Midnight Cowboy
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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags are used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Midnight Cowboy can be found here.

Cowboy Joe Buck (Jon Voight) leaves his life as a dishwasher in Texas to become a hustler in New York City. However, his navet gets him hustled more often than not until he links up with streetwise but sickly cripple Enrico "Ratso" Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman). Together, they attempt to hustle New York's wealthy, high-society women, Ratso taking over the management side of the operation and Joe standing at stud.

Yes, Midnight Cowboy is also a 1965 novel by American novelist James Leo Herlihy. The novel was adapted for the film by American screenwriter Waldo Salt. The movie won the 1969 Academy Award for Best Motion Picture.

As a child, Ratso probably had polio, resulting in his crippled foot. Lucky him, because polio can lead to total paralysis. Most viewers think that his current illness was due to either tuberculosis or pneumonia, aggravated by the slum conditions in which he lived.

There is no clear answer in either the movie or the book as to whether or not Towny (Barnard Hughes), the man Joe picks up in a gay bar in order to get the money to buy bus tickets to Miami, dies after Joe shoves the telephone receiver in his mouth. What happened to Towny after Joe left the hotel room is not detailed. In any case, the point is not to show whether Joe killed Towny but to show how Joe, this basically gentle and nave cowboy, is reduced to violence to help Ratso, the closest thing he has to family. "I got family gdmanit!" Joe shouts to Towny.

With the stolen money, Joe gets himself and Ratso bus tickets to Miami. During the ride, Ratso (who asks Joe to start referring to him as "Rico") becomes feverish and debilitated. When Rico wets himself, Joe stops at a clothing store during a rest stop and buys them both some new clothes, discarding his cowboy outfit for clothes that suit the weather. As they approach Miami, Joe talks about getting out of the hustling business and getting a real job. When he asks Rico what he thinks and gets no answer, he realizes that Rico is dead. He notifies the bus driver, who tells him that there is nothing to do but to go on. In the final scene, Joe puts his arm around Rico and waits to arrive in Miami.

One of the questions most frequently posed after viewing Midnight Cowboy is whether Joe Buck is gay and did he and Ratso have a homosexual relationship? The answer to both questions is a resounding No. Now Joe Buck certainly participated in homosexual behavior. This cannot be denied. Yes, he looked gay in his ridiculous cowboy getup, but he was not a gay, he was merely a straight man who was forced to do things that he otherwise would not have done. In desperation, Joe turned tricks with homosexuals to survive, but this behavior did not make him a homosexual. Joe also had some horrific and unimaginable unwanted homosexual experiences in Texas that went a long way in further degrading his already fragile psyche; but none of these things made him a homosexual. As far as Joe and Ratso were concerned, they were both extremely deprived and broken human beings, Ratso physically and Joe psychologically. Joe and Ratso formed a family unit, as bizarre and fragile as it was, nothing more. Ratso Rizzo gave every indication of being asexual, mostly because of his debilitated physical condition, but nothing indicated that he had any sort of a sexual interest in Joe or anyone else. Ratso, being crippled, used his homophobic rhetoric as sort of a bravado because of his own diminished physical condition.


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