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
Saw this as a young naive punk when it was first released. Had me snifflin' like a baby as I left the theatre, trying not to let anyone see. So, when I saw it again now in '07, I knew what to expect & the sobs were ready & primed as their required moment approached. Thankfully this time I was at home.
What I hadn't remembered from my youthful viewing- or perhaps hadn't noticed because of it, was the technical brilliance of this movie. The use of flashbacks which tell so much story without resorting to dialogue. The camera work which seemed to place the viewer, together with the characters in the scene. Think of the opening when Joe is crossing the street to the diner, the camera pans behind the woman & child sitting on a bench in the foreground, framing the street scene.
The story itself, & the characters - seedy, sad & brutally real. It is very touching to be drawn so closely into a human drama such as this with people most of us would likely spurn. Then again, Joe & Ratso could be any of us. Must have been '70 when I saw it. I recall that upon leaving the theatre I was impelled to find the company of friends. All these years later, I'm glad I'm not alone tonight. This is one hell of a great movie.
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