Ted Kramer's wife leaves her husband, allowing for a lost bond to be rediscovered between Ted and his son, Billy. But a heated custody battle ensues over the divorced couple's son, deepening the wounds left by the separation.
Texas greenhorn Joe Buck arrives in New York for the first time. Preening himself as a real 'hustler', he finds that he is the one getting 'hustled' until he teams up with a down-and-out but resilient outcast named Ratso Rizzo. The initial 'country cousin meets city cousin' relationship deepens. In their efforts to bilk a hostile world rebuffing them at every turn, this unlikely pair progress from partners in shady business to comrades. Each has found his first real friend. Written by
Fascinating downer about a would-be male hustler in New York City forced to live in a condemned building with a crippled con-man. Extremely bleak examination of modern-day moral and social decline, extremely well-directed by John Schlesinger (who never topped his work here) and superbly acted by Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman. Packs quite a punch overall, yet the "fantasy" scenes--some of which are played for a chuckle--are mildly intrusive, as is the "mod" drug party. The relationship that develops between the two men is sentimental, yet the filmmakers are careful not to get mushy, and this gives the picture an edge it might not have had with a lesser director than Schlesinger. Originally X-rated in 1969, and the winner of the Best Picture Oscar; screenwriter Waldo Salt (who adapted James Leo Herilhy's book) and Schlesinger also won statues. ***1/2 from ****
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