Midnight Express (1978) stars Brad Davis as an American exiled in Turkey, unable to be freed and sent back to his home country after caught trying to smuggle hashish out of the foreign land. Based on a true story, Davis’ portrayal of this young man, Billy Hayes, is often seen as controversial for its gross exaggeration of the truth. One thing in particular that struck a nerve with the original audience was the negative light that the movie cast on Turks. Billy Hayes, himself, and screenplay writer, Oliver Stone, have since agreed with the assessment. Still, though, Midnight Express is a prison drama that strikes at the root of all prison life, which is trying to survive another day. Extremely dark and gritty, depicting the heinous acts of the guardsmen and warden, themselves, the prison seems more like an underground base for the mafia. Director, Alan Parker, uses the help of electronic music maestro, Giorgio Moroder, to set the tone for this drama of high stakes and higher appeals. Speaking of which, Billy holds out hope for a lasting appeal that would uphold his indefinite prison sentence. The law in Turkey is much different from America, however, or we’re lead to believe as much. Supporting actors, Randy Quaid and John Hurt, are in the same boat as Davis’ character. They are from outside the country, but committed a crime within the country’s border, which puts their fate in the hands of the country they committed the crime in. Escape seems like their best bet, but things aren’t so easy around here. Operating less like rigid prisoners and more like unkept slaves, the men quickly become overwhelmed and malnourished. The psychological toll is the most apparent, though, which is where the star of Brad Davis comes along. His portrayal is so primal and in your face that you begin to see a whole new side of crazy. A good actor can do that to you, whether their character is based on fact or fiction, which, in this case, is disputed. Still, take away the “based on a true story” line and what you have is a great look into what makes us human and what can turn us into beasts. Be prepared, as The Midnight Express is a journey of the descent into living hell.