7.6/10
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284 user 66 critic

Midnight Express (1978)

Trailer
1:18 | Trailer
Billy Hayes (Brad Davis), 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 »
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Popularity
2,465 ( 437)
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
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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:

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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | USA

Language:

English | Maltese | French | Turkish

Release Date:

6 October 1978 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Expreso de medianoche 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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Did You Know?

Trivia

The opening prologue states: "The following is based on a true story. It began October 6, 1970 in Istanbul, Turkey". In fact, most of the events shown in the movie, either didn't happen, or didn't happen in such a dramatic way. Most of the villains are fictitious, and for example, the brutal showdown is a complete invention by the filmmakers. The story told by Billy Hayes in his book, is very different and far less dramatic. It might even be considered "boring" after seeing this sensationalist movie first. 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 Columbia Pictures logo is played in complete silence. See more »

Alternate Versions

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 »

Connections

Spoofed in Robot Chicken: The Departy Monster (2011) 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 »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

What a tense movie!
21 May 2002 | by madmadSee all my reviews

It's interesting to note the comments on this movie.

I saw it on TV last night, not for the first time, and I noticed how the Turks in the film are all one-dimensional bad people, and physically ugly to boot. I also read that many of the scenes are completely fictional. I am not one of those people who think that a "true" story must be completely true; I think that the purpose of movies is to entertain, and this one certainly does that, if in a harrowing way. But, given the politics of our time, if the author of the screenplay wanted to create a demon people for dramatic effect, perhaps it would have been better to have set the story in a fictional or unidentified country.

The other observation I would make is, we are not much better than they are. We regularly sentence people to ungodly amounts of prison time for drug offenses, both on a state and federal level. Our prisons are no picnic, either, with many of the same sorts of things that were portrayed in the movie happening right here at home.

So, go check "the man in the mirror" before you condemn anyone else.


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