The Realm of the Ugly King

 

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On a September evening in 1974, Yılmaz Pütün was arrested for murdering a local judge at a seaside Turkish casino. An argument between Pütün’s table and the judge’s had quickly escalated to the point where Pütün had pulled out a gun and demanded everyone sit back down. When the judge confronted Pütün, demanding the gun, Pütün knocked him down. According to witnesses, the judge grabbed a chair and approached again. At this point Pütün shot him. Nearly two years later, when the trial finally concluded, Pütün was found guilty and sentenced to nineteen years in prison. Appearing in court, Pütün was often greeted by cheering crowds.[1]

 

Few, if any, of these supporters were cheering for Yılmaz Pütün, a thirty-seven year old native of Adana, however; they were applauding Yılmaz Güney, “The Ugly King,” one of Turkey’s most popular actors. Already famous internationally, Güney’s notoriety would grow in the following decade after a dramatic escape from prison and victory at the Cannes Film Festival, where he would become the first Turkish filmmaker to win top prize.

 

Between 1958 and 1974, Güney starred in over one hundred films. In most cases, he played tough guys in movies with titles like “Bloody Wheat,” “Law of the Gun,” “Blood in the Street,” and “The Ugly King.” The last title came to be his nickname—at the time most major Turkish stars were the “king” of this or that, and Güney with his rough, “eastern” looks contrasted sharply with more dashing Turkish stars.[2]

 

If a hundred films in just sixteen years seems prodigious, the number is more startling still when one realizes that, for nearly five of those years, Güney was either in the army or in prison.

 

CONTENTS

1. A Child of the South

2. Becoming the Ugly King

3. Stardom

4. A Serious Turn

5. The Road

6. Conclusion

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Yılmaz Pütün was born in a village near Adana, sometime around 1937—due to poor record keeping, he was never sure when exactly. His father, Hamit, had moved there years earlier, on the run from a blood feud in the city of Şanlıurfa, which had left both his brothers dead. His mother, Güllü, was originally from the country’s far east, but had moved to the town of Siverek during the First World War, hoping to escape the advance of the Russian imperial army. The move was sensible, given that her family were Kurdish and that the Russians preferred to back the region’s Christian populations during the war.[3]

 

In the years to come, Yılmaz often attributed much of his personality—good and bad—to his Adana upbringing. He recalled the city as a cultural hub, full of music and poetry, as well as half a dozen journals covering arts and culture.[4] He also justified his penchant for gunplay on the violent milieu of family rivalries. And, though he disliked his father, the influence was strong. In thinking of his father, the strongest memories were “alcohol, guns, and books.”[5] He recalled his father beating his mother before, ultimately, marrying another, younger woman whom he brought back to the family home one day unannounced.

 

From a young age, Yılmaz worked a variety of jobs ranging from selling simit to driving horse-carts to weighing cotton. The latter is the least surprising: Adana was the center of Turkey’s largest cotton-producing region and, over the past century, had grown from a small town connected to the Syrian economic sphere into a thriving commercial hub in its own right.[6] Most important, however, were his jobs in the local film industry. As he tells it, cinema in Adana was popular—especially in the summer when outdoor “poor theatres” sprung up for those not well dressed enough to attend the city’s more fancy cinemas.[7] Here Yılmaz watched action and adventure films, including his favorite: cowboy movies.

 

Among his early jobs was a stint as a delivery boy, carrying film reels across southeast Turkey for the regional office of And Film. It was mainly a summer job since that was the high season for outdoor cinema and because, during the school year, Yılmaz had to attend to his studies. He was a precocious student, writing short stories for a local magazine called Onüç. One of these pieces, “Three Unknowns of an Unequal System,” contained a character imagining a day when a more just order would come about.[8] Published in 1956 and deemed “communist propaganda,” the story brought Yılmaz in for official scrutiny. If not for the intervention of a local acquaintance with connections to the ruling party, he likely would have been jailed then and there. Instead, the case dragged out in the courts for another five years.[9] And by then Yılmaz had moved to Istanbul.

 

He had come to Istanbul ostensibly to study law at the city’s main university. However, his attendance was brief—a mere two months in late 1957, just long enough to get a taste of the campus’ heady political atmosphere.[10] Most of his time was spent hanging out in cafes near the campus. Friends from the time recall him as largely silent, avoiding heated political arguments while trying to participate in the literary café culture, producing stories that one acquaintance described as “imitation Kafka.”[11] The rest of his time was devoted to his work in the film industry. During the last few years of high school, he had transitioned from delivery-boy work to production. Once in Istanbul, he had looked up fellow Adana natives and hit them up for work. One, a young reporter named Yaşar Kemal, helped him connect with other Adana natives involved in the Istanbul film industry.

 

Yılmaz was entering into the Turkish movie business during boom times. Between the 1950s and 1970s, the country became one of the world’s top film producers—in 1966, only Hong Kong, India, and Japan made more and, as late as the mid-seventies, Turkish studios were producing well over two-hundred films a year.[12] Many of the studios were located around Yeşilçam Street near the city center that, consequently, has become associated with this golden age of Turkish cinema and its low-production-quality/ high-melodrama style.[13]

 

During his first three years, Yılmaz moved from doing odd jobs to helping write scenarios to appearing in film (albeit with mixed reviews). All the while, the court case hung over his head; the desire to cordon off that part of his life from his professional life led him to take on the stage name “Güney, ” a nod to his outsider status.[14]

 

In 1961, the trial was finally resolved—but not in his favor. Though the anti-communist, Democrat Party government had been overthrown in a 1960 coup, the military-bureaucratic leaders who now ruled continued to look coldly on left-wing rhetoric. Yılmaz was sentenced to eighteen months in prison followed by another six months of exile to the city of Konya. The authorities arrested him on the set of a film he was working on.
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This time in prison and exile was formative for Yılmaz both as an artist and in constructing the myth which came to surround him. Like so many Turkish artists before him, prison served as a time to collect his thoughts and plan his subsequent career moves, including writing what would become his first novel, They Died With Their Heads Bowed.[15] Beyond these activities, jail brought him into contact with a wider spectrum of Turkish society than he had known before. He recalled, for example, meeting men jailed for espionage and being shocked by the contrast between them and “the spies . . .from films I’d seen. These were odd-balls, villagers, sixty-five, seventy, eighty years old; şalvar on their legs; rubber shoes.”[16] Encounters like these convinced him that, as he was in jail for “Socialism,” he should make an effort to learn what that meant.

 

If he presented prison as crucial in shaping in his political consciousness, then his exile to Konya was equally central in forming his persona. While the city is usually associated with Rumi-style Sufi mysticism, for Yılmaz it was a place full of low-lives, gangsters, and toughs. “Just because I’d been in prison,” he explained, “Local tough guys helped me. They found places for me and I stayed with them for six months.”[17] For some of the time, he worked as a bouncer at a local bar, essentially a brothel.

 

The word Yılmaz used for his new associates, kabadayı, conveys more than simply “tough guy.” Just as the idea mafioso conjures up a sense of moral code and a responsibility to enforce order at the local level—however far from reality this ideal may be in practice—so too was kabadayı culture invested with a sense of honor, whose defence often required violece.[18] While interacting with these men, Yılmaz made note of their exploits, storing up these tales as material for future screenplays and roles.

 

While in Konya, he also struck up a relationship with a local lounge singer Birsen Can Ünal, whom he brought along to Istanbul when his term of exile was up. Back in the city by mid-1963 with an air of radicalism and tough-guy grit, Yılmaz hoped to finally make a name for himself.
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With Birsen Can Ünal, Looking at Their Daughter, Elif

 

 

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His first six months back in the city were a disappointment. Few job offers were forthcoming. As he lamented:


I couldn’t find a job . . .Why didn’t I have a chance? Why didn’t they give me opportunities? Because, by the standards of those days, all stars were handsome guys. Ayhan Işık, Göksel Arsoy, Orhan Günşiray, Ediz Hun. When these guys were walking on the street, everyone would turn and look. When I was walking on the street, nobody looked at me. Why didn’t they? Because I looked like everybody else.[19]

But this drought quickly ended and before 1963 was out, he was headlining films again; in the first, The Two of Them Were Brave, he played a notorious kabadayı, fresh out of prison and seeking to reconnect with his family. The film lay “the first stone in his myth,”[20] and presented him as:


The antithesis of the handsome ‘king’ of Turkish cinema, Ayhan, Isik, who was the ‘modest, honest, and handsome young man, well liked by his neighbors and sporting a Clark Gable mustache.’ While Isik was the king of family melodramas set in Istanbul’s lavish bourgeois houses, Guney wandered in the dark and seedy streets of Istanbul, full of crime and action.[21]

Over the course of 1964, he appeared in ten films[22]; in 1965, twenty.[23] Money and fame came fast—and Yılmaz did not hold himself back from enjoying their fruits. He liked firing off guns, driving fast cars, gambling, drinking, and the company of women other than his live-in partner Can Ünal.

 

The peak years of his fame from 1964 to 1971 feature a seemingly endless succession of fights, firearms possession arrests, and car accidents. In 1966, he hit a seven year old child while drunkenly speeding around the city of Urfa; a year later, he flipped a car; in 1970, he injured friends in yet another accident; at a backgammon game that same year, he lost thousands of lira; he was questioned by the cops for firing off his gun in a casino and arrested on another; there were brawls and knife fights.[24]

 

One fight in 1968 was begun in the name of defending his wife’s honor. The wife in question, however, was not Can Ünal, but rather Nebahat Çehre, Turkey’s 1965 Miss Universe entrant whom he’d first met on the set of Dance With a Dagger in 1964. The two had made little secret of their relationship, showing up at bars and clubs while Can Ünal remained at home. By 1966, the relationship was causing problems; Can showed up at a club to challenge the couple. A month later, Yılmaz announced his engagement to Nebahat—Can was three months pregnant and, even then, still occasionally showing up at clubs on Yılmaz’s arm.

 

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With Nebahat Çehre

 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, his marriage to Nebahat was brief. The two argued frequently and publically; on one occasion, after she attempted suicide, he followed suit, firing a gun on himself, saved only by the fact that she had removed the bullets.[25] Within two years, they were divorced and Yılmaz could be seen on the town with Sema Özcan, his co-star from Murder is My Right.

 

By the time of his divorce, he had been drafted into the army. Like all Turkish men, he was required to perform two years of military service, but by the age of thirty he had yet to do so. When the army finally confronted him (once more on the set of a film) and demanded he do his service, he was left with few options. Between May of 1968 and March of 1970 he served in Sivas and Muş; though these cities were far from Istanbul, he still managed to star in eight movies, either filmed on location in Muş and Sivas or quickly made during holiday breaks back in Istanbul.[26]

 

Nor did military routine slow down his fast living. His furloughs remained packed with scuffles and accidents, including some of the aforementioned car accidents and firearms arrests. Moreover, Yılmaz was fêted as a star by locals and returned the favor by splurging on parties and, on one occasion, after attending a local football match, paying for the meals of all the players and fans.[27] During one of his furloughs in 1969, the thirty-one year old even managed to find a new wife: Jale Fatma Suleymangil, the seventeen year old daughter of a conservative factory owner. Yılmaz had first noticed her while filming in the Bosporus neighborhood of Beykoz; by 1970, the two were married.
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Milliyet 4 17 73 Guney

On Trial in 1973

 

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With Jale Fatma and Son, Yılmaz

 

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What Yılmaz emphasized about his time in the military was not his continuing frivolity. Instead, he depicted it as a time of intellectual development. It was, according to him, the first time he was able to read the works of Lenin, Marx, and Mao “systematically.”[28] And, upon finishing his service, his work certainly did begin to reflect a shift in focus. Whereas much of his past work had been thoroughly rooted in the familiar Yeşilçam style of action and melodrama centered on cowboys and kabadayılar, his new films were reflective of the social-realist trends popularized in countries like Italy and India—a focus on society’s downtrodden, using real locations, non-professional actors, and emphasizing themes of frustrations, defeat, and hopelessness.

 

The first of his post-army films, Hope is the most radical in this regard. It focuses on a hapless carriage driver driven mad in his attempt to provide for his family. Shot in black and white, the film recalled works like The Bicycle Theives and other classics of neo-realist cinema. Subsequent films like Father and The Hopeless Ones were shot in color and contained a bit more kabadayı-centered melodrama, but still upended the traditional expectations audiences had for a Yılmaz Güney film—namely that he would wreak vengeance on those who wronged him. Such a shift has led many critics two discern a conscious attempt to “dismantle his own star image.”[29] Yılmaz played up this idea of intentional transformation as well, explaining:


We [he and a fellow actor[30]] are the whores of Turkish cinema . . .but now we want to escape this harlotry. By taking this whoreishness in hand, we are trying to cleanse its filth; Hope is a new start for me.[31]

Then again, he was simultaneously acting (and writing and directing) films like Live Target, which retain the familiar Yeşilçam structures, as well as including scenes of shocking misogyny, which make him a “problematic” filmmaker to idolize.[32]

 

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Poster for Father

Beyond cinema, he was also becoming involved in left-wing political activity. In early 1971, he met with representatives of the Turkish People’s Liberation Party Front (THKP-C) and promised them money and weapons. Within two months, the group had kidnapped and murdered Israel’s Istanbul Consulate General. In the nighttime searches that followed on May 22-23, Yılmaz’s house was searched and he was arrested for possession of banned left-wing materials and receipts connecting him to the group. During the trial that followed, he continued to write, direct, act, and produce films.

 

Yet the THKP-C trial (to whose charges he admitted and claimed regret) was but one of several prosecutions he was facing. A second focused on his decision to submit his film Hope to the Cannes Film Festival when it was still banned by the Turkish censorship board.[33] This case was dropped, but a third prosecution relating to possession of unlicensed firearms led to a five-month conviction in 1973.[34] As the terrorism trial wore on, calls for his pardon grew and in 1974, he was included in a mass pardon by new center-left government.

 

Out of prison again, he continued to emphasize his transition away from his old style and his developing political consciousness. At the time of his release he reiterated that:


The ‘Ugly King’ was a kabadayı . . .Within the conditions of those days, this situation was unavoidable . . .Conditions in today’s Turkey have changed, and within these conditions, Yılmaz Güney has changed too . . .[Previously] we were a tool for some guys—especially producers—to make a lot of money [at the audience’s expense]. From here on out, we will form more healthy ties with our people.[35]

A month later, speaking at a massive rally organized by unions and student groups, he criticized the current regime, explaining:


I’m not saying all I could say. I am censoring my words. I am policing within my own head. If this isn’t fascism, what is? This is sufficient evidence of fascism. Our duty is to end the bloody dictatorship of fascism and industry.[36]

Meanwhile he set to working on a new film, Friend, which focused on two childhood friends reconnected—one now quite rich. The poorer of the two begins to convey the unjustness of the social structure to his friend while simultaneously falling in love with his wife. The film was new for Yılmaz in that it centered on the middle and upper-class rather than the poor or underworld figures. This film finished, he began production of yet another, Anxiety, which focused on the difficulties faced by Turks in the countryside. It was during filming in his home province of Adana that he was arrested once more for murdering a local judge.
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Poster for Friend

 

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In searching his room following his arrest, police found a Materialist Philosophy Dictionary and a copy of Maxim Gorki’s Letters, Philosophical Principles. It was these sort of details that led supporters to suspect a set up. For his part, Yılmaz did not admit to the murder, arguing:


Look, I’m not saying I can’t kill a man—I could. If I encountered a danger and that was my only solution, I could do it. But a drunk guy who falls down with every punch and kick—why would I kill him?[37]

A cousin (not seated at Yılmaz’s table, but who claimed to have been idling in the background) stated that he had committed the murder to protect his famous relation, but the courts did not give this much credence.[38] Issues of what gun and which bullets had been used also clouded the issue.[39] Yet, when the trial finally concluded in 1976, Yılmaz was sentenced to nineteen years in jail.

 

As far as jail can be, Yılmaz’s first four years seem to have been rather pleasant. Turkey’s permissive furlough policies meant that he could visit his family periodically and was even allowed to supervise the production of the films he continued writing. As late as September 1980 he was still throwing parties for his fellow prisoners on Imralı Island.[40] Despite his conviction for murdering a state official, the government was even willing to engage with him on a professional basis. Case in point: following the release of Midnight Express, an American film that depicted Turkish prisons as hellholes, the government agreed to support Yılmaz in making a film to counter that image.[41]

 

The film was to be called “Holiday” and focus on the benefits of the furlough system. Giving its propaganda purpose, the newly (self) appointed military regime threw its support behind the production, even allowing soldiers to work security detail for the crew when filming in the volatile southeast. Yılmaz, meanwhile, maintained close control over the production, writing the scripts, selecting directors, and watching dailies. Unbeknownst to the authorities, however, he was having copies of the film shipped to Sweden.

 

On November 9, 1981, Yılmaz left prison on a six-day furlough to see his mother in the eastern city of Muş. Instead, he headed south and on November 12, escaped to the Greek island of Rhodes in a small fishing boat. From there, Athens; then Paris, then Marseilles, finally arriving in Zurich five days later before, ultimately, returning to France when the Swedish government refused to grant him asylum.[42]

 

Beyond the reach of the Turkish state, he reedited the “Holiday” film project into something altogether different and deeply critical of the regime in Turkey. The result was The Road, a film following five furloughed prisoners as they slowly realize that beyond the prison walls, all of Turkey has become one great spiritual prison.[43]

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Poster for The Road

 

Besides being a harsh indictment of the current regime by an escaped felon, the movie also angered Turkish authorities for its inclusion of Kurdish dialogue and the term “Kurdistan.” Unsurprisingly, the film—and, ultimately, all Yılmaz Güney films—were banned in Turkey. Undeterred, he submitted the film to the 1982 Cannes Film Festival where it received top honors alongside a film by Costa-Gravras, a left-wing Greek director. Yılmaz dramatically showed up to accept the award. After repeated efforts to extradite him had failed, the Turkish government stripped away his citizenship and added another seven and a half years to his sentence for an article he had written two years earlier, which was determined to be “communist propaganda.”[44]

 

During the following two years, with financial support from the French government, Yılmaz produced one more film, The Wall, focusing on the state of Turkish children’s prisons. Besides the bleak subject matter, the film caused additional controversy when it came to light that Yılmaz was slapping child actors on set in the interests of achieving his desired “realism.” He also “scandalized the leftist community in France” by associating with Elia Kazan, the Turkish-born director of On the Waterfront, still persona non grata in left-wing circles for having named names during the McCarthy hearings. [45] Whether these faux pas would have hurt his subsequent film career in France was mooted by his battle with stomach cancer—a battle that he lost on September 9, 1984 in a Paris hospital.
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Accepting the Palme d’Or at Cannes

 

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Thirty years after his death, Yılmaz Güney remains incredibly popular in Turkey. Though the Yeşilçam-era of high theater attendance has faded since the mid-seventies due to the spread of television, his films continue to be rerun on the newly dominant medium. His ban for many years expanded his symbol from one of manliness and the marginalized into one of resistance as well.[46] Leftists hang posters of him alongside those of Deniz Gezmiş, the other great Turkish symbol of rebellion. For Kurdish activists, his poster (alongside Ahmet Kaya perhaps) is also de rigueur.

 

But, as the foregoing account of his life suggests, Yılmaz Güney, the man, seldom lived up to Yılmaz Güney, the symbol. Despite his careful attention to molding his own myth, his actions were often confusing symbolically. He lived a life full of thrill seeking and lavish, prodigal spending—in short, living it up in a society whose social order he claimed was demonstrably unfair. He decried censorship, but attended banquets and award ceremonies hosted by the military regime. He appeared in patriotic, anti-Greek films and donated award money to military charities.[47] He treated women in his life terribly and inhabited roles that valorized some of the more misogynistic tendencies in Turkish culture . . .

"ÇÝRKÝN KRAL" TAHTINDAN ÝNDÝRÝLEMÝYOR 1969 YILINDA ÝLKÝ ADANA ALTIN KOZA FÝLM ÞENLÝÐÝ ADI ALTINDA DÜZENLENEN VE BU YIL 20. KEZ ÖDÜL VERÝLEN FESTÝVALDE 4 AYRI DALDA 12 ÖDÜL ALAN TÜRK SÝNEMASI'NIN "ÇÝRKÝN KRAL" LAKAPLI SENARÝST, YÖNETMEN, YAZAR VE AYNI ZAMANDA AKTÖRÜ YILMAZ GÜNEY TAHTINDAN ÝNDÝRÝLEMÝYOR ÝLK ALTIN KOZA FÝLM FESTÝVALÝ'NDE YAZIP, YÖNETÝP, OYNADIÐI SEYÝTHAN FÝLMÝYLE EN ÝYÝ 3. FÝLM VE EN ÝYÝ ERKEK OYUNCU ÖDÜLÜNÜ ALAN GÜNEY, 3. ALTIN KOZA FÝLM FESTÝVALÝ'NDE 3 AYRI FÝLMDE 6 AYRI DALDA ÖDÜL ALARAK BÝR DAHA ULAÞILAMAYAN BÝR REKOR KIRDI

Enjoying Life

 

Then again, the demand for consistency—the demand that art and life mirror opinion—is consistently thrown at performers. Whether it be Sean Penn, Barbara Streisand, or some other impassioned celebrity, the failure to live one’s own rhetoric is always used to devalue and dismiss the arguments themselves. Such logic may set the bar too high for actors who, at day’s end, are simply trying to make sense of the world like everyone else—albeit from a more public position. It has been argued—specifically in relation to Turkish stars, but likely true elsewhere—that audiences personalize stars, relating to them as one does family and friends.[48] And viewed from such a perspective, Yılmaz’s failure to live up to his ideals becomes less egregious—certainly more understandable.

 

Much like fellow left-wing icon Nazim Hikmet, Yılmaz’s vision of leftism could be dubbed “romantic”—or, as one critic put it, “the stuff of populist melodrama.”[49] Like so many other inhabitants of Turkey, he grew up poor, in a violent, patriarchal environment; though he perceived the system around him to be unfair, the moral universe that he valued did not always allow him to break with his own contradictory habits—violence clearly reinforced the world’s inequalities, but it also seemed to make a man a man. Saints aside, this degree of confusion is the case for most people and, intuiting this, his fans have looked past his lapses and identify with him.

 

As the father of Yılmaz’s seventeen-year-old fiancé scoffed upon first seeing pictures of him, “There’s a hundred guys like him in my factory.”[50]

 

Indeed.

 

 

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[1] “Yılmaz Güney, Adana’da bir yargıcı öldürdü,” Milliyet, 9/15/74, pp. 1, 11; “Yılmaz Güney “Cinayet Sucundan” Tutuklandi,” Milliyet, 9/16/14, pp. 1, 10; “GÜNEY,’HAKİMİ BEN ÖLDÜRMEDİM’ DEDİ,” Milliyet, 10/26/74.

[2] Examples: Ali Cemali (King of Cinemas), Orhan Gunsiray (King of Adventure), Hayri Ipar (King of Sugar), Ozturk Serengil (King of Twist), İlham Gencer (King of Dance Orchestra), Adem Cavdar and Hasan Kazankaya (King of Night Clubs), Erkut Taçkın (King of Ye Ye), Suleyman Sirri Prodan (King of Harassing Tough Guys), Musevi Yasef Kalavra (King of Beggars), Metin Okay (King of Goals), and Fahrettin Arslan (King of Casinos) [listed in Turhan Feyizoğlu, Yılmaz Güney: Bir Çirkin Kral, Istanbul Ozan Yayıncılık, 2011, p. 123].

[3] Though, as Michael Reynolds points out in his discussion of Russia’s occupation of Anatolia, the Russian army often attempted to treat populations in the region equally, resulting in tensions between it and local allies seeking to gain an upper hand (“The Ottoman Russian Struggle for Eastern Anatolia and the Caucasus, 1908-1918: Identity, Ideology, and the Geopolitics of World Order,” Unpublished Thesis, Princeton University, 2003, pp. 258-95).

[4] Turhan Feyizoğlu, Yılmaz Güney: Bir Çirkin Kral, Istanbul Ozan Yayıncılık, 2011, pp. 20-22. A perusal of the footnotes will make clear that much of this essay leans on Feyizoğlu’s book. Like other books by the author, this work is vital in that it collects anecdotes and facts that can be found in no other single volume. Unfortunately, it is organized by topic rather than chronology and is prone to listing—which make it hard to follow.

[5] Feyizoğlu, p. 69.

[6] For an interesting economic history of the Adana region, see Meltem Toksöz, Nomads, Migrants and Cotton in the Eastern Mediterranean: The Making of the Adana-Mersin Region 1850-1908, Leiden: Brill, 2010.

[7] For whatever reason, Adana and the surrounding region was also home to a thriving film award culture; by 1965 İskenderun, Adana, and Gaziantep were all holding film festivals and award ceremonies (Feyizoğlu, p. 163).

[8]Çirkin Kral mitosu,” NTV-MSNBC, 11/18/?.

[9] Feyizoğlu, p. 321.

[10] Students were generally—then and now—opposed to the government and its representatives. At the school’s annual convocation, the rector was booed for giving words in praise of the government (Feyizoğlu 34-5). Student protests would ultimately play a significant role in the government’s overthrow in 1960.

[11] Feyizoğlu, p. 38.

[12] Dilek Kaya Mutlu, “Between Tradition and Modernity: Yeşilçam Melodrama, its Stars, and their Audiences,” Middle Eastern Studies, 46(3), May 2010, p. 417.

[13] For a good overview, read Savaş Arslan, Cinema in Turkey: A New Critical History, New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

[14] Güney in Turkish means “south.” Feyizoğlu, p. 39.

[15] Maureen Freely, “The Prison Imaginary in Turkish Literature,” World Literature Today, November 1, 2009, pp. 46-50.

[16] Feyizoğlu, p. 327.

[17] Feyizoğlu, p. 243.

[18] Roger Deal, Violent Crime in Hamidian Istanbul: 1876-1909, Unpublished Dissertation, University of Utah, 2006, pp. 69-82.

[19] Feyizoğlu, p. 103.

[20] Giovanni Scognamillo, Türk Sinema Tarihi, Istanbul: Kabalci Yayinevi, 1998, p. 369.

[21] Arslan, p. 180.

[22] Halime’den Mektup Var (A Letter From Halime), Her Gün Ölmektense (To Die Everyday), Kamalı Zeybek (Dance With a Dagger), Kara Şahin (Black Hawk), Kocaoğlan (“The Brave”), Koçero [the name of a famous contemporary bandit], Mor Defter (Purple Notebook), On korkusuz Adam (Ten Fearless Men), Prangasız Mahkumlar (Unchaind Convicts), Zımba Gibi Delikanlı (Youth Like a Punch)

[23] Gönül Kuşu (Bird of the Heart), Haracıma Dokunma (Don’t Touch My Tribute), Kahreden Kurşun (Damned Bullet), Kan Gövdeyi Götürdü (Blood Bath), Kanlı Buğday (Bloody Wheat), Kasımpaşalı (From Kasımpaşa), Kasımpaşalı Recep (Recep From Kasımpaşa), Konyakçı (Cognac Drinker), Korkusuzlar (The Fearless Ones), Krallar Kralı (King of Kings), Sayılı Kabadayılar (Exemplary Tough Guys), Silaha Yeminliydim (I Was Sworn to the Gun), Sokakta Kan Vardı (There Was Blood in the Street), Tehlikeli Adam (Dangerous Man), Torpido Yılmaz (Yılmaz the Torpedo), Üçünüzü de Mıhlarım (I’ll Nail the Three of You) Yaralı Kartal (Wounded Eagle), Ben Öldükçe Yaşarım (As I’m Dying I’ll Live), Beyaz Atlı Adam (The Man With the White Horse), Dağların Oğlu (Son of the Mountains), Davudo.

[24] Feyizoğlu, pp. 257-300

[25] Feyizoğlu, pp. 408-422.

[26] Belanın Yedi Türlüsü (Seven Kinds of Trouble), Bin Defa Ölürüm (I’ll Die A Thousand Times), Bir Çirkin Adam (An Ugly Man), Çifte Tabancalı Kabadayı (Two-Gunned Tough Guy), Güney Ölüm Saçıyor (Güney Strews Death), Kan Su Gibi Akacak (Blood Will Flow Like Water), Kurşunların Kanunu (The Law of the Bullets).

[27] Feyizoğlu, p. 159.

[28] Feyizoğlu, p. 332. For an interesting work on the relationship between the Turkish army and left-wing thought in this period, see Özgür Mutlu Ulus, The Turkish Army and the Revolutionary Left: Military Coups, Socialist Revolution and Kemalism, New York: I.B. Tauris, 2011 (though, the title should really be reversed as it focuses much more on the relationship of the intellectuals to the army rather than what is implied).

[29] Arslan, p. 182.

[30] Tuncel Kurtiz, who appeared with him in Hope.

[31] Feyizoğlu, p. 118.

[32] Arslan, pp. 180-7; Bilge Ebiri, “Yılmaz Güney,” Senses of Cinema, October 2005. Specifically a scene in which Güney sexually assaults a woman with a snake.

[33] “Umut’u Cannes’a kaçırdığı için Yılmaz Güney yargılanacak,” Milliyet, 7/2/71, p. 9.

[34] “Yılmaz Güney silâh taşımaktan 5 aya mahkûm oldu,” Milliyet, 3/8/73, p.1.

[35] Feyizoğlu, pp. 200-1.

[36] Feyizoğlu, p. 355.

[37] Feyizoğlu, p. 303.

[38] Abdullah Pütün, the cousin who had claimed responsibility for the judge’s murder, was killed in 1981. Even at the time of the judge’s murder, he had asserted that he had many enemies—precisely the reason he had brought a gun to the casino that fateful night (“Yılmaz Güney’in ağır yaralanan yeğeni öldü,” Milliyet, 7/8/81, p. 8).

[39] “GÜNEY,’HAKİMİ BEN ÖLDÜRMEDİM’ DEDİ,” Milliyet, 6/5/75, p. 1, 10.

[40] Turan Aksoy, “Imralı’da hükümlü moral günü,” Milliyet, 9/1/80.

[41] There are suggestions that Midnight Express was funded with Greek money in a conscious effort to make Turkey look bad (Feyizoğlu, p. 215).

[42] His reason for escape (beside the fact that he denied the charges) was: “My life and work conditions had reached a truly impossible point. For a time, I had tried to make films, but then my films and books were banned; this narrowing pressure opened the way for my escape” (Feyizoğlu, 230).

[43] Or, as a narration added by the American studio Columbia in order to contextualize Turkish cinema for American audiences put it: “This time, however, the prison is more inescapable and more oppressive. It is constituted by the political hegemony of the dominant classes or by feudal oppression. One by one, the prisoners are hit hard by the fact that they have been released from a small prison into a larger one” (Asuman Suner, “Speaking the experience of political oppression with a masculine voice: Making feminist sense of Yilmaz Güney’s Yol, Social Identities, 4(2), June 1998).

[44] “YILMAZ GÜNEY CEM KARACA Yılmaz Güney ile Cem Karaca vatandaşlıktan çıkarıldı,” Milliyet, 1/7/83, p.1; “Yılmaz Güney, gıyabında 7.5 yıl hapse mahkûm oldu,” Milliyet, 3/18/83, p. 9.

[45] Both controversies are mentioned in Arslan, p. 14. Video of Yılmaz slapping child actors was recorded in the documentary Duvarın Etrafında—watch the first five minutes, for example.

[46] The ban on his work was finally lifted fully in June 1991 (“Yılmaz Güney’in filmlerine özgürlük Yasaklı eserler artık serbest,” Milliyet, 6/15/91, p. 1).

[47] Feyizoğlu, p. 185, 190.

[48] Dilek Kaya Mutlu, “Between Tradition and Modernity: Yeşilçam Melodrama, its Stars, and their Audiences,” Middle Eastern Studies, 46(3), May 2010.

[49] Bilge Ebiri, “Yılmaz Güney,” Senses of Cinema, October 2005.

[50] Feyizoğlu, p. 458.

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