Midnight Cowboy is a 1969 American drama film based on the novel of the same name by James Lee Herlihy. It was directed by John Schlesinger and stars Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman. The film won Best Picture at the 42nd Academy Awards and was the first gay related film to recieve the award and the only x-rated winner as well.
The story follows Joe Buck, a young Texan dishwasher that dresses in cowboy attire, quits his job, packs a suitcase and hops a bus to New York City hoping to be a successful prostitute.
Despite all the controversial content in this film, it still remains a classic to this day. It is shocking in so many ways, that it make it a love or hate pic. Drug, cigarette and gay filled, it is one of the most scandalous and pretty repugnant films I’ve ever seen before, but it is all done so well, that makes it enjoyable for me to watch, despite all that. At times this film goes a bit too far, taking things to the extreme, like violent sex and just violence in general, as well as the drug scenes. Not all of this film is faithful to Herlihy’s book, many major occurrences are left out, but despite that fact, I find both to be equally good.
Jon Voight has always been a favorite actor as well as Dustin Hoffman and both are outstanding in their roles, especially Voight, who gives one of his first, but best performances and nobody could have done a better job. Hoffman does fine as Enrico Salvatore “Ratso” Rizzo in his first adult film appearance. Together both of them make a shockingly memorable pair that have gone down in movie history to be two of the greatest, yet revolting characters of all time.
The film did seem to be a bit dragged out at times, scenes were over the top, but that is what you get from an extremely adult film (x rated). Obscene? Quite. Too much? For most people it probably is. It is an acquired taste and is scandalous, but nothing like A Clockwork Orange, although both have received tons of criticism ever since their releases.
Midnight Cowboy is about more than prostitution and drugs, it is also about friendship, finding yourself, hardships, poverty and the meaning of life. It is also about learning from mistakes and consequences of doing horrible things. There are many great and not so great things about this about this film. The promiscuity and drug usage is extreme and both Joe and Ratso smoke like freight trains (but that was common then). Although this pic pushes a bit too far, it is still one of the best, not just cults classics, but films of all time. It is a true work of art, that some may not understand, but the ones that do, see it for just that. A story of young people in New York City without hope or direction in life that is portrayed so realistically. Yes, rather depressing for the most part, but that doesn’t make it an awful film, it is truly superb in far too many ways. Adults only. 4/5