"For a nation of pigs, it sure seems funny that you don’t eat them! 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 fuck your sons and daughters because they’re pigs! You’re all pigs!"
Description: Brad Davis as American Billy Hayes lambastes the Turkish court system after his arrest overseas for drug possession in the motion picture Midnight Express (1978).
"To the Turks, everything is 'shurla burla', which means 'like this, like that'. You never know what will happen. All foreigners are 'ayip', they're considered dirty. So is homosexuality, it's a big crime here, but most of them do it every chance they get. There are about thousand things that are 'ayip', for instance, you can stab or shoot somebody below the waist but not above because that's intent to kill. So everyone runs around stabbing everyone else in the ass. That's what they call Turkish revenge. I know it must all sound crazy to you, but this place is crazy." - Billy Hayes [voiceover]
In 1970, college student Billy Hayes decides to strap drugs around his body and fly out of Istanbul. Unfortunately, he is caught in the act of smuggling and sentenced to four years for possession of hashish in Samalclar State Prison.
Life in a foreign prison soon becomes unbearable as Billy is tortured physically and mentally by Hamidou (Paul L. Smith), a sadistic prison guard who rules his prison kingdom with evil intent. Billy's family and girlfriend Susan (Irene Miracle) do everything they can to work diplomatic channels and get him the HELL out of there. But when the legal system fails him, Billy chooses an alternate route to freedom called the "Midnight Express" (escape). And he tries but fails in that endeavor.
After serving two and a half years, Billy's case came up for review, but now, Billy has only hatred for the Turkish people and their court system, and so he insults the judges (calling them Pigs!). Consequently, his sentence is increased to 30 years with an added charge of smuggling.
In 1975, the pressure of incarcerations gets to Billy and he goes berserk and bites off the tongue of Rifki (Paolo Bonacelli), an informant who hates foreigners and who was responsible getting many of his fellow prisoners punished and beaten.
For his behavior, Billy is sent to a sanitarium ward for several months where he is forced to walk in circles day after day with other disturbed patients. One prisoner among them offers words of encouragement to Billy who then begins to walk the circle in the opposite direction as a way of saving his sanity.
"Where are you going? Why don't you walk the wheel with us? What is the matter my American friend? What has upset you? Oh! I know. The bad machine doesn't know that he's a bad machine. You still don't believe it. You still don't believe you're a bad machine? To know yourself is to know God, my friend. The factory knows, that's why they put you here. You'll see... You'll find out... In time, you'll know." - Ahmet
Eventually, Billy gets his chance to change his situation when he uses $2000 that his girlfriend smuggled into the prison to bribe Hamidou to have him sent to another prison that was less harsh. But Hamidou takes the money, and attempts to rape him. Billy fights back, and kills Hamidou when he shoves him against the wall and impales his head on a peg. With Hamidou subdued, Billy sneaks out of the prison dressed as a guard.
On the night of October 4, 1975, Billy crosses the Turkish border into Greece and three weeks later flies home to his family in Babylon, Long Island USA.