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
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 »
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 »
[Susan makes her way through a line at an airline checkpoint]
Excuse me... Excuse me... Excuse me... Excuse me.
[she reaches Billy in line]
Geez, I hate flying.
It's something I ate. I think I've been poisoned.
Or you're just excited about getting home.
No, I think it's the baklavas.
[...] See more »
The Columbia Pictures logo is played in complete silence. See more »
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 »
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.
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