a popular subscription service (HBO MAX), stream on a TV everywhere service (TCM) & rent or buy from $1.99 on 6 services (iTunes, Google Play & 4 others).

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21. The Longest Yard

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
6.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Logo31%
Reelgood Logo
69/100
Released: 2005Rated: PG-13
Comedy, Crime

What it's about: Pro quarter-back, Paul Crewe and former college champion and coach, Nate Scarboro are doing time in the same prison. Asked to put together a team of inmates to take on the guards, Crewe enlists the help of Scarboro to coach the inmates to victory in a football game 'fixed' to turn out quite another way.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a popular subscription service (HBO MAX), stream on a popular TV everywhere service (TNT) & rent or buy from $2.99 on 5 services (iTunes, Google Play & 3 others).

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22. U.S. Marshals

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
6.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Logo26%
Reelgood Logo
67/100
Released: 1998Rated: PG-13
Action & Adventure, Crime

What it's about: U.S. Marshal Sam Gerard is accompanying a plane load of convicts from Chicago to New York. The plane crashes spectacularly, and Mark Sheridan escapes. But when Diplomatic Security Agent John Royce is assigned to help Gerard recapture Sheridan, it becomes clear that Sheridan is more than just another murderer.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a popular subscription service (HBO MAX) & rent or buy from $0.99 on 5 services (iTunes, Google Play & 3 others).

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23. Ricochet

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
6.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Logo72%
Reelgood Logo
66/100
Released: 1991Rated: R
Action & Adventure, Crime

What it's about: An attorney is terrorized by the criminal he put away years ago when he was a cop.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a popular subscription service (HBO MAX & HBO) & stream on a popular TV everywhere service (HBO).

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24. The Dead Pool

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
6.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes Logo57%
Reelgood Logo
65/100
Released: 1988Rated: R
Action & Adventure, Crime

What it's about: Dirty Harry Callahan returns for his final film adventure. Together with his partner Al Quan, he must investigate the systematic murder of actors and musicians. By the time Harry learns that the murders are a part of a sick game to predict the deaths of celebrities before they happen, it may be too late...

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

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25. O.G.

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
6.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Logo89%
Reelgood Logo
65/100
Released: 2018Rated: R
Drama

What it's about: Louis Menkins is five weeks away from being released after 26 years in prison. He is faced with the decision to put his own release at risk in order to protect a young man named Beecher from growing gang controversies.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a popular subscription service (HBO MAX & HBO), stream on a popular TV everywhere service (HBO) & rent or buy from $9.99 on 6 services (iTunes, Google Play & 4 others).

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26. Say Her Name: The Life and Death of Sandra Bland

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
6.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Logo100%
Reelgood Logo
65/100
Released: 2018Rated: R
Documentary

What it's about: Sandra Bland was a bright, energetic activist whose life was cut short when a traffic stop resulted in a mysterious jail cell death just three days later.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a popular subscription service (HBO MAX & HBO), stream on a popular TV everywhere service (HBO) & rent or buy from $3.99 on 5 services (iTunes, Google Play & 3 others).

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27. Cat People

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
6.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Logo61%
Reelgood Logo
65/100
Released: 1982Rated: R
Horror, Drama

What it's about: After years of separation, Irina and her minister brother, Paul, reunite in New Orleans in this erotic tale of the supernatural. When zoologists capture a wild panther, Irina is drawn to the cat -- and the zoo curator is drawn to her. Soon, Irina's brother will have to reveal the family secret: that when sexually aroused, they turn into predatory jungle cats.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a popular subscription service (HBO MAX & HBO), stream on a popular TV everywhere service (HBO) & rent or buy from $3.99 on 5 services (iTunes, Google Play & 3 others).

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28. Against the Wall

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
6.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Logo67%
Reelgood Logo
65/100
Released: 1994Rated: R
Action & Adventure, Drama

What it's about: Based on the true story of the Attica Prison uprising of 1971.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a popular subscription service (HBO MAX & HBO) & stream on a popular TV everywhere service (HBO).

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29. Gamer

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
5.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Logo30%
Reelgood Logo
64/100
Released: 2009Rated: R
Action & Adventure, Science-Fiction

What it's about: Mind-control technology has taken society by a storm, a multiplayer on-line game called "Slayers" allows players to control human prisoners in mass-scale. Simon controls Kable, the online champion of the game. Kable's ultimate challenge becomes regaining his identity and independence by defeating the game's mastermind.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a popular subscription service (HBO MAX & HBO), stream on a popular TV everywhere service (HBO) & rent or buy from $3.99 on 6 services (iTunes, Google Play & 4 others).

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30. Money Talks

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
6.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Logo16%
Reelgood Logo
62/100
Released: 1997Rated: R
Comedy, Action & Adventure

What it's about: Sought by police and criminals, a small-time huckster makes a deal with a TV newsman for protection.

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

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31. Analyze That

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
5.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes Logo27%
Reelgood Logo
60/100
Released: 2002Rated: R
Comedy, Crime

What it's about: The mafia's Paul Vitti is back in prison and will need some serious counseling when he gets out. Naturally, he returns to his analyst Dr. Ben Sobel for help and finds that Sobel needs some serious help himself as he has inherited the family practice, as well as an excess stock of stress.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a popular subscription service (HBO MAX) & rent or buy from $1.99 on 6 services (iTunes, Google Play & 4 others).

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32. Three Fugitives

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
6.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Logo14%
Reelgood Logo
54/100
Released: 1989Rated: PG-13
Action & Adventure, Comedy

What it's about: On his first day after being released from jail for 14 armed bank robberies, Lucas finds himself caught up in someone else's robbery. Perry has decided to hold up the local bank to raise money so that he can keep his daughter, Meg, and get her the treatment she needs. Dugan, a detective, assumes Lucas helped plan the robbery, and hence Lucas, Perry and Meg become three fugitives.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a popular subscription service (HBO MAX & HBO), stream on a popular TV everywhere service (HBO) & rent or buy from $2.99 on 5 services (iTunes, Google Play & 3 others).

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33. Mrs. Soffel

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
6.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes Logo36%
Reelgood Logo
50/100
Released: 1984Rated: PG-13
Drama, Romance

What it's about: A prison warden's wife is seduced into helping a notorious killer escape.

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

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34. The Iceman and the Psychiatrist

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes LogoN/A
Reelgood Logo
50/100
Released: 2004
Documentary, Crime

What it's about: For the third time, HBO cameras go inside Trenton State Maximum Security Prison--and inside the mind of one of the most prolific killers in U.S. history--in this gripping documentary. Mafia hit man Richard Kuklinski freely admits to killing more than 100 people, but in this special, he speaks with top psychiatrist Dr. Park Dietz in an effort to face the truth about his condition. Filled with more never-before-revealed confessions, it's the most chillingly candid Iceman special yet as it combines often-confrontational interview footage between Kuklinski and Dietz with photos, crime reenactments and home movies that add new layers to this evolving and fascinating story.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a popular subscription service (HBO MAX & HBO), stream on a popular TV everywhere service (HBO) & rent or buy from $2.99 on 5 services (iTunes, Google Play & 3 others).

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35. True Justice: Bryan Stevenson's Fight for Equality

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
8.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes LogoN/A
Reelgood Logo
49/100
Released: 2019Rated: R
Documentary

What it's about: An intimate portrait of Alabama public interest attorney Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, who for more than three decades has advocated on behalf of the poor, the incarcerated and the condemned, seeking to eradicate racial discrimination in the criminal justice system.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a popular subscription service (HBO MAX & HBO), stream on a popular TV everywhere service (HBO) & rent or buy from $7.99 on 5 services (iTunes, Google Play & 3 others).

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36. The Iceman Tapes: Conversations with a Killer

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes LogoN/A
Reelgood Logo
47/100
Released: 1992
Documentary

What it's about: Richard Kuklinski was a devoted husband, loving father--and ruthless killer of over 100 people. You'll meet him in this powerful documentary that features one of the most vivid and disturbing interviews ever recorded--taped behind the walls of the prison where Kuklinski is serving two consecutive life sentences for multiple homicide.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a popular subscription service (HBO MAX & HBO), stream on a popular TV everywhere service (HBO) & rent or buy from $2.99 on 5 services (iTunes, Google Play & 3 others).

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37. Solitary

IMDB LogoIMDB Star
7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes LogoN/A
Reelgood Logo
43/100
Released: 2016
Comedy, Documentary

What it's about: There are 100,000 US citizens in solitary confinement across the country, a staggering number prompting comment from both President Obama and the Pope. Situated in rural Virginia, 300 miles from any urban center, Red Onion State Prison is one of over 40 supermax prisons across the US built to hold prisoners in eight-by-ten-foot cells for 23 hours a day. Filmed over the course of one year, this eye-opening film braids stark prison imagery, stories from correction officers, and intimate reflections from the men who are locked up in isolation. The inmates share the paths that led them to prison and their daily struggles to maintain their sanity.

Where to Watch: Available to stream on a popular subscription service (HBO MAX & HBO) & stream on a popular TV everywhere service (HBO).