Friday, June 14, 2013

Midnight Cowboy (1969)

   Slapped with an 'X' rating upon it's release in 1969, "Midnight Cowboy" is neither as shocking or boundary-pushing as is once was. That said, it still holds up as a film and as a character study of men with lives verging on desperation.

  None-too-bright Texan Joe Buck (Jon Voight) leaves his small-town home, fancying a life as a gigolo, and heads to New York City. After being tricked out of twenty dollars by physically disabled unsavory type Enrico "Ratso" Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman,) Joe finds himself homeless and quickly running out of prospects.

   Ratso and Joe end up living together in a condemned apartment building. No, they're not gay -- Ratso is vehemently homophobic, while impressionable Joe fills the loneliness in his life with random sexual encounters. While Joe is naive beyond belief, Ratso is shady and opportunistic, but by the end you manage to see the good in both of them.

   The two lead performances are good, but Dustin Hoffman steals the show as cheap swindler Ratso. It is really his, and to a lesser extent, Voight's movie, so none of the other performers are particularly memorable. I'm not entirely sure why Sylvia Miles got an Oscar Nom; she was fine but in my opinion nothing special.

   The character development of the two leads are good, and the friendship element rings true, despite the bumps along the way. Some of the the editing in the flashbacks is a bit confusing. I appreciate the fact that the filmmaker approaches the material in a radical (for its time) and unconventional way.

   Overall, "Midnight Cowboy" is an important movie in the way it deals with controversial issues and the profound grace and sympathy with which it treats its characters. It should also be commended for refusing to provide a pat Hollywood ending. This is an important movie and should not be missed.


  1. I've never sat down and watched this, and clearly I need too. Great review!

  2. Hi Steph! I've heard about this film but to this day I never knew what it was about until I read this. I had no idea it's got an X rating!


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