Saturday, August 20, 2011

Movie Moments: #113


Midnight Express (1978)

In 1970 American student Billy Hayes was busted trying to smuggle hashish out of Turkey.  Hayes was sentenced to 4 years and 2 months in a Turkish prison but, when his release date was only weeks away, his sentence was changed to life imprisonment.  Hayes escaped to Greece in 1975 and subsequently wrote of his experiences in a book, Midnight Express.  That book was the basis for the 1978 film of the same name, directed by Alan Parker with a screenplay by Oliver Stone.  Hayes, however, was unhappy with the factual changes and with the extremely negative portrayal of all Turkish people.  Hayes, now a writer, actor and director, returned to Turkey in 2007 to show his regret at the negative portrayal of Turkey in the film.  Stone has also apologised for the portrayal of Turkey’s people.

A depiction of Hayes’ smuggling detection, imprisonment and escape; refer above.

Max:The best thing to do is to get your ass out of here. Best way that you can.
Billy Hayes: Yeah, but how?
Max: Catch the midnight express.
Billy Hayes: But what's that?
Max: [laughs] Well it's not a train. It's a prison word for... escape. But it doesn't stop around here.


·       Billy Hayes courteously declines the amorous advances of one of his fellow inmates. In actuality, the real Billy Hayes had an ongoing affair with this person, not just a brief encounter in the shower.
·       At the end of the movie, Billy Hayes killed the head guard, Hamidou, by pushing him into a clothes rack and impaling him. In real life, it wasn't Billy Hayes that killed the head guard but a recently paroled prisoner, where he spotted Hamidou drinking tea at a cafĂ© outside and shot him eight times, killing him.

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