7.6/10
72,377
297 user 70 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
1,810 ( 1,086)
Won 2 Oscars. Another 14 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Edit

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
Edit

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:

The story of Billy Hayes' unbelievable courage. It couldn't happen... but it did! See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Billy Hayes courteously declines the amorous advances of one of his fellow inmates. In real life, Billy Hayes had an on-going affair with this person, not just a brief encounter in the shower. See more »

Goofs

It is true that Billy Hayes was beaten with a stick by a guard for stealing a blanket because he was cold in his jail cell that first night. He was hit with a stick, but was not hung up and beaten on a torture rack as shown in the movie. 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 Columbia Pictures logo is played in complete silence. See more »

Alternate Versions

With regard to commercial network, and standard cable showings of the movie 1.) All swearing is dubbed with much tamer words, or in a few cases, skipped or silenced. 2.) The chicken being decapitated is normally not shown when Billy makes a run for it, leaving the Turkish Bazaar. 3.) Billy is shown fully nude during a strip-search after his arrest. Censored TV prints delete all shots of his bare butt. Some prints omit Tex's line, "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 all commercial TV prints. You would have to see the uncut movie to even realize that something was missing. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Very Bad Things (1998) 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 »

User Reviews

Shocked the once inexperienced me
4 May 2004 | by shu-fenSee all my reviews

The 40+ in town should find Giorgio Moroder's powerful original music very familiar. In their teenage days, their most frequented discos must have played this music. And the very first thing about "Midnight Express" I got contact with was this music. It's modern, it's sinister, it's tense. Listening to it with eyes closed, you can imagine a frantic chasing scene: a cold quiet killer running after a frightened sweating guy in any sleazy areas of any big city. Running, yes there must be some running.

Watching stalwart Sir Alan Parker's movie, viewers need to be psychologically prepared for the dark elements he often employs on the, to some degree, shocking scenes. I still cannot stomach Bob Geldof's "suicide pool" (Pink Floyd The Wall).

Crime and punishment, humanitarianism, use of drugs, liberal and repressed societies etc can all be discussed after one has seen the movie. I watched this one when I was about 15. When the Turkish jailers wanted to rape Billy, I was so silly to ask my brother (who is five years younger than I am) what they were doing and he told me their intention. Shocked. And I more or less have very little interest in prison movie afterwards. Later I have a chance to read a little of the book, not a very well-written one, more like a report. The movie, at my viewing, somehow reminded me of "Papillon", another escape from a foreign land. That one is less nauseating.

Seeing west Turkey some ten years ago, I talked with some Turks about the movie. Quite a number of them watched it outside the country. The truth is that they don't mind how ugly the west portrays their prison or even their country because the movie only told partial truth, and this has already confirmed by B Hayes himself. According those Turks, the Turkish jailers would rather have women than men because they are not that easily available. The west still conquers the world mass media. Viewers have to keep their heads clear.


21 of 42 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 297 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »
Edit

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 »

Edit

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 »

Contribute to This Page

We've Got Your Streaming Picks Covered

Looking for some great streaming picks? Check out some of the IMDb editors' favorites movies and shows to round out your Watchlist.

Visit our What to Watch page



Recently Viewed