7.6/10
66,764
278 user 66 critic

Midnight Express (1978)

Trailer
1:18 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Prime Video

ON DISC
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 »
Reviews
Popularity
2,257 ( 122)
Won 2 Oscars. Another 14 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Crime | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Two F.B.I. Agents, with wildly different styles, arrive in Mississippi to investigate the disappearance of some civil rights activists.

Director: Alan Parker
Stars: Gene Hackman, Willem Dafoe, Frances McDormand
Angel Heart (1987)
Horror | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A private investigator is hired by a man who calls himself Louis Cyphre to track down a singer named Johnny Favorite. But the investigation takes an unexpected and somber turn.

Director: Alan Parker
Stars: Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro, Lisa Bonet
Biography | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Alcatraz is the most secure prison of its time. It is believed that no one can ever escape from it, until three daring men make a possible successful attempt at escaping from one of the most infamous prisons in the world.

Director: Don Siegel
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Patrick McGoohan, Roberts Blossom
Birdy (1984)
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

After two friends return home from the Vietnam War one becomes mentally unstable and obsesses with becoming a bird.

Director: Alan Parker
Stars: Matthew Modine, Nicolas Cage, John Harkins
Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A naive hustler travels from Texas to New York City to seek personal fortune, finding a new friend in the process.

Director: John Schlesinger
Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Jon Voight, Sylvia Miles
Comedy | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

When Jimmy Rabbitte wants to start a band, he has open auditions at his house.

Director: Alan Parker
Stars: Robert Arkins, Michael Aherne, Angeline Ball
Fame (1980)
Drama | Music | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A chronicle of the lives of several teenagers who attend a New York high school for students gifted in the performing arts.

Director: Alan Parker
Stars: Eddie Barth, Irene Cara, Lee Curreri
Querelle (1982)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

The French naval ship, Le Vengeur, based out of Marseille, has just docked in Brest for an extended stay. The ship's captain, Lieutenant Seblon, can see the passion in his men, which can as... See full summary »

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Stars: Brad Davis, Franco Nero, Jeanne Moreau
Biography | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

The biography of Ron Kovic. Paralyzed in the Vietnam war, he becomes an anti-war and pro-human rights political activist after feeling betrayed by the country he fought for.

Director: Oliver Stone
Stars: Tom Cruise, Raymond J. Barry, Caroline Kava
Comedy | Fantasy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A Los Angeles Rams quarterback, accidentally taken away from his body by an overanxious angel before he was meant to die, returns to life in the body of a recently murdered millionaire.

Directors: Warren Beatty, Buck Henry
Stars: Warren Beatty, James Mason, Julie Christie
Deliverance (1972)
Adventure | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Intent on seeing the Cahulawassee River before it's dammed and turned into a lake, outdoor fanatic Lewis Medlock takes his friends on a canoeing trip they'll never forget into the dangerous American back-country.

Director: John Boorman
Stars: Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A married man's one-night stand comes back to haunt him when that lover begins to stalk him and his family.

Director: Adrian Lyne
Stars: Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, Anne Archer
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 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:

Everybody gave up on Billy Hayes -- except Billy. See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

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 »

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 »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

In 2004, Screenwriter Oliver Stone apologized for the portrayal of Turkey, Turkish prisons, and the Turkish people in the movie. See more »

Goofs

Billy Hayes never had any real issues with the Turkish people, and made some friends in prison. He did not have any profanity rant when the Istanbul Appellate Court forced the trail judge to give him a minimum sentence of thirty years, but actually begged for forgiveness when he spoke before receiving his new sentence. 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 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 »

Alternate Versions

Some of the VHS and Betamax copies included text before the end credits run that did not appear on the DVD and Blu-ray copies "On May 18,1978 the motion picture you have just seen was shown to an audience of world press at the Cannes Film Festival.... 43 days later the United States and Turkey entered into formal negotations for the exchange of prisoners." See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Nanny: When You Pish Upon a Star (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

The Chase
(uncredited)
by Giorgio Moroder
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

The true story of American Billy Hayes' nightmarish prison stint...
15 July 2003 | by freddymeisterSee all my reviews

"Midnight Express" is the type of movie that stays with you, that makes you think about the things that you have in your everyday life, and makes you cherish those things. The movie opens with our "hero" William "Billy" Hayes wrapping himself up in aluminum folded hash, as he is preparing to attempt going through customs with the drugs around his waist. It's Turkey in 1970, and as the movie points out, bombs are being planted on aircrafts like flies on syrup. Right off the bat, we can see that Billy does not have the "cojones" for such a task, as the recurrent heartbeat that becomes the movie's trademark, along with its Oscar-winning score by Giorgio Moroder, gets stronger and stronger to the point where that nervousness and lack of cool costs him his freedom. He is searched before boarding the plane, and is taken away into a nightmarish ride.

There's a problem that I have with a character played by "American Graffiti's" Bo Hopkins, who comes in and is very fluent in Turkish, and introduces himself as "sort of a representative from the U.S. Consulate". The problem that I have with this character is that we are never told his name, or why he is even there, but he is certainly a key element in the film, since he is the one who put Billy behind bars after a stupid attempt to escape.

Now, I do agree on the fact that the punishment must fit the crime, and at the beginning, the 4-year sentence that Billy's given seems to be just about right for a federal offense such as trying to smuggle drugs from one country to another, but our "hero" never seems to be able to understand the severity of his crime, and never seems to regret his actions, even coming close to demanding that his father "get him out of there". After his sentence is changed to Life in Prison, Billy goes berserk, and starts a monologue against Turkish justice, and even its people that must have caused quite a controversy back in its day.

The supporting characters are all brilliantly played, namely John Hurt in an Oscar-nominated turn as an English prisoner who has been half eaten by drugs and prison life, and who is left behind by Billy at the end, but we never are told what became of him. Randy Quaid is equally good, albeit, in a more thankless role as a fellow American who was imprisoned for 7 years after stealing a candlestick from a temple.

The movie is not easy to digest, but is realistic enough to make you feel for the leading characters, especially Billy, even though we know that he deserved to do the time, we don't feel like he deserved Life Sentence, and so, that is why the ending is so rewarding in our hearts. Rewarding not in a "Shawshank Redemption" fantasy type of a way, but in a true sense, because unlike Andy Dufresne in "Shawshank", Billy's escape is purely random, and we go along with him for the ride towards freedom, not like Andy, who snuck out the back door, and left us wanting for more. Don't get me wrong, I do believe that "Shawshank" is one of the top 5 movies that I've ever seen, but "Midnight Express" stays with you a little longer. They don't make 'em like this anymore. By the way, this was Oliver Stone's first script to be turned into a movie.

I highly recommend this movie, as it is one of the true jewels of the golden era of Hollywood in the 1970's. Check it out.


34 of 72 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 278 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Stream Popular Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed