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Midnight Express (1978)

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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) (as William Hayes), (book) | 1 more credit »
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Won 2 Oscars. Another 14 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Tex
Paolo Bonacelli ...
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Hamidou (as Paul Smith)
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Max
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Franco Diogene ...
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Gigi Ballista ...
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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

Taglines:

A story of triumph. 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:

Expreso de medianoche  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,800,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$35,000,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was made and released just about a year or two after its source book of the same name by Billy Hayes was first published in 1977. See more »

Goofs

The movie is set in 1970. When Billy Hayes makes a visit to the toilet at the airport to wash his face, there is a poster on the wall showing a shot of the Bosphorus Bridge which was built in 1973. 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 Entourage: Whiz Kid (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Istanbul Blues
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User Reviews

 
Fascinating and violent prison movie partially based on true events
25 August 2010 | by See all my reviews

This excellent movie deals with the American Bill Hayes (performedd by the late Brad Davis ) who was detained smuggling two kilograms of hashish while trying to board the flight along with his girlfriend (Irene Miracle) from Istanbul, Turkey, in 1970 . He was condemned to four years in a hellish Turkish prison on a drug possession charge, but his sentence was later extended Turkish courts decide to make an example of him , sentencing him to more than 30 years in jail . Hayes has two opportunities for getting freedom : the appeals made by his advocate at law , his father (Mike Kellin), and the American government, or the "Midnight Express¨ . Meanwhile, Hayes suffers incredible cruelty and sadism before his escape in 1975. It deals upon horrible conditions of prisoners and grueling efforts of the meager captives to survive ,confrontating mistreats, rampage and continuous violence with punches , lashes, knocks and incredible tortures . The most part of the movie takes place into four walls of a jail , criminal court ,yard and sewers involving and executing the preparatives of the escape . The picture tells the authentic experiences of convicts who live in a brutal Turkish prison that is a hell on the earth , reflecting the hardship existence of the inmates . We have seen men tortured , harassed and humiliated in a gaol where rules the strongest law . The film narrates physical mistreats , tortures and the preparation and execution of the getaway , but also friendship and comradeship . Later on , Hayes erupts in an explosion of self-defensive violence in some breathtaking scenes.

This powerful prison movie well produced by prestigious producer David Puttnam contains thought-provoking drama , thrills , chills and lots of violence . Sensational performances from the magnificent starring Brad Davis who suffers an emotional brutalization and perfect support cast as the junkie John Hurt , the nasty sneaker Paolo Bonacelli who causes in Hayes an explosion of violence and Paul Smith as sadist warden who uses unthinkable tortures and brutality. This is a superbly crafted film though is also intensely manipulative and xenophobic . Interesting screenplay deserving an Oscar by Oliver Stone though full of offensive stereotypes against Turks and not faithful to Bill Hayes's true deeds . Evocative and dark cinematography by Michael Seresin . Unforgettable score by Giorgio Moroder with excessive use of synthesizer and electronic music. Skill and riveting direction by Alan Parker with some sensationalist touch ; this is his first big success , subsequently he made other hits such as ¨Fame¨, ¨The Wall¨,¨Angel heart¨, ¨Missisipi Burning¨ , among them. Rating : Very good , above average . Worthwhile watching .


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