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Midnight Express (1978)

7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 45,595 users  
Reviews: 233 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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Writers:

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

Midnight Express (1978) on IMDb 7.7/10

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Won 2 Oscars. Another 16 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »

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Director: Alan Parker
Stars: Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro, Lisa Bonet
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Tex
Paolo Bonacelli ...
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Hamidou (as Paul Smith)
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...
...
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 | student | smuggling | See more »

Taglines:

Everybody gave up on Billy Hayes -- except Billy. 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:

$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
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In a scene at the airport, the middle-aged Turkish customs officer (played by Joe Zammit Cordina) supposedly speaks Turkish to Billy. However in reality, he is speaking Maltese after he forgot his lines in Turkish and he decided to use his native Maltese on the spur of the moment. The only Turkish words he speaks are 'pasaport' (passport) and 'cantayI' (bag). 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 Gilmore Girls: Rory's Dance (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

Istanbul Blues
By David Castle
See more »

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User Reviews

Shocked the once inexperienced me
4 May 2004 | by (Hong Kong, China) – See all my reviews

The 40+ in town should find Giorgio Moroder's powerful original music very familiar. In their teenage days, their most frequented discos must have played this music. And the very first thing about "Midnight Express" I got contact with was this music. It's modern, it's sinister, it's tense. Listening to it with eyes closed, you can imagine a frantic chasing scene: a cold quiet killer running after a frightened sweating guy in any sleazy areas of any big city. Running, yes there must be some running.

Watching stalwart Sir Alan Parker's movie, viewers need to be psychologically prepared for the dark elements he often employs on the, to some degree, shocking scenes. I still cannot stomach Bob Geldof's "suicide pool" (Pink Floyd The Wall).

Crime and punishment, humanitarianism, use of drugs, liberal and repressed societies etc can all be discussed after one has seen the movie. I watched this one when I was about 15. When the Turkish jailers wanted to rape Billy, I was so silly to ask my brother (who is five years younger than I am) what they were doing and he told me their intention. Shocked. And I more or less have very little interest in prison movie afterwards. Later I have a chance to read a little of the book, not a very well-written one, more like a report. The movie, at my viewing, somehow reminded me of "Papillon", another escape from a foreign land. That one is less nauseating.

Seeing west Turkey some ten years ago, I talked with some Turks about the movie. Quite a number of them watched it outside the country. The truth is that they don't mind how ugly the west portrays their prison or even their country because the movie only told partial truth, and this has already confirmed by B Hayes himself. According those Turks, the Turkish jailers would rather have women than men because they are not that easily available. The west still conquers the world mass media. Viewers have to keep their heads clear.


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