IF ever a film was riveting from the word go it is Alan Parker's Midnight Express (Pearl, 9.30pm). The acting is superb, the direction exhilarating and Giorgio Moroder's score excellent. Everything is given greater power for being based on a true story. The film begins as Billy Hayes (who in real life would later become an actor) and girlfriend Susan (Irene Miracle) are about to leave for home after a trip to Turkey. On the alert for drug smugglers, officers at Istanbul airport catch Hayes with blocks of hashish taped to his body. In a brilliantly tense scene Billy (Brad Davis) is herded at gunpoint to a room where he is stripped and interrogated. From there he is taken to a fierce Turkish prison, where a good night is one during which no one is raped, beaten or killed. There are other Westerners in jail on drug raps - among them American Jimmy (Randy Quaid), Englishman Max (John Hurt) and gay Scandinavian Erich (Norbert Weisser), with whom Billy has a brief affair. Billy's father tries to get his son out of jail, but the Turkish authorities are intent on making an example out of him. At his trial the judges - who barely speak English and cannot understand what he is saying - sentence him to more years than Billy has fingers and toes. Back in prison he makes plans to take the 'midnight express', that is, escape. All the performances are worthy of attention. Quaid's portrayal of the slightly deranged American is outstanding and Hurt's addicted Englishman is a study in understatement. Paul Smith, as the prison guard Hamidou, is evil personified. Watch out for the scene - the gruesome scene - where he is hung out to dry on a clothes hooks. The standout of the film is Davis, who is given the task of displaying every emotion known to man. He won a British Film Academy Award for his work and should have won an Oscar. IT is probably no coincidence that In Focus: Hollywood Heroes (World, 9.30pm) is hosted by Kate Capshaw, star of Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom and wife of Steven Spielberg, a relatively well-known film director. She is not the kind of lady La-La-Land's five top male actors would want to give short shrift to. So when she called up and asked them if they were free for an interview, Arnold Schwarzenegger (now showing in Hong Kong in the big budget, big action True Lies), Tom Hanks, Harrison Ford, Keanu Reeves and Jim Carey all descended to one knee and said 'oh yes please'. And that is about it, really. The five say their bit and Capshaw intersperses what they say with commentary from eminent film journalists. IN Eye to Eye with Connie Chung (Pearl, 8.30pm) Connie herself does nothing except sit back in a comfy chair and count her pay. Russ Mitchell finds out why so many Americans are refusing to testify in cases of violence and Bernard Goldberg casts an eye over classic instructional films of the 50s, such as Are Manners Important? and Are You Popular? THE absorbing documentary series End of Empire (World, 12.50am) would be doubly absorbing if it were shown at an hour when anyone was watching. It deals with Egypt in 1956 and the Suez Canal war, one of the most traumatic events Britain and her Empire suffered. WHICH leaves either Racing Night Live (World, 8.30pm), if you like that sort of thing, or Gloria Wu and Oliver Tan looking forward to forthcoming movies on Pearl in Pearl Movie Watch (Pearl, 7.15pm). Among the films under scrutiny is tomorrow evening's better-than-average thriller An Innocent Man, which stars Tom Selleck (he of the gross Hawaiian shirts in Magnum P.I.) as an aircraft mechanic who emerges from his shower one morning to be shot and framed as a drugs smuggler.