Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Midnight Express (1978)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Midnight Express (1978)

In Alan Parker's harrowing drama with a pulsating score by Giorgio Moroder:

  • the riveting opening scene in which a twitchy, Billy Hayes (Brad Davis) taped blocks of two kilos of hashish to his body and nervously tried to board an airliner at a Turkish airport in 1970 - accentuated by his loudly-beating heart as he approached suspicious custom guards while sweating profusely, and then frisked on the tarmac as he was boarding his airplane
  • the scene of his arrest and interrogation when he was stripped at gunpoint
  • Billy's many years of imprisonment in a brutally-hellish Turkish prison when he was subjected to brutal beatings, rapes, and torture by sadistic guards - including chief guard Hamidou (Paul L. Smith)
  • the second trial scene when Billy argued for his release after incarceration for three and a half years, but then his original sentence was overturned and he was sentenced for further imprisonment "for a term no less than 30 years": ("What is there for me to say? When I finish, you'll sentence me for my crime. So let me ask you now: What is a crime? What is punishment? It seems to vary from time to time and place to place. What's legal today is suddenly illegal tomorrow because some society says it's so, and what's illegal yesterday is suddenly legal because everybody's doing it, and you can't put everybody in jail. I'm not sayin' this is right or wrong. I'm just saying that's the way it is. But I've spent three and a half years of my life in your prison, and I think I've paid for my error, and if it's your decision today to sentence me to more years, then I...My lawyer, my lawyer, that's a good one. He says, 'Just be cool, Billy. Don't get angry. Don't get upset. Be good and I'll get you a pardon, an amnesty, an appeal, or this or that or the other thing' Well, this has been going on now for three and a half years. And I have been playing it cool. I've been good. And now I'm damn tired of being good because you people gave me the belief that I had 53 days left. You, you hung 53 days in front of my face, and then you just took those 53 days away. And you, Booth! I just wish you could be standin' where I'm standin' right now and feel what that feels like, because then you would know something that you don't know, Mr. Prosecutor. Mercy! You would know that the concept of a society is based on the quality of that mercy, its sense of fair play, its sense of justice. But I guess that's like askin' a bear to s--t in a toilet")
  • the end of Billy's speech about mercy when he shrieked at the judge: ("For a nation of pigs, it sure is funny you don't eat 'em. Jesus Christ forgave the bastards, but I can't. I hate. I hate you, I hate your nation, and I hate your people. And I f--k your sons and daughters because they're pigs! You're a pig. You're all pigs!")
  • the scene in which Billy asked his girlfriend Susan (Irene Miracle) to show him her breasts by pressing them against the glass so he could kiss them and pleasure himself at the same time
Intimacy in Prison with Girlfriend Susan
  • the shocking breakdown scene in which Billy vengefully bit off the tongue of traitorous fellow prisoner Rifki (Paolo Bonacelli) with his teeth and spit it out
  • the concluding sequence of Billy's daring escape, when he was being taken by chief guard Hamidou to the sanitarium and he became the victim of an attempted rape, when the guard unbuckled and lowered his pants and approached; Billy rushed at him head-first, propelling the guard's back into a sharp coat hook and accidentally killing him; then, Billy (wearing a stolen guard's uniform) walked out the front door into the sunlight, passed a guard jeep, and ran for freedom
  • the end titles over a freeze-frame of Billy's run: ("On the night of October 4th, 1975 Billy Hayes successfully crossed the border to Greece. He arrived home at Kennedy Airport 3 weeks later"), accompanied by a montage of still-framed B/W photographs of his reunion with his family and girlfriend

Hash Taped to Billy's Torso

Interrogation at Airport

Brutal Prison Treatment

Billy's Rant During Second Trial Scene

Billy's Breakdown

The Sequence of Billy's Escape


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