3x3: scenes in prison or jail cells

This week’s 3x3 is about our favorite scenes set in jail cells or prison cells. The discussion starts at the 45-minute mark of our Red podcast. Our picks:

3. Watchmen
2. The Man Who Wasn’t There

  1. The Rapture

3. Edmond
2. Cool Hand Luke

  1. The Exorcist III

3. Silverado
2. Papillon

  1. Hunger

Your picks?

Does porn count? I keed.

  1. Steve McQueen and his ball in The Great Escape

  2. I don’t care that it has become trendy to hate The Shawshank Redemption. I love the movie and it’s all about great scenes in prison. My pick would be the final poster reveal by the warden.

  3. And I zon’t care about your zilly rules, zince yous so often break dem yourselves. I bring you Blackadder in a German cell:

Good lord, Hans, that last clip has Mr. Bean in it. And a laugh track. I think you’re confusing prison scenes with torture scenes.


Tom stole my Rapture. Loved those bars falling to the ground.

  1. Down By Law - “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.”

  2. Blazing Saddles - “What is your pleasure? What do you like to do?” “Oh, I dunno, play chess…screw…” “Well, let’s play chess!”

  3. Brute Force - Cruel guard Hume Cronyn works over con Burt Lancaster with a rubber hose.

Honorable mentions: Shawsomething. Tony Todd taking pleasure in gutting Boy Nicolas Cage. The breakouts in Johnny Dangerously and Public Enemies.

I know you love your creative trolling, but confusing Blackadder fabulously written by Ben Elton with Rowan Atkinsons own invention Mr. Bean is on a level far beyond confusing football and cricket, Batman and Magneto or whatever it is you usually try to get people fuming, that I won’t even bite (very much).

You, sir, suck!

Hey, look, I know you Mr. Bean fans are a serious lot, so whatever floats your boat, Hanzii. It was just weird seeing him talk. I thought his whole schtick in those movies was that he was like Inspector Clouseau, but without any dialog.

Oooh, love the Down by Law choice, Mr. Man. I think that was the first (and last!) time that I didn’t find Robert Benigni insufferable.


More torture! Start at 2:06 and stay until the “BAAAAAAA!”

You’ve got to admit though Hans, Blackadder never had anything as funny as feigning ignorance to get a rise out of people!

Stalag 17 - a mole is in the German prison camp, stopping every method of escape. The discovery and punishment of said mole, along with the fole of the hero as scape goat, has me watching this every time it is on. Picking a scene in particular, I’d say the two are the failed escape attempt and the punishment of the spy.

Bad Boys - not the shitty Martin Lawrence vehicle, but the 1983 film starring Sean Penn, Clancy Brown, and Ally Sheedy. I didn’t need Scared Straight growing up, this film with its prison violence in a youth reformatory kept my nose clean for good. For a scene in particular, I’ll opt for Horowitz meeting his fate for seeking revenge.

The Deer Hunter - an already amazing movie sandwiching some of the most brutal prison scenes I’ve seen. It took multiple viewings before I could really grasp the depravity of what the prisoners had to go through and not just sit in shock. Di di mao indeed.

  1. The Count Of Monte Cristo - “Let’s make a bargain: you ask God for help, and I’ll stop the moment he shows up.”

  2. Johnny Dangerously - Technically it’s the walk from his cell to the electric chair, but assembling the submachine gun piece by piece is crazy awesome.

  3. Cube - practically the entire film counts.

Spanglish features a magnificent performance by Adam Sandler as a professional chef ‘imprisoned’ in the ‘jail cell’ of a loveless marriage.

The Life of Brian - “Oh what I wouldn’t give to be spat at in the face!”


Tom, you can’t fine Kelly Wand a half point for Edmond being a play first when you picked Watchmen!

Having just watched Bronson this past weekend that clearly needs a mention though I’m not sure which specific scene I’d pick.

One memorable scene is in the French movie The Prophet where the main character is told to assasinate another inmate. Failing to do so would lead to his own demise, so he’s desperately practicing the killing by trying to put a razor blade inside his mouth and then trying to take it out as quickly as possible.

Another scene that comes to mind is the very last scene in the new Danish movie R. A terrible and powerful scene that had me staring at the screen with a horrified expression on my face as the credits started to roll.

Both The Prophet and R are great prison movies, definitely worth watching. Be warned, though: R is even more depressing than Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.

The Carandiru wedding scene was pretty memorable, I thought.

George C. Scott’s “I believe” speech in Exorcist III would definitely go on my Top 3 list of scenery-chewing moments. He dislocated his lower jaw and swallowed not only the immediate scenery whole but my memory of almost the entire movie aside from it. “…you SON OF A BITCH, I believe…in you.”

Edit: also…how far were they from shore when they shot?

I can’t believe nobody mentioned Raging Bull yet. De Niro punching the walls of his cell near the end is maybe my favourite moment in a movie jam-packed with favourite moments.

A Finnish movie called Frozen City has a great scene where a prisoner’s family comes to see him and a special family meeting cell has been prepared for them. The prisoner and his ex-wife retreat to to another room and leave the kids to play with toys. They try to have sex but the ex-wife doesn’t have the appetite, so she just ends up giving him a hand job and wiping her hands clean with kitchen tissue. A very realistic, uncomfortably mundane scene.