Friday, August 2, 2013

Prisons you would not want to find yourself in

Remember going to Knotts Berry Farm and going to the Ghost Town Jail where you would secretly tell Sad Eye Joe to tell something funny to one of your unsuspecting friends or relatives. Ha Ha. We used to laugh for hours about the look of surprise on their face when Joe would say something like "Hi Gil, I hear you're visiting all the way from Chicago. Do you want to come in and share my cell". Or something like that.

That's when jails were fun. But how about some movies about prisons that aren't so fun. Here are the three worst prisons in films (my votes for the worst, that is), maybe you have other choices.

From 1932 I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang starring Paul Muni. This is one of those unfair, hopeless kinds of prison films that just make you want to punch out every bad guy in the prison.


An even worse prison is the one Steve McQueen finds himself in the 1973 film Papillon. It's another one of those hopeless, helpless situations that just keep you squirming in your seat. Dustin Hoffman is wonderful in this film - Remember his super, thick glasses?

This is one of the best worst prison films you'll ever have the misfortune of seeing. This is a scene from the film that is so chilling. You'll never smuggle drugs again after you see this. The film is Midnight Express from 1978 and stars Brad Davis

I'd say "enjoy these films" but none of them are exactly enjoyable. But they sure are good. They're just the best of the worst prison films. One interesting note is that all of these films are based on true stories.

If you want to see other great films, check out the North County Film Club.


  1. We live in strange times. I was just reading about how cruise ships stop at Devil's Island where Papillon was filmed.

    On the way to Turkey a few years ago, all I could think about was Midnight Express and what if someone put drugs in my suitcase. I agree with you, this is the top prison. Three really interesting picks!

  2. Nancy. I know how much you like movies that start with the ending and now I find out your preference of nasty prison movies. You need to check out the 1972 made for TV movie call "women in chains". You can see the complete movie on Youtube.

  3. Nancy,

    I finished watching "women in chains" and I am sorry to report that I can no longer recommend it for you. I know you don't like movies like "The Lone Ranger" because Tonto is played by Johnny Depp. So I did a lot of research and found that all the women in "Chains" are in fact women and they are all playing their correct race. I am also pretty sure the lesbians in the movie are real life lesbians, but I suspect none of the women are actual prisoners. I am as upset as you must be when free people take parts from prisoners. Prisoners are way underrepresented in movies today and deserve a shot. Are you with me on this? Can you contact Eric Holder about this?