HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Vicious Fun
Unearth
Circumstantial Pleasures
Tyger Tyger
Filmmaker's House, The
Man Standing Next, The
Rock, Paper and Scissors
Batman: The Long Halloween Part One
Salaam Bombay!
Boss Level
My Heart Can't Beat Unless You Tell It To
Edge of the World
PTU
Superdeep
Insignificance
Treasure City
Piccadilly
Parallel
Invasión
Shiva Baby
Flowers of Shanghai
War and Peace
Agony
Merrily We Go to Hell
Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie's Dead Aunt)
Amusement Park, The
Lemebel
Hands of Orlac, The
Cats
Death has Blue Eyes
Caveat
Kala Azar
Duplicate
Flashback
Gunda
After Love
Earwig and the Witch
Zebra Girl
Skull: The Mask
Vanquish
   
 
Newest Articles
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
   
 
  Midnight Express Joey, Have You Ever Been In A Turkish Prison?
Year: 1978
Director: Alan Parker
Stars: Brad Davis, John Hurt, Randy Quaid, Irene Miracle, Paul L. Smith, Mike Kellin, Norbert Weisser, Bo Hopkins, Paolo Bonacelli, Franco Diogene, Michael Ensign, Gigi Ballista, Kevork Malikyan, Peter Jeffrey, Joe Zammit Cordina, Raad Rawi, Vic Tablian
Genre: Drama, Thriller, BiopicBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: On October 6th, 1970, 20-year-old American tourist Billy Hayes (Brad Davis) had spent some time in Turkey, and was preparing to leave through customs, but he had a secret, kept even from his girlfriend Susan (Irene Miracle). This was he had a couple of kilos of hashish strapped to his body as part of a deal he had made with drugs smugglers, having been assured he wouldn't be searched as he left the country. It was all going well, in spite of his obvious edginess, until he was due to board the aeroplane; there had been a series of hijacks in the region, and Billy was patted down by soldiers who immediately found the contraband...

At the start of Midnight Express there was a caption which informed us this was a true story, and that was something believed across the world such was the success of the film. The whole Turkish prison punchline became a popular one, for that was where Billy ended up having broken the law in that country, and the reputation of the Turks dipped dramatically what with every one of their citizens depicted here as utter sleazebags who would sell their own grandmothers or whatever. Understandably, this was banned from cinemas there and the authorities complained very loudly about their misrepresentation, but the damage had been done, and though the movie had been made by Brits, it was considered wholly jingoistic American drum-beating.

As if it had been made by Americans seeking to ramp up the xenophobia rather than a harrowing exposé of the dreadful conditions in a foreign prison. Even producer David Puttnam claimed he had regrets, not presumably financial ones, but for the effect it had on widening the gaps between the countries of the world, though to be fair if it put off tourists of any derivation from breaking the law abroad then that would not be such a bad thing. As it was, Turkey's public relations took a nosedive for a long time afterwards, but even at the time there were those questioning Hayes' version of events, and it became clear that much of the movie had been embellished if not downright fabricated.

Oliver Stone was the man doing that fabrication - he apologised to Turkey some time afterwards, too little too late you might have thought - but he won an Oscar for his script and went on to forge a career as one of the most recognisable directors of the following decade and beyond. Alan Parker meanwhile was wanting to exhibit his range after the children's movie Bugsy Malone, and you couldn't get much further away from that than Midnight Express, but what it looked like now was one of those European women in prison movies only with men as the characters. It had that atmosphere redolent of seediness and exploitation, inviting the audience to revel in the degradation taking place.

So if you are suspicious of the material, and indeed motives of the filmmakers, where did that leave Midnight Express? Did the lack of verisimilitude harm the movie in any way or were you able to watch and appreciate it as a piece of entertainment? It was undeniably well made in that it plunged you into two hours of utter misery as was the intention, and the tragically shortlived Davis was downtrodden enough to invite sympathy even if Billy was stupid enough to try and get away with his crime. He was surrounded by some decent performances including John Hurt and Randy Quaid as the two inmates planning the prison break, Paul L. Smith was appropriately horrible as the formidable chief guard and Norbert Weisser was a shoulder to cry on as the prisoner Billy almost has an affair with (something which happens in the book but was denied by the actual person the character was based on). The sense of suffering as something not only worthwhile but stimulating was distinctly uncomfortable. Music by Giorgio Moroder.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 3179 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Alan Parker  (1944 - 2020)

Stylish British director, from advertising, with quite a few musicals to his credit: Bugsy Malone, Fame, Pink Floyd The Wall, The Commitments (possibly his best film) and Evita. Elsewhere he has opted for serious-minded works like Midnight Express, Shoot the Moon, Birdy, Angel Heart, Mississippi Burning and The Life of David Gale. The Road to Wellville was a strange attempt at outright comedy.

 
Review Comments (2)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
Andrew Pragasam
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
   

 

Last Updated: