Midnight Cowboy (1969)
Directed by John Schlesinger
Starring: Jon Voight, Dustin Hoffman, Sylvia Miles
Joe Buck (Voight) is a naive Texas native looking to make it big as a male prostitute in New York City. From the moment he arrives he’s a target for the hustlers and hoods of the bustling city. Seeing his prospects dwindle, Joe teams up with Ratso (Hoffman) , looking for ways to survive. As the reality of this world settles in, Joe has to choose what direction to take.
One immediate note should be made, this is the only X-rated film to win Best Picture. By today’s standards the movie feels like a PG-13 or maybe an R-rated film at worst. In addition to Best Picture the film also won Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. Jon Voight (Coming Home), Dustin Hoffman (The Graduate), and Sylvia Miles (Wall Street) were all nominated for Oscars for their roles in this movie.
This is a really good story, inspired from the novel of the same name which was written by James Leo Herlihy. The characters are unique and somewhat overly exaggerated stereotypes of the places they came from. The vulnerability of the characters in the film is unique and well-written. In some ways this movie is all about vulnerability within us all. This really gave the actors something great to work with, and it translated onto the screen nicely.
Jon Voight is incredible in the lead role for this movie. His portrayal of this country boy trying to make it in the city is great. He shows the weaknesses of his character as well as the cool facade he’s learned to live behind. This is paired together wonderfully with Hoffman who portrays the needy and selfish Ratso nicely. This pair becomes a tragic version of The Odd Couple. Together these two do a wonderful job telling this story.
This movie has great camera work as well as wonderful sets to work with. The costumes and all the other aspects of this movie are dated, but they still worked well for me in this movie. The soundtrack also features one of my favorite sings, Everybody’s Talkin’ by Harry Nilsson. It fits into the film nicely, especially with the opening sequences of Voight in the city.
To be fair, this film wouldn’t even come close to an X rating if it was released today. When it was released, the film stood out for some adult themes that were very edgy at the time. There is some nudity and sexual content, but it’s essentially an R-rated film by the standards of today. If you’re interested in the Best Picture winners this is another one you should see. This is a movie full of drama and a great story. I give this one 4.3 out of 5 stars.