7.6/10
71,735
297 user 68 critic

Midnight Express (1978)

Trailer
1:18 | Trailer
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 »
Reviews
Popularity
306 ( 1,366)
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 ... Yesil
Michael Ensign ... Stanley Daniels
Gigi Ballista Gigi Ballista ... Chief Judge
Kevork Malikyan ... Prosecutor
Peter Jeffrey ... Ahmet
Joe Zammit Cordina ... Airport Customs Officer
Learn more

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Storyline

On October 6, 1970 while boarding an international flight out of Istanbul Airport, American Billy Hayes (Brad Davis) is caught attempting to smuggle two 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 sold him the hashish. 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 (Paul L. Smith) 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 (Randy Quaid) (in for stealing two candlesticks from a mosque), a Swede named Erich (Norbert ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Midnight Express. A Story of Triumph! See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Oliver Stone's screenplay ended with a detailed account of Billy Hayes' escape attempt, traversing through other countries to safety. During filming, Alan Parker felt that all of this was completely unnecessary, as the emotional resonance of Hayes leaving the prison was sufficient. Turning the movie into an action adventure was a big mistake in his opinion. See more »

Goofs

The "fez" hat worn by several Turkish men in the movie has been extremely rare in Turkey since 1925 when it was abolished by Kemal Ataturk (the leader and founder of the Republic of Turkey) in an attempt to "westernize" the country. 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

Some of the VHS and Betamax copies included text before the end credits run that did not appear on the DVD and Blu-ray copies "On May 18,1978 the motion picture you have just seen was shown to an audience of world press at the Cannes Film Festival.... 43 days later the United States and Turkey entered into formal negotiations for the exchange of prisoners." This dialogue existed on HBO's showing of the movie back in 1985. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Max & Paddy's The Power of Two (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Love's Theme
Composed By Giorgio Moroder
Arranged By Harold Faltermeyer, Giorgio Moroder
Published by Gold Horizon Music Corp. (BMI)
(p) 1978 Casablanca Record and FilmWorks, Inc.
© 1978 Columbia Pictures
See more »

User Reviews

A good movie but keep in mind a near total fantasy.
10 September 2003 | by bodieSee 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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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English | Maltese | French | Turkish

Release Date:

6 October 1978 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Midnight Express See more »

Filming Locations:

Malta See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,300,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$35,000,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$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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