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Midnight Express (1978)

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

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Writers:

(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
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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:

Everybody gave up on Billy Hayes -- except Billy. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

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 picture's production notes stated: "There is no doubt that ''Midnight Express' . . . will provoke national and international controversy not only because of what actually happened to Billy [Hayes], but also because it continues to happen to others today. There are thousands of young people who, while traveling in foreign countries, make an error in judgment, disobey an obscure or non-existent law, and, due to inexperience and unknown foreign customs, are sentenced to long years in sordid prisons, cut off from outside contact and to all appearances abandoned by their government". See more »

Goofs

After Billy Hayes pushes Hamidou against the wall, killing him, he is seen escaping the jail dressed in well fitting prison guard clothes. Hamidou was much taller and heavier than Billy Hayes and the guard clothes would have been baggy and loose fitting. The location where Hamidou had taken Billy Hayes was secluded with no other guards or clothing nearby. 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 Packed to the Rafters: Live and Let Live (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

The Chase
by Giorgio Moroder
See more »

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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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