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
Columbia was pushing hard for Richard Gere to take the lead role, but Alan Parker was very unhappy with this decision, especially as Gere refused to audition for the role. Parker persisted in screentesting other actors, and had three very strong auditions from Sam Bottoms, Dennis Quaid, and Brad Davis. These helped make the studio see that Gere wasn't the best choice. (The casting of Dennis Quaid would have been very interesting as his elder brother Randy had already been cast.) See more »
Muslim prayer is depicted incorrectly. Muslim prayer has definite steps and rules, and there's always a leader to the prayer when more than two are praying. 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 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 »
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 »
While this film is entertaining to watch and has its level of suspense at various points it is not a truly `true story' much of it according to the real Billy Hayes never happened and his eventual escape is very different from what is depicted in this motion picture. It also tends to demonize the nation of Turkey and presents a distorted view of its people. Is it possible to have sympathy for the main character? He was fully aware of what he was doing and knew the consequences should he be caught so sympathy is on an individual basis. You may have sympathy or may not.
A number of years ago a public service commercial narrated by actor Hal Holbrook frequently ran on Television, which told of Americans being held in foreign prisons. He spoke of one American held in a Turkish prison. Was it Billy Hayes? The commercial ends with the line `When you're busted for drugs over there you're in for the hassle of your life' That's the message this film was intended to send out irregardless if the events in it were true or fictionalized for dramatic purposes. As always purchase or rent a copy to see the uncut unedited version.
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