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Dark Holiday 1989
Description: American tourist Gene LePere (Lee Remick), on holiday in Turkey, is hounded by a road vendor into purchasing a carved head she doesn't want. Then she is cast into prison for smuggling an antique.
Released: 01 May 1989 Director: Lou Antonio Writers: Gene LePere (book), Rose Leiman Goldemberg (teleplay) Actors: Lee Remick, Norma Aleandro, Tony Goldwyn, Roy Thinnes Genres: Drama, Thriller
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Dark Holiday Reviews:

Lee Remick is Gene LePere, an American imprisoned in Turkey accused of smuggling antiquities. Whilst much is made of Remick's blonde hair in a country of dark women, and her fear is believable, she isn't the heroic type, so her repeatedly being said how admirable she is, is unintentionally funny. The teleplay by Rose Leiman Goldemberg based on LePere's ebook Never Pass This Method Again presents Gene's buy of the stuff as by road thug intimidation, as a clue that something terrible will come of it, though Gene's experience in prison isn't as horrific as it might have been. It's a pity Goldemberg doesn't give us anything about Gene's previous life in Fresh York, since the narrative starts with Gene on the cruiseliner, since the only family connection she appears to have is an ex-husband. Director Lou Antonio uses the melody score of Paul Chihara well, and provides a conversation between Gene and her lawyer Isha (Norma Aleandro) in silhouette. The ending isn't a surprise, particularly when you cast Remick, but at least it's not too easy.


If you've seen "Midnight Express", you've cute much seen "Dark Holiday." There are a several differences. The victim in the earlier "Midnight Express" was a young boy trying to smuggle some dope out of Turkey before being tried by a corrupt court and thrown into a Turkish prison for the rest of his life. The victim here is an innocent girl tourist (Lee Remick) who, after purchasing some stone souvenirs from road peddlers, is accused of trying to smuggle antiques out of the country, is tried by a vengeful court, and thrown into a Turkish prison.It's a poor experience. When she's first incarcerated, the another girls prisoners crowd around her, plucking at her hair and clothes, breaching her American idea of private space, standing close enough to spit in her face when they speak gibberish in their barbaric tongue. And the bathroom! Not only no privacy, but the "commodes" are nothing more than holes in the floor. Savages! At least in France, as I recall, even low-class dives deliever tin footprints on every side of the hole to promote proper positioning. The meal -- ugh. It looks like muddy water and Remick does one of those almost comic takes at her first mouthful. It's no support that she demands to know, "What type of country is this?" And, "Do they discriminate vs girls here too?" (Reply from the American Embassy, "No -- not if they're wealthy and educated.") We receive the message quickly. The Vacation Inn, this ain't.The rest of the film, as far as I should bring myself to watch it, consists of prison intrigues, the attempts of mates and lawyers from outside to support her, the gradual individuation of the another prisoners into victimized and victimizers, tears, hysteria, greasy looking guys (every one of them with a mustache), petty theft, bureaucratic bungling of passports, indignation in assorted but ellegant varieties, and -- well, you can fill in the rest.No doubt the victim was innocent, or at least she seems to have been, and five to twenty years is rather a long sentence, even if she's guilty, for trying to finesse an old, fist-sized marble head past customs. My guess is that this is "based on a real story." I don't envy Gene Lapere her suffering. I wish, though, that the movie had had loftier ambitions than reinforcing the xenophobia that so many Americans already feel. A movie like this is a nice possibility to learn something about other culture, which is not really all THAT crummy when judged in the context of second-tier nations. ("Topkapi" gives us a slightly various picture of Turkey, police included.) What an occasion to learn to speak Turkish, for one thing.It's curious that for a several years there, Turkey was held up as an exemplar of corruption and olive oil. It was rather a short run, beginning with "Midnight Express" in the 1970s. Then Hollywood cast around for another villains, coming up with some curious mixtures (Russians speaking with German accents or whatever). Arabs ought actually to be nice enough for a entire generation.I'd already seen "Midnight Express" so I didn't stick with this to the end. Also, I don't see much mission in people's suffering for no particular mission -- without somehow growing because of the pain -- unless the mission of the movie is that suffering is pointless. I doubt that Gene LaPere is still suffering in a Turkish jail.


This got two stars on the late night movie channel, so I wasn't expecting to like it. But I did. Kim Hunter was believable, the storyline was unpretentious, believable and engrossing, and it appeared to be shot on zone somewhere, either Greece or Turkey. The storyline is preordained-we know she gets out of the pickle she's in or there wouldn't be a story-so it's mainly a howdunnit, and it succeeds at that, IMHO. Since it's set in a woman's prison, there's less testosterone floating around, and even the ubiquitous guards are pictured as relatively benign (even though they are armed with an unlikely mix of Uzi's AND Kalashnikovs-!), and it begins out a bit like Midnight Express, passes through Tiny Girls (but with lawyers), and winds up in Not Without My Daughter territory. By citing those another movies I don't mean to disparage Dark Holiday, aka Passport to Terror-just to give some concept what it's like. Although most of the speaking actors are not Turkish, most of the faces were unfamiliar- which is a plus as far as I'm concerned. So it's about a 40-ish American girl tourist who unintentionally commits an offense that the Turks take seriously, and she winds up in the Istanbul slammer. How she adjusts and finally gets out is the meat of the story, and it's well- done.



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