Prison movies back in the 60s were starting to take on an edge that a lot of us have come to expect with the movies of the current era, drawing upon different experiences and realities that people didn’t really want to know about until then. When you think about it that kind of makes sense considering that what goes on in prisons is still to this day a lot of conjecture since the stories of the inmates is usually taken with a big grain of salt. But the idea that the prisoners are treated in any way other than what the law allows is still something that some people decide to disbelieve. Whatever happens in those walls, then and now, is a matter of opinion to some and a matter of right vs. wrong with others. But overall the movie experience is something that can’t always be trusted since Hollywood tends to exacerbate and understate a lot of things in life. Prison is just one more.
Here are some of the best prison movies from the 60s.
5. The Hole
It’s always a matter of who you take into your confidence that ends up getting you pinched or exonerating your good choice in who to trust. In this case the four inmates that were intent on escaping and had their tunnel just about dug decided to trust the wrong person. It wasn’t as though they had a lot of choice however since the man had already been put into their cell and therefore was privy to what they were doing in the first place. But in the current day and age one can almost assume that the four inmates might have found a way to pay the snitch back for his role in getting them sent to solitary. “Snitches get stitches” isn’t just a catchy phrase after all.
4. The Hill
Some prison guards and officers are simply too much into their job when it comes to how they dole out punishment and discipline. But then there are those prisoners that still hold their heads high and challenge the guards in more than one way, reminding them that no matter how low a prisoner is a guard is simply the poor schmuck that’s been assigned to guard the lowlifes, meaning that they’re not much better or even considered worthy of anything else. This kind of power struggle inside any prison is a constant reminder that while the prisoners might be the scum of the earth, the guards can be just as bad if not worse, and in some cases need to be.
3. Birdman of Alcatraz
This movie is another reason why fiction and prison are two things that go hand in hand when speaking of what goes on inside the walls. Robert Stroud was an actual inmate, but the details of his story have been highly fictionalized in this movie. While he was a real person, the man in this movie is something of an intriguing character that is a genius and on top of everything mostly pacifistic aside from a few brief spats of violence. That being said he’s a more interesting character than might have been revealed had this been a true biographical piece. Hollywood is quite adept at making a person’s story seem far more interesting.
2. The Great Escape
Sometimes escaping isn’t really the point, it’s just getting out and spitting in the eyes of your captors. Freedom is something that too many of us take for granted and there are times when seeing the open sky unencumbered by walls is the greatest sight in the world. This movie reminds us quite well that the need for hope and the desire for freedom are two things that a lot of human beings just can’t do without. One might be denied, but the desire for the other usually sparks a flame inside that can’t be stilled in a lot of people since quite honestly we’re born to be free in one manner or another, and some will give their lives to see it happen.
1. Cool Hand Luke
It’s not always hope that causes a person to be defiant, but a need to simply piss someone off and continue the fight. The fire in some people might simmer and die down to the point that it might seem like it’s out, but then it flares up and becomes the ever-present, roaring flame that it needs to be in order to keep the fight alive and remind the other person that this isn’t over yet and the real fight is just about to begin, again. Luke is the kind of guy that might seem like he’s down at the end, but in truth has that one last spark left that will burn the hottest when all is said and done.
Prison movies are usually pretty glamorized, but every now and then they remind you of the stark reality that lies within the walls.
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