Midnight Express Review

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A young American boy is caught smuggling dope and sentenced to life imprisonment in a Turkish jail.


Alan Parker's 1978 movie remains a masterpiece of exploitation cinema. From the stupendously misleading "based on a true story" legend (most of the gooshy stuff as well as the toning down of Billy's gay affair is script invention) through incredible racism (Amnesty International pulled out of a publicity deal with the filmmakers when they saw the flick), borderline homophobia and ultra-stylish gratuitous violence,

Parker retains a vice-like grip on his audience's emotions, building both tension in the stunningly realised arrest and escape sequences as well as a mounting sense of sympathy for Hayes (Brad Davis who died in 1991 from AIDS).

Oliver Stone's Oscar-winning script displays the explosive bombast that would typify his later directorial work, particularly in a fight sequence in which Hayes bites out a guard's tongue. Incidentally, the Turkish authorities still have a warrant out for the real Hayes' arrest. God knows how they feel about Alan Parker.

Hard to call something this gratuitous entertainment but certainly lingers in the memory, thanks mainly to the bombast of Stone's script.