A harrowing true-story drama about Billy Hayes, a young American tourist imprisoned in a Turkish jail after being caught carrying drugs
A harrowing true-story drama about Billy Hayes (Brad Davis), a young American tourist imprisoned in a Turkish jail after being caught carrying drugs.
Davis is superb and the scenes of prison brutality are shocking – sadistic beatings are regular occurrences – and Hayes’ own desensitisation is best exemplified by the famous shower sequence in which he bites off a fellow inmate’s tongue.
The moralising tone, with its implication that barbarism only occurs in ‘uncivilised’ countries, becomes irritating at times but, on the whole, the film maintains audience sympathy for Hayes’ plight by admitting that he is not totally without blame.
The film won Oscars for Oliver Stone’s screenplay and Giorgio Moroder’s score and was nominated for four more, including for director Alan Parker – making only his second movie – and supporting actor John Hurt, giving a memorable performance as a burnt-out hippie junkie prisoner.