The movie Midnight Express was on TV Monday night, and I got sucked in. It had probably been ten years since I had seen it last, and it certainly holds up. One thing I wondered: “How did the star Brad Davis not become a Hollywood superstar?” He looked like a young Brad Pitt and was a terrific actor. He had a bit part in Chariots of Fire, but that was pretty much it for his film career until he died of AIDS in 1991. (Another interesting fact: he was a descendant of Jefferson Davis.) Here is a good article written about his widow in the NY Times in 1997, which explains that his career was done in by drugs and alcohol.
Midnight Express was about a young American named Billy Hayes who made the bad decision to try to smuggle hash out of Turkey. He wrote a book, which was turned into the great 1978 film, thought there were some discrepancies. For instance, Billy Hayes never bit out anybody’s tongue, and the story is that that scene so horrified the cast they refused to shoot it, and the director and the two actors were the only two on set when that scene was shot. Another thing which upset both Hayes and critics was how horribly Turks were depicted in the film. All of the Turkish characters were borderline evil. Anyways, as I said before, it’s a great film, one I highly recommend, and I also recommend watching the interview with Billy Hayes above. Part two of that interview is right here.