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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.

Director:

Alan Parker

Writers:

Oliver Stone (screenplay), Billy Hayes (book) (as William Hayes) | 1 more credit »
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Popularity
3,086 ( 202)
Won 2 Oscars. Another 14 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Brad Davis ... Billy Hayes
Irene Miracle ... Susan
Bo Hopkins ... Tex
Paolo Bonacelli ... Rifki
Paul L. Smith ... Hamidou (as Paul Smith)
Randy Quaid ... Jimmy Booth
Norbert Weisser ... Erich
John Hurt ... Max
Mike Kellin ... Mr. Hayes
Franco Diogene Franco Diogene ... Yesil
Michael Ensign ... Stanley Daniels
Gigi Ballista Gigi Ballista ... Chief Judge
Kevork Malikyan ... Prosecutor
Peter Jeffrey ... Ahmet
Joe Zammit Cordina ... Airport Customs Officer
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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:

Walk into the incredible true experience of Billy Hayes, and bring all the courage you can! See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English | Maltese | French | Turkish

Release Date:

6 October 1978 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Expreso de medianoche See more »

Filming Locations:

Malta See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,800,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$35,000,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Black and White (still photographs)| Color (Eastmancolor) (uncredited)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Though they were not named after the film, the professional wrestling tag team the Midnight Express (first "Loverboy" Dennis Condrey and "Ravishing" Randy Rose, then Condrey and "Beautiful" Bobby Eaton, and finally Eaton and "Sweet" Stan Lane) used Giorgio Moroder's "Chase" as entrance music. 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 »

Crazy Credits

The only opening titles are: Columbia Pictures presents a Casablanca FilmWorks production an Alan Parker film Midnight Express After this, the opening prologue text reads "The following is based on a true story. It began October 6, 1970 in Istanbul, Turkey." See more »

Alternate Versions

With regard to commercial network, and standard cable showings of the movie, and in the 1980 American Columbia Pictures Home Entertainment red border clam shell VHS/Betamax: 1.) All swearing is dubbed or silenced. 2.) The chicken being decapitated is normally not shown when Billy makes a run for it leaving the Turkish Bizarre. 3.) Billy is shown fully nude during a strip-search after his arrest. Censored prints only show his face. Some prints omit, Tex's line about "would you like to put your clothes on?" 4.) Susan exposing her breasts and Billy touching them when she comes to visit him and sees his horrifying, almost vegetative state is very skillfully cut on the American 1980 red border clam shell VHS/Betamax and all commercial TV prints. You would have to see the uncut movie to even realize that something was missing. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Little Britain: Episode #3.4 (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Istanbul Blues
Vocals by David Castle
Written By Oliver Stone, Billy Hayes (as William Hayes)
Arrangement and lyrics by David Castle
Acoustic / Electric Guitars by Patrick McClure
Drums, Percussion: Jerry Summers
Strings: Fritz Sonnleitner, Sid Sharp
Bass: Rick Tierney
Piano, Electric Piano, Clavinet: David Castle
Published by Rick's Music, Inc./Gold Horizon Music Corp. (BMI)
(p) 1978 Casablanca Record and FilmWorks, Inc.
© 1978 Columbia Pictures
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Gritty, Gross and Downright Fabulous
17 October 1999 | by DanB-4See 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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