Midnight Express (film)

Midnight Express

A film poster for Midnight Express.
Directed byAlan Parker
Produced byAlan Marshall
David Puttnam
Written byBilly Hayes (book)
William Hoffer (book)
Oliver Stone
StarringBrad Davis
Randy Quaid
John Hurt
Irene Miracle
Music byGiorgio Moroder
CinematographyMichael Seresin
Editing byGerry Hambling
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date(s)October 6, 1978 (USA)
Running time121 min.
Country United States
LanguageEnglish
Turkish (inarticulate)
Maltese (minimal)
BudgetUS$ 2,300,000
IMDb profile


Midnight Express is a 1978 film, based on Billy Hayes' book of the same name adapted into screenplay by Oliver Stone. Hayes was a young American student sent to a Turkish prison for trying to smuggle hashish out of Turkey. The movie deviates from the book's accounts of the story, especially in its portrayal of Turks, to such a level that many have criticized the movie version, including Billy Hayes himself. Later both Oliver Stone and Billy Hayes expressed their regret on how Turkish people were portrayed in the movie.[1] It starred Brad Davis, Irene Miracle, Bo Hopkins, Paolo Bonacelli, Paul L. Smith, Randy Quaid, Norbert Weisser, Peter Jeffrey and John Hurt. Alan Parker directed and David Puttnam produced. The film's title is prison slang for an inmate's escape attempt.

Synopsis

On October 6, 1970, after a stay in Istanbul, a U.S. citizen named Billy Hayes is arrested by Turkish police, on high alert due to fear of terrorist attacks, as he is about to fly out of the country with his girlfriend. After being found with several bricks of hashish taped to his body – about two kilograms in total – he is sentenced to a relatively lenient four years and two months' imprisonment on the charge of drug possession. He is sent to Sağmalcılar prison to serve out his sentence. In the remand centre, he meets and befriends other Western prisoners and quickly prepares an escape plan, which fails. In 1974, after a prosecution appeal (who originally wished to have Hayes found guilty of smuggling and not possession), his original sentence is overturned by the Turkish High Court in Ankara, and he is ordered to serve a 30-year term for his crime. His stay becomes a living hell: terrifying and unbearable scenes of physical and mental torture follow one another, where bribery, violence and insanity rule the prison. Monstrous wardens cruelly force the prisoners to undergo the worst brutalities. Some prisoners work for the prison administration as 'informers'. In a fit of madness, Billy bites off the tongue of a prison informant who has notified the warden of his escape plan and also accused one of Billy's accomplices. In 1975, after being committed to the prison's insane asylum, Billy again tries to escape, this time by attempting to bribe the warden-in-chief. He ends up accidentally killing the warden, as the latter wanted to rape him, and Billy puts on an officer's uniform and manages his escape by walking out of the front door. From the epilogue, it is explained that on the night of October 4, 1975 he successfully crossed the border to Greece, and arrived home three weeks later.

Differences between the book and the film

There are some differences between the cinematographic and literary versions of Midnight Express. Major liberties were taken with the real events, which have upset viewers. Here are some obvious liberties taken with regard to the book:
  • In the movie, Billy Hayes is in Turkey with his girlfriend, whereas he was alone in the original story. In the movie, the love story is a main dramatic driving force.
  • The rape scenes are also fictional. Billy Hayes never claimed to be raped by his Turkish wardens or that he ever suffered any sexual violence. He engaged in consensual sex, which is alluded to in the film.
  • Billy Hayes never bit out anyone's tongue.
  • The endings of the cinematographic and literary versions of Midnight Express differ from one another. While in the narrative, the protagonist is moved to another prison from which he escaped by sea, in the movie this passage has been replaced by a violent scene in which he unwittingly kills the warden-in-chief.

Awards

The film won Academy Awards for Best Music, Original Score (Giorgio Moroder) and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (Stone). It was also nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (John Hurt), Best Director, Best Film Editing and Best Picture.

Filming location and casting

Although the story is set largely in Turkey, the entire movie was filmed in Malta, after permission to film in Istanbul was denied, using local actors along with some Italians, Americans, Greeks and Armenians playing Turks.[2] The movie was also filmed in Libya.

Criticism

Billy Hayes interviewed

An amateur interview with Hayes appeared on the website YouTube recorded during the 1999 Cannes Film Festival, in which he described his real experiences and expressed his disappointment with the film adaptation.[3]

In an article for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Hayes was reported as saying that the film 'depicts all Turks as monsters'.[4]

Screenwriter's apology

When he visited Turkey in 2004, screenwriter Oliver Stone, who won an Academy Award for his adaptation, apologized for the film, expressing regret that 'many hearts were broken in Turkey' due to the film.[5][6]

Reviews

Several authors criticized the movie's inaccurate portrayal of the events.

"Midnight Express is 'more violent, as a national hate-film than anything I can remember', 'a cultural form that narrows horizons, confirming the audience’s meanest fears and prejudices and resentments'".[7]

"The Turks I saw in Lawrence of Arabia and Midnight Express were like cartoon caricatures, compared to the people I had known and lived among for three of the happiest years of my life."[8]

'This story could have happened in almost any country, but if Billy Hayes had planned to be arrested to get the maximum commercial benefit from it, where else could he get the advantages of a Turkish jail? Who wants to defend Turks? (They don’t even constitute enough of a movie market for Columbia Pictures to be concerned about how they are represented)'[9]

In popular culture

  • The scene of Billy Hayes trying to smuggle drugs was spoofed in The Simpsons, in a segment from the episode "Treehouse of Horror II", entitled The Monkey's Paw. Homer tries to smuggle contraband on a flight home from Morocco with the family, although the objects strapped onto his body aren't dope, but various mundane items such as a coffee mug and junk souvenirs. Homer assumes a similar pose to that of Billy when he is found out (clueless, hands in the air) by the rampant talking authorities. However, he doesn't go to jail, and they ask him for only 'two American dollar [sic]' to pass the items through. It turns out Homer failed to pay a tariff on the items.
  • The scene in which Billy bites off the snitch's tongue in the prison shortly after going crazy can be seen on the movie "Natural Born Killers" (directed by Midnight Express screenwriter Oliver Stone) when Mickey Knox is watching television in a motel scene.
  • The scene in which Billy's girlfriend Susan exposes her breasts and presses them to the glass between herself and Billy was parodied in the 1996 dark comedy The Cable Guy in which Jim Carrey opens his shirt and presses his bare nipple against the glass between himself and Matthew Broderick. He even imitates Susan's line of, 'Oh, Billy!'
  • The scene is also parodied in an episode of Family Guy, "Brian, Portrait of a Dog", in which Brian is locked up. As Brian speaks on the phone to Lois, a nearby dog places itself up against the glass in a similar manner.
  • The radio show Coast to Coast AM uses a song from the film's soundtrack as its theme song.
  • Trent Reznor, of Nine Inch Nails, uses quotes from the film in his song "Sanctified", mainly the words of his written apology to his family back home.
  • Captain Oveur says to a young boy in the movie Airplane! (1980), 'Joey, have you ever been in a Turkish prison?'
  • The film is spoken of quite often throughout the British comedy series Little Britain.
  • The film is also mentioned in episodes of Max and Paddy's Road to Nowhere, Dharma & Greg, That 70's Show, and Entourage.[episode needed]
  • An episode of Blossom had Blossom and her friend Six discover a marijuana cigarette. Her father later has rented Midnight Express and gives a moving lecture on the fate of Billy Hayes. While the rest of her family thinks watching the film would be a good idea, Blossom doesn't want to do so as she is nervous about the marijuana.

See also

Notes

1. ^ "Real-life 'Midnight Express' character visits Turkey to 'make amends'".
2. ^ See the Imdb site
3. ^ Interview with Billy Hayes about 'Midnight Express' on YouTube
4. ^ The real Billy Hayes regrets 'Midnight Express' cast all Turks in a bad light - Seattle Post Intelligencer
5. ^ LA Weekly. "Oliver Stone Apologizes to Turkey"
6. ^ Oliver Stone To Make Peace with Turks
7. ^ John Wakeman(ed) (1988). World Film Directors. New York: T.H. W. Wilson Co. 
8. ^ Mary Lee Settle (1991). Turkish Reflections. New York: Prentice Hall Press. 
9. ^ Pauline Kael (1980). When the Lights Go Down. New York: Hall Rinehart and Winston. 

External links

  • Midnight Express truth revealed by Alinur (Part 1 - Part 2): Interview with Hayes about the movie at YouTube.


Preceded by
The Turning Point
Golden Globe for Best Picture - Drama
1979|
Succeeded by
Kramer vs. Kramer
Sir Alan William Parker, CBE, (born February 14,1944) is an English film director, producer, writer, and actor. He has been active in both the British film industry as well as in Hollywood. He is a founding member of the Director's Guild of Great Britain.
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David Terence Puttnam, Baron Puttnam, CBE, FRSA, (born 25 February 1941) is a film producer and politician. He sits on the Labour benches in the House of Lords.

Early life


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Billy Hayes (born April 3 1947 in New York, U.S.) is a convicted cannabis smuggler whose story inspired the film Midnight Express.

Hayes, an American student, was caught trying to smuggle hashish out of Turkey in 1970.
..... Click the link for more information.

..... Click the link for more information.
Brad Davis

Birth name Robert Creel Davis
Born November 6, 1949
Tallahassee, Florida
Died September 8, 1991
Los Angeles, California

Spouse(s) Susan Bluestein (1976-1991)

Awards

Robert Creel Davis
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Randy Quaid

Randy Quaid
Birth name Randall Rudy Quaid
Born September 1 1950 (1950--) (age 57)
Houston, Texas,  United States

Spouse(s)
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John Hurt

Birth name John Vincent Hurt
Born January 22 1940 (1940--) (age 67)
Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England, United Kingdom

Spouse(s)
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Irene Miracle (born August 20, 1954 in Stillwater, Oklahoma) is an American film and television actress.

Her first film appearance was as a murder victim in Night Train Murders (1975), an Italian Last House on the Left-clone.
..... Click the link for more information.
Giorgio Moroder (born Giovanni Giorgio Moroder on April 26 1940 in Ortisei, Italy) is an Academy Award-winning Italian record producer, songwriter and performer, whose groundbreaking work with synthesizers during the 1970s was a significant influence on new wave, techno and
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Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. is a film and television production company. It is part of the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group, which is owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment, a subsidiary of the multinational conglomerate Sony.
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October 6 is the 1st day of the year (2nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 0 days remaining.

Events


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-1978- 1979 1980 1981  1982 .  1983 .  1984 .  1985  . 1986  . 1987  . 1988 
In home video: 1975 1976 1977 -1978- 1979 1980 1981     
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Motto
"In God We Trust"   (since 1956)
"E Pluribus Unum"   ("From Many, One"; Latin, traditional)
Anthem
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Motto
"In God We Trust"   (since 1956)
"E Pluribus Unum"   ("From Many, One"; Latin, traditional)
Anthem
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English}}} 
Writing system: Latin (English variant) 
Official status
Official language of: 53 countries
Regulated by: no official regulation
Language codes
ISO 639-1: en
ISO 639-2: eng
ISO 639-3: eng  
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Turkish (Türkçe, ]
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Maltese}}} 
Official status
Official language of: European Union
Malta
Regulated by: Il-Kunsill Nazzjonali ta' l-Ilsien Malti
Language codes
ISO 639-1: mt
ISO 639-2: mlt
ISO 639-3: mlt Maltese
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-1978- 1979 1980 1981  1982 .  1983 .  1984 .  1985  . 1986  . 1987  . 1988 
In home video: 1975 1976 1977 -1978- 1979 1980 1981     
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Billy Hayes (born April 3 1947 in New York, U.S.) is a convicted cannabis smuggler whose story inspired the film Midnight Express.

Hayes, an American student, was caught trying to smuggle hashish out of Turkey in 1970.
..... Click the link for more information.
Midnight Express is a 1977 book by Billy Hayes and William Hoffer about Billy's experience as a young American who was sent to a Turkish prison for trying to smuggle Hashish out of Turkey to the US.

Adaptation

The book was adapted to film in 1978.
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Motto
"In God We Trust"   (since 1956)
"E Pluribus Unum"   ("From Many, One"; Latin, traditional)
Anthem
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prison, penitentiary, or correctional facility is a place in which individuals are physically confined or interned and usually deprived of a range of personal freedoms.
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Smuggling, also known as trafficking, is the sneaking of goods or persons past a point where prohibited, such as out of a building, into a prison, or across an international border, in violation of the law or other rules.

There are various motivations to smuggle.
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Please help [ improve the article] or discuss these issues on the talk page.
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Motto
Yurtta Sulh, Cihanda Sulh
Peace at Home, Peace in the World
Anthem
İstiklâl Marşı
The Anthem of Independence
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Brad Davis

Birth name Robert Creel Davis
Born November 6, 1949
Tallahassee, Florida
Died September 8, 1991
Los Angeles, California

Spouse(s) Susan Bluestein (1976-1991)

Awards

Robert Creel Davis
..... Click the link for more information.
Irene Miracle (born August 20, 1954 in Stillwater, Oklahoma) is an American film and television actress.

Her first film appearance was as a murder victim in Night Train Murders (1975), an Italian Last House on the Left-clone.
..... Click the link for more information.
Bo Hopkins (born February 2, 1942 in Greenville, South Carolina) is an American actor.

Career

Hopkins has appeared in several films, including The Bridge at Remagen, The Wild Bunch, The Getaway, American Graffiti, White Lightning
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Paolo Bonacelli is an Italian actor, born in [1939] in Rome.

He is best known for his terrifying performance as The Duke de Blangis in Pasolini's notorious Salò (1975).
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