Monday, June 18, 2007

Real Life "Midnight Express" Dude Visits Turkey To Apologize

"ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) - Billy Hayes, whose ordeal in a Turkish prison was adapted into the 1978 Academy Award-winning movie «Midnight Express,» said Friday he wanted to make amends for the damage the film had caused Turkey. The Hollywood drama about an American imprisoned and brutalized in Turkey after being caught for drug smuggling has long tarnished Turkey's image abroad. The film was adapted from Hayes' book of the same name."

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First I have to say I like this movie a whole lot. Alan Parker directed a stellar cast in a truly terrifying movie that even with repeated viewings gets your pulse racing at the airport scene. John Hurt, Bo Hopkins, a young Randy Quaid, Mike Kellen and especially Brad Davis do a great job.

The film also has one of the most notoriously racist depictions of an entire culture that was ever made. The only non humorous picture that even comes close is the execrable "Not Without My Daughter" from 1991 starring Sally Field. In that one muslims in general and Iranians in particular get the ugly treatment. In ME the Turks are portrayed as unredeemably slovenly, cruel and sadistic, with the advance screenplay probably being the reason why the Turkish government refused to allow it to be made in their country. It was instead filmed in Malta and production was so offhandedly flippant that Maltese dialogue was supposed to pass for Turkish.

The real life Billy Hayes admitted years after his experience that the film went over the top. A lot of it was made up out of thin air for dramatic effect which is why Turkey objected to it so vociferously and Hayes decided to go there to apologize. By the way, he stupidly tried to smuggle his hashish at a time when airports were locked down due to threats of a terror attack, possibly from the Kurds who might be at war with Turkey any minute now.


A piece of the score is used as the "Coast to Coast" theme music.

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First movie to win an Oscar for "Best Original Score" featuring a totally synthesized music score.

Both Richard Gere and John Travolta were considered for the part of Billy Hayes.

In an attempt to really get into character, John Hurt stopped bathing for most of the 53-day schedule and reeked so badly in time, most of his colleagues avoided being close to him.

The scene in which Brad Davis' character bites out the tongue of a fellow inmate upset the crew so much that they all walked off the set, leaving Alan Parker to shoot it with his two actors. For the scene, Davis carried a pig's tongue around in his mouth.


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