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Midnight Express (1978)

7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 45,495 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.

Director:

Writers:

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

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Won 2 Oscars. Another 16 wins & 12 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
Mike Kellin ...
Franco Diogene ...
...
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

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

Billy Hayes visited the Maltese filming locations during principal photography exactly two years to the date he had escaped. Hayes said: "It was so true to life that I started to sweat. It was obvious to me that everyone concerned wanted to make a film that says something - and there's a lot to be said . . . Hopefully, we can shake people up, and move them to do something for all those others who are still locked up in stinking hell-holes around the world". See more »

Goofs

The amount of hash strapped to Billy's body differs from when he was first frisked in the airport and later when he was in the police interrogation room. 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

Featured in I Love the '70s: Volume 2: 1978 (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Istanbul Blues
By David Castle
See more »

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User Reviews

A good movie but keep in mind a near total fantasy.
10 September 2003 | by (Richard Hatch) – See all my reviews

I like this movie a lot. I believe it is well done and is a movie that can be watched several times. However, as a person who has spent time in Turkey and read the book upon which the film is based, I know that it is a fictional story. It begins with a caption "a true story" but the only thing true about this movie is that someone named Billy Hayes was caught trying to smuggle a lot of hashish out of the country and was sent to jail. The events that supposedly happened to him in prison are fictional. I'm not saying that being in a Turkish prison is a good thing but the brutality presented is just plain fiction. Before you feel sorry for this guy remember that he was trying to smuggle drugs for re-sale in the US. Before you condemn Turkey remember that at the time Turkey was being pressured by the world community, particularly by the US, to do something about the drug flow coming out of the country. This is one movie that infuriates the Turkish government whenever it is shown and I believe rightly so because it caters to the notion that Turkey is some type or barbaric nation with a population that is incapable of human emotion or decency. Having lived in Turkey I know this to be totally false. In addition, with the exception of the skyline of Istanbul in the opening scene, none of the movie was filmed in Turkey. All of the Turks portrayed in the film, with the exception of the prosecutor, are Italian actors. The language spoken in the movie is not even Turkish for the most part. There are some phrases which are indeed Turkish but the majority of what is spoken is some other language. As I said however, I like this movie, in the same way that I like Star Trek; a great story but fiction none the less.


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