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Midnight Express (1978)

7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 44,048 users  
Reviews: 232 user | 62 critic

The true story of Billy Hayes, an American college student who is caught smuggling drugs out of Turkey and thrown into prison.

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(book), (book), 1 more credit »
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Title: Midnight Express (1978)

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Won 2 Oscars. Another 14 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Tex
Paolo Bonacelli ...
Paul L. Smith ...
Hamidou (as Paul Smith)
...
...
...
Max
Mike Kellin ...
Franco Diogene ...
...
Gigi Ballista ...
...
Peter Jeffrey ...
Joe Zammit Cordina ...
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Storyline

On October 6, 1970 while boarding an international flight out of Istanbul Airport, American Billy Hayes is caught attempting to smuggle 2 kilos of hashish out of the country, the drugs strapped to his body. He is told that he will be released if he cooperates with the authorities in identifying the person who actually sold him the hash. Billy's troubles really begin when after that assistance, he makes a run for it and is recaptured. He is initially sentenced to just over four years for possession, with no time for the more harsh crime of smuggling. The prison environment is inhospitable in every sense, with a sadistic prison guard named Hamidou ruling the prison, he who relishes the mental and physical torture he inflicts on the prisoners for whatever reason. Told to trust no one, Billy does befriend a few of the other inmates, namely fellow American Jimmy Booth (in for stealing two candlesticks from a mosque), a Swede named Erich, and one of the senior prisoners having already ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

prison | prisoner | drugs | smuggling | student | See more »

Taglines:

Busted for drugs and condemned to the nightmarish hell of a Turkish prison, there was only one escape [Australia Theatrical] See more »

Genres:

Biography | Crime | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

| |

Release Date:

6 October 1978 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Midnight Express  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$2,300,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$35,000,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In 2004, screen-writer Oliver Stone apologized for the portrayal of Turkey, Turkish prisons and the Turkish people in the movie. See more »

Goofs

Boom operator visible chasing[?] as he climbs a path by the prison wall. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
[Susan makes her way through a line at an airline checkpoint]
Susan: Excuse me... Excuse me... Excuse me... Excuse me.
[she reaches Billy in line]
Susan: Nervous?
Billy Hayes: No.
Susan: Geez, I hate flying.
Billy Hayes: It's something I ate. I think I've been poisoned.
Susan: Or you're just excited about getting home.
Billy Hayes: No, I think it's the baklavas.
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Mad About You: Sunday Times (1992) See more »

Soundtracks

Istanbul Blues
By David Castle
See more »

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User Reviews

What a tense movie!
21 May 2002 | by (santa cruz, ca) – See all my reviews

It's interesting to note the comments on this movie.

I saw it on TV last night, not for the first time, and I noticed how the Turks in the film are all one-dimensional bad people, and physically ugly to boot. I also read that many of the scenes are completely fictional. I am not one of those people who think that a "true" story must be completely true; I think that the purpose of movies is to entertain, and this one certainly does that, if in a harrowing way. But, given the politics of our time, if the author of the screenplay wanted to create a demon people for dramatic effect, perhaps it would have been better to have set the story in a fictional or unidentified country.

The other observation I would make is, we are not much better than they are. We regularly sentence people to ungodly amounts of prison time for drug offenses, both on a state and federal level. Our prisons are no picnic, either, with many of the same sorts of things that were portrayed in the movie happening right here at home.

So, go check "the man in the mirror" before you condemn anyone else.


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