HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Helen Morgan Story, The
Golem, Der
Yentl
Finishing Line, The
Triple Threat
Mysterious Castle in the Carpathians, The
Driven
Planet of the Dinosaurs
Gwen
Big Breadwinner Hog
Thunder Road
Moby Dick
Frankenstein's Great Aunt Tillie
Mad Room, The
Phantom of the Megaplex
Night Sitter, The
Child's Play
Power, The
Midsommar
After Midnight
Dolemite is My Name
Varda by Agnes
Toy Story 4
Master Z: Ip Man Legacy
Man Who Never Was, The
Greener Grass
Scobie Malone
Gangster, the Cop, the Devil, The
Brightburn
Satanic Panic
Claudine
Harpoon
Great Northfield Minnesota Raid, The
Dark Phoenix
No Mercy
Arctic
Fate of Lee Khan, The
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
Ladyworld
Rocketman
   
 
Newest Articles
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
Shit-Eating Grim: Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom on Blu-ray
Stallone's 80s Action Alpha and Omega: Nighthawks and Lock Up
Python Prehistory: At Last the 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set on DVD
You Could Grow to Love This Place: Local Hero on Blu-ray
Anglo-American: Joseph Losey Blu-ray Double Bill - The Criminal and The Go-Between
Marvel's Least Loved and Most Loved: Fantastic 4 vs Avengers: Endgame
Battle of the Skeksis: The Dark Crystal Now and Then
American Madness: Sam Fuller's Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss on Blu-ray
Flight of the Navigator and the 80s Futurekids
Trains and Training: The British Transport Films Collection Volume 13 on DVD
Holiday from Hell: In Bruges on Blu-ray
The Comedy Stylings of Kurt Russell: Used Cars and Captain Ron
Robot Rocked: The Avengers Cybernauts Trilogy on Blu-ray
   
 
  Midnight Express Joey, Have You Ever Been In A Turkish Prison?Buy this film here.
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, Biopic
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 2129 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Alan Parker  (1944 - )

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 do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Enoch Sneed
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
  Rachel Franke
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: