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Midnight Express (1978)

R  |   |  Biography, Crime, Drama  |  6 October 1978 (USA)
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 49,513 users  
Reviews: 238 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) (as William Hayes) , (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

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:

$1,800,000 (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

Although set in Turkey, the interiors of the Sagmalcilar Prison were actually filmed at Fort St.Elmo, Valletta, Malta after permission to film in Istanbul was denied. See more »

Goofs

The Turkish spoken by the Turkish characters in the film is uniformly broken. The actors are obviously not Turkish; sometimes the language is so broken it is difficult for native speakers to understand what they are saying. 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 Seinfeld: The Secret Code (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

Istanbul Blues
By David Castle
See more »

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User Reviews

Gritty, Gross and Downright Fabulous
17 October 1999 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

Midnight Express can be compared to the likes of Mississippi Burning, Schindler's List and Midnight Cowboy - people who see it love it or hate it - no in between and it inspires a great deal of conversation. I have never met anyone who has seen this film and does not carry a strong opinion of it one way or another.

I love it. I do not consider it a depiction of Turkish life or an accurate retelling of the whole truth. In fact, the truth of the William Hays story is deeply lost in this picture. I consider Midnight Express to be a primarily fictional prison drama, bases largely on real events. The bottom line is that it is a great film.

Politically, I am quite conservative and have a "don't do the crime if you can't do the time" attitude. I had very little sympathy for William Hays in this movie, a young American caught smuggling hash out of Turkey and imprisoned in an absolute hell-hole. Instead, I am fascinated by his adaptation to prison life, the politics among prisoners and officials, the relationship with Brad's family and lawyers and all the other aspects of the films.

The film is very gross, quite violent and filmed in a dark, depressing. atmospheric manner. It is not for the faint of heart or anyone looking for a pleasant experience.

If you are a Randy Quaid fan then Midnight Express is a must see. So much of Randy Quaid's fame arises from the ludicrous Vacation movies and Independence Day, his true talent is unappreciated. See this (an The Last Detail) if you are a Randy fan.

There is a completely unnecessary and inane scene in which the lead character delivers a speech in a Turkish court - cut this scene short and you have a perfect movie.

Midnight Express is controversial and though-provoking. I cannot guarantee that you will like it, but I can guarantee that it will make you think.

**** out of ****


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