Midnight Express

  • Directors: Alan Parker
  • Producers: Alan Marshall, David Puttnam
  • Writers: Billy Hayes, William Hoffer, Oliver Stone
  • Genres: Biography, Crime, Drama, Thriller
  • Actors: Brad Davis, Randy Quaid, John Hurt, Paul L Smith, Irene Miracle

On October 6, 1970, after a stay in Istanbul, a US 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 arrested. After a while, a shadowy American arrives. He translates for Billy. The police ask where Billy bought the hash. Billy tells them that he bought it from a cab driver and offers to help the police track him down in exchange for his release. He goes with the police to a local market and points the cab driver out but while the police go to arrest the cabbie, Billy makes a run for it. He gets cornered in a building and is recaptured by the mysterious American. Billy is sentenced to four years and two months’ imprisonment on the charge of drug possession. He is sent to SaÄŸmalcılar prison (closed in 2008) to serve out his sentence. In the remand centre, he meets and befriends other Western prisoners. 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.

In 1975, Susan comes to see Billy and is devastated at what the guards have done to him. After being committed to the prison’s insane asylum, Billy again tries to escape, this time by attempting to bribe the head guard, who then takes him to the sanitarium, intending to rape him. Billy ends up killing the guard. He then 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.

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