7.6/10
61,610
256 user 63 critic

Midnight Express (1978)

Trailer
1:17 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

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

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (book) (as William Hayes) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Popularity
2,975 ( 191)
Won 2 Oscars. Another 14 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Birdy (1984)
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

After two friends return home from the Vietnam War one becomes mentally unstable and obsesses with becoming a bird.

Director: Alan Parker
Stars: Matthew Modine, Nicolas Cage, John Harkins
Crime | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Two F.B.I. Agents, with wildly different styles, arrive in Mississippi to investigate the disappearance of some civil rights activists.

Director: Alan Parker
Stars: Gene Hackman, Willem Dafoe, Frances McDormand
Angel Heart (1987)
Horror | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A private investigator is hired by a man who calls himself Louis Cyphre to track down a singer named Johnny Favorite. But the investigation takes an unexpected and somber turn.

Director: Alan Parker
Stars: Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro, Lisa Bonet
Documentary | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.2/10 X  
Stars: Alan Parker, John Hurt, Alan Marshall
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Billy Hayes
... Susan
... Tex
... Rifki
... Hamidou (as Paul Smith)
... Jimmy Booth
... Erich
... Max
... Mr. Hayes
Franco Diogene ... Yesil
... Stanley Daniels
Gigi Ballista ... Chief Judge
... Prosecutor
... Ahmet
... Airport Customs Officer
Edit

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:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

|

Language:

| | |

Release Date:

6 October 1978 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Expreso de medianoche  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$1,800,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$35,000,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(still photographs)| (Eastmancolor) (uncredited)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Sir John Hurt's only film that he has done without first reading the script. 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 Packed to the Rafters: Live and Let Live (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

(Theme From) Midnight Express (Vocal)
Performed by Chris Bennett
Vocals and Lyrics By Chris Bennett
Arranged By [String And Horn] Greg Mathieson, Harold Faltermeyer
Music composed by Giorgio Moroder
Published by Gold Horizon Music Corp./ Rick's Music, Inc. (O.P. Ed.Intro/Say Yes Music) (BMI)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
I'm Billy Hayes, well at least I used to be.
16 February 2012 | by See all my reviews

Midnight Express is directed by Alan Parker and adapted to screenplay by Oliver Stone. It is loosely based on Billy Hayes' book of the same name. It tells of American Hayes' (Brad Davis) arrest and subsequent conviction for trying to smuggle hashish out of Istanbul, Turkey, for which he was sent to a hellish Turkish prison to serve his time. It also stars Randy Quaid, John Hurt, Paul L. Smith and Irene Miracle. Music is scored by Giorgio Moroder and cinematography is by Michael Seresin.

Although controversy followed it due to its portrayals of the Turkish people, Midnight Express is today still a raw and uncompromising experience. In fact if we strip away Moroder's Oscar winning electro bubbling score, the film holds up as a fresh and pertinent piece of film making. Parker doesn't cut corners or attempt any sort of Hollywood gloss, he keeps it grimy, oppressive and harsh in its telling, whilst the hand-held camera work keeps things jittery, harmonising with Billy Hayes and his fellow cons' state of mind. The narrative unfurls from Billy's POV, and it's mostly in a downwards direction, with that it's hard to call the picture essential entertainment, we are after all observant to mental and physical abuse, with the disintegration of the human spirit front and centre. Billy's alienation is deftly crafted by Parker, where the non use of subtitles for the Turkish characters helps us to feel as isolated as Billy was. However, there's the odd glimmer of hope and humanity, courtesy of Billy's interactions within the few friendships he forms, and of course there's the overriding urge to see him escape his hell.

Stone won the Academy Award for his screenplay, and even though it has been frowned upon for some of the perceived bile unleashed on the Turks, it mostly excels on a human's under duress basis. The interactions between prisoners is often solemn and edgy, due to the characters being from different walks of life, while much of Hayes' outpourings of emotion have conviction by way of the words; even if one particular "speech" is ill advised and over the top. Cast are excellent, where Davis calls on the sadness in his real life upbringing to give a performance of real intensity, while Hurt and Quaid are beaten down by drug fuelled resignation and tempestuousness respectively. It has flaws, and the over dramatising of certain events tends to deviate from a real story that hardly needed extra oomph, but always Midnight Express remains a harrowing and potent piece of cinema. 8/10


12 of 19 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 256 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Trending Movies With Prime Video

Enjoy a night in with these popular movies available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial