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In a Nutshell:
A young American is caught attempting to smuggle drugs out of Istanbul and thrown into a brutal Turkish jail.
Everybody gave up on Billy Hayes -- except Billy.
Tex: 'You seem like a nice enough guy to me, Billy. But you try it and I'll blow your f**king brains out.'
Max: 'The best thing to do is to get your ass out of here. Best way that you can.'
Billy: 'Yeah, but how?'
Max: 'Catch the midnight express.'
Billy: 'What's that?'
Max: [laughs] 'Well it's not a train. It's a prison word for... escape.'
Billy Hayes: '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 society says it's so, and what's illegal yesterday is suddenly legal because everybody's doin' it, and you can't put everybody in jail. I'm not saying this is right or wrong. I'm just saying that's the way it is. But I've spent 3 1/2 years of my life in your prison, and I think I've paid for my error.'
23-year-old American Billy Hayes is on his way home from a holiday with his girlfriend in Istanbul, Turkey.
Unbeknownst to anyone else, Hayes has bought two kilograms of hashish off a taxi driver to sell to friends back home, and strapped it to his body.
Sweating, he makes it through airport security, only to be detained as he attempts to board the plane.
Arrested, questioned and stripped of his clothes and dignity, Billy is told if he co-operates with the authorities and helps find the taxi driver, he will be released.
Soon he finds himself in Istanbul’s most brutal jail, guarded by fearsome wardens and screaming peacocks.
In prison, he befriends some fellow inmates and is exposed to unprovoked mental and physical torture by the prison staff.
At first imprisoned on a short-term basis, the Turkish authorities decide to make an example of him and his sentence is extended due to the drug-related nature of his crime.
He is told that the only way out is to ‘catch the midnight express’ - the prison term for escape.
Billy's father and girlfriend travel to Istanbul to fight for his release, but after a provoked attack on another prisoner he finds himself transferred to a harsher section of the jail, where the hope of returning home seems even less likely.
Written by: Fiona Burt