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This movie was described to me as "dark, and a little odd," and I found they weren't wrong. Such an artsy style was intriguing, but I liked how the main focus of the film was really the relationship between Rizzo and Buck. It's no wonder this was a big deal at the time, as the topics covered couldn't have been tackled much before. However, that is not to say they are not worth looking at, perhaps more so than the frivolity we so often see on screen today. Montage is one of my favorite editing techniques and is put to great use here. Of course, being a character- driven plot, the character development was great, though tough to watch at times. Still, a movie that can affect you is a film well done, yes?
A naive country boy and a timid New York con artist don't exactly conjure up the stereotypical image one has of friendships,but this is exactly what happens in Midnight Cowboy.The film illustrates that friendships can develop out of nowhere and between individuals that one would ever suspect would be friends in a million years.I had to overlook the surrealism,which I'm not really into,and the in your face sexual content which is unnecessary,but I like the basic story that it presents.Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight do some awesome acting here,as always,and I was quite taken with Brenda Vaccarro,whom I didn't realize was so awesome looking in her youth.Good film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Winner, Best Picture, 1970.
Joe Buck, a cowboy from the South, takes a bus to New York to earn money as a gigolo. Joe, a tall and attractive man, succeeds in charming ladies but doesn't get a proper trade. He befriends a sick Ratso who promises to take him to a popular pimp, who turns out to be pansy. A disgruntled Joe searches for Ratso, who evades Joe and is finally captured by Joe and is forced to return the money he owes him. When an infuriated Joe calms down, Ratso takes him to his apartment and helps Joe find a couple of woman to sleep with and they share the amount. Joe, tired of being a gigolo, decides to take Ratso to a proper medical care and Ratso dies en route.
In a way the movie brought out the harsh reality of what unemployed men not just from the South but from elsewhere resorted to- pimps and gigolos. The movie is supported by good background score and Jon Voight looks like a man straight out of a Western film.
A movie worthy of the prestigious Best Picture Oscar.
***SPOILERS*** Depressing and squalid movie about the underbelly of big
city life or better yet existence involving transplanted Texan Big, in
more ways then one, Joe Buck, Jon Voight, who thinks that he's God's
gift to women only to find out that what he's got to give them-Good O'l
fashion country style lovin-isn't exactly what their interested in;
Especially if they have to pay for it.
Joe arriving after a five day bus ride in the "Big Apple", New York City, is all set to set the town on fire in becoming a full time gigolo or hustler thinking that the women, the rich one's that is, in town will flock to him for is services. It doesn't take long for Joe to figure out that he's been deluding himself with his home grown fantasies about his sexual prowess when the first hit he makes with big time upscale city hooker Cass, Sylvia Miles, turns into to disaster for him. To Joe's shock it's Cass who demands cash for her services not the other way around!
From then on Joe's dreams of becoming a big time and high paid hustler in the big city becomes more and more of a pipe dream for him and those of us watching the movie. It's when Joe runs into petty street hustler the gimpy Ratso Ricco Rizzo, Dustin Hoffman, that his life in the city truly becomes an urban nightmare. After being stiffed out of his last dollar in an arrangement with a gay religious nut, John McGiver, by Ratso Joe, after tracking him down, later ends up working for him with Ratso, as his manager, pimping him out to mostly men not woman clients. The always coughing and hard of breathing Ratso for his part knows that he doesn't have long to live at least in the cold and unfriendly surroundings of NYC and desperately wants to travel by bus to sunny Miami Florida, the land of sunshine & coconut milk, and live out his last days there.
It's later after getting his naive country boy hustler act all together is when Joe finally realizes his dream of being a man in demand for rich women after a midnight fling with kinky socialite Shirly,Brenda Vaccaro. It's Shirly whom he met at a freaked out Greenwich village drug party when Ratso's medical condition, in having trouble breathing, turns for the worse. It's now up to Joe to save his friend's life by getting him,together with himself, on a bus to Miami before his heart gives out. The problem is where can he get the cash,some $50.00, to buy the bus tickets! Sleazy but interesting film that by the time it's finally over you do get to somehow force yourself to like both Joe & Ratso despite the low lives that they are. It's later that the two, or Ratso at least, gets what's coming to them for all the petty as well as serious crimes that they committed in the movie! One of which in the case of Joe Buck is the brutal and savage beating by him of out of town and helpless gay businessman Towny, Barnard Hughes, which could have possibly resulted in him being murdered!
P.S Being rated X at the time of its release back in the spring of 1969 must have given "Midnight Cowboy" that extra boost it needed in it's winning the Academy Award as best picture, the first and only X-rated movie to win it, the following year. That's in it being considered hip cool and ahead of it's time back then in the minds of many of those members of the Academy who voted for it and probably didn't want to miss out on their big chance of making movie history which in fact they did. Watching the movie "Midnight Cowboy" today you come to realize that not only isn't it all that great to begin with having a dumb and dumber, Ratso & Joe, cast of characters as well as a number of mindless and confusing flashbacks only put in to pad it's running time of almost two hours. And as for its X-rating that in it being released by a major Hollywood studio, with top actors staring in it, which made it so popular at the time the film's "shocking" soft core sex scenes could barley pass for a R rating with today's movie going public!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
So where to begin? This film literally leaves me at a loss for words. When I first starting watching this film, I had no idea what I was in for, and I am still a bit taken aback. Technically, the film is superb. This is obvious seeing as how it how it won the best picture academy award, and is the only X-rated film to ever do so. The cinematography is first rate, with many great scenes and shots. Additionally, the overall feel of the film is a gritty one that I am sure was used intentionally to highlight the stories bleak nature. Growing up in the generation I have, I have never been afforded the opportunity to go back and watch films like this that launched the careers of what are now established and respected actors. That being said, I also believe that many of the films of that era, ( late 60's/ early 70's) were designed to appeal to the widespread drug culture that was taking over America. The "trippy" dutch angle camera work as well as the montage at the party scene of reds, and blues, and cutting back and forth only further serves to reinforce this idea. The acting in the film is great and it is clear to see why both Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight were nominated for and won so many awards for their performances. But if I can be honest, I did not get the point. I understand the intended meaning of the film, namely the disconnect between the rich and poor during that era. However, all the film really made me was confused and a bit sad. The end of the film is on such a down note that I could not help but to feel bad. That is not to say that I did not enjoy the film, because I most certainly did, I am simply attempting to convey the point that I think the film could have ended on a less tragic note. That being said, I would definitely recommend this film to anyone who wishes to garner any knowledge on just how seedy NYC was in that period, as well as how difficult life was for the impoverished in general.
Garnering an X-rating when it was first released, Midnight Cowboy (19969) was one of those "new Hollywood" films that broke the rules. Not only did the film contain controversial story matter but, the film's style was also ahead of its time. At points in the movie when we as an audience see what a particular character is feeling the cinematographer portrays those feelings (or it seems that way) through special filming techniques. For example, the screen turns to black and white when Voight imagines catching Hoffman and when Hoffman dreams of Florida the screen turns almost too bright and lurid, and then there is the faded focus of Voight's Texas. Additionally, the scene where the two attend the party has color filters making the party seem even more "trippy". All of these serve to enhance the film's ability to make us as an audience connect to and understand the characters on screen better than a more straight-forward approach stylistically.
"Midnight Cowboy" is a 1969 movie that went beyond any other movie from that time period. While "The Graduate" only implied sexual act, this movie went beyond that, bluntly telling the audience the story of Joe Buck, a simple man set out to become a hustler, a male prostitute. Dustin Hoffman's performance as a con man with a gimp leg only electrifies the film even more as the movie glorifies crime and prostitution. This movie was decades ahead of it's time with its deep, and even offensive themes. "Midnight Cowboy" went on to earn an X rating from the Motion Picture Association and also went on to win Best Picture. What is most notable about this movie, besides it's use of camera techniques and sound, is the bravery it took to make something like this. In a time where new Hollywood was just beginning, here was a movie that implied nothing but bluntly showed the audience what it meant to say.
Midnight Cowboy covers a character, a young Texan named Joe Buck, as he
heads on out to New York City and the consequent arrival there as he
ventures in search of girls; fame; life and fortune, but generally
girls. What he ends up discovering, and what the film curiously comes
to form in its detailing, is a relationship with another male he meets
in New York native Enrico Rizzo, an equally young but dirtier, scummier
and more criminally minded man. It is through Enrico that he is able to
discover most about what it means to have aspirations and dreams in
heading on out to a place like New York City from somewhere like Texas.
In a film about a young man initially trying to hook up with as many
girls as possible, it is interesting how Midnight Cowboy manifests into
this burning and intriguing drama about two men. As the film
transcends, so too do Buck's feelings; and we feel they do as we watch
the fact that it is a male that further's the most development out of
The film is a wonderfully directed piece from John Schlesinger, someone whom would go onto make another film set in New York about a relatively fresh faced youngster forced into coming to terms with some harsh realities that lurk in and around his place of dwelling, in 1976's Marathon Man. Here, he creates an affecting coming of age piece-come-fish out of water story about a guy from simplistic enough roots heading on out to the big time but hitting head on what it is to really live when you're starting from ground zero with the hope of heading up. It is Jon Voight playing Joe, a man who packs in his menial job at the local Texan diner so as to catch the bus on out of there; he sings in the shower, excitedly; a clever montage of him getting dressed afterwards suggests a degree of perfectionism to his actions as he goes out of his way to make this particular dressing a good one. Once at the diner to say his goodbyes, he's seen to profoundly stand out amidst the drab, white clothing of the workers occupying the space with him. Yes sir, this fella is going places.
From there, it's New York City or bust as the bus rolls east; the radio plays interviews with women describing their perfect man and Buck struggles to contain his excitement: NYC cannot come soon enough. Back home, a relationship with a girl ended in a lot more than just tears and the befuddled relationship with his only family member in his grandmother has its own tale to tell; but surely it's all good from here on in. We don't initially side with Joe, it becomes apparent the women are less than easily impressionable with certain failings to woo some women greeted with soft music suggesting a mite of pity is in order. Other times see him score, but mix ups in payment and a failed attempt at becoming a male prostitute add to a growing sense of swift disillusionment with the attitude. Where Schlesinger's direction comes in is his bringing everything down in tone, particularly evident when Dustin Hoffman's aforementioned Enrico Rizzo, a con man and vagrant, enters proceedings. Like his nickname 'Ratso' might suggest, the man is scrawny and rat-like; a limp born out of Polio killing off his ability to use one of his legs seeing him uncannily skittle from place to place. Cue a series of events which allows Joe to see the real New York, as a well paced bond between the two of them form and the film morphs into this interesting character study about a fast-talking but 'scarred' man teaming up with the self-proclaimed good looking stud whom cannot much talk-the-talk. In short, they get by the best they can without literally pulling a gun on somebody and holding them up.
The film is more preoccupied with painting New York as a scummy, sleazy place of apparent no hope; something that hits home even more when we remember the film is initially about an outsider going there with so much of it. Its combining of content of a more down and out; realistic aesthetic, a studying of low level living and a generally nasty existence with people caught up in the middle of it all, with sporadic bursts of a more drug induced; more avant-gardist natured aesthetic in its dream sequences and the shooting of the day's youth down an 8MM camera lens during a rave calls to mind other such films from the era, including 1968's If.... and 1970's Catch-22. The clashing tones ought to alienate the audience, instead it plays its part in the bigger picture of things in projecting itself onto our lead as he realises that, having been situated in New York for 'x' amount of time with little return in what he wanted, a brooding sense of just why things are not making a whole lot of sense is manifesting. The two lead performers make use of the material detailing two differentiating characters in the same locale; events later transpiring to reveal Ratso is in a not too dissimilar position in New York to what Joe was back home, in that a way out is the ultimate goal and a bus ride to Florida remains the elusive dream. The film is very sad and very honest, dramatically involving in its documenting of the plights of these two and really rather well directed; culminating in an affecting, effective piece.
Joe Buck (Jon Voight) moves to New York because he has some weird
belief that rich women there will sleep with him for money. This
doesn't work so well, but he meets a hustler named Ricco Rizzo (Dustin
Hoffman) who takes him in and helps him learn the ways of the street.
The two become friends and do what they can to survive.
I enjoyed every minute of this film. The music, the characters, the presentation... it was all very well-crafted. I can't say I'm a huge Jon Voight fan, but here he did a fine job. And Dustin Hoffman did a supremely convincing job. Hoffman is always good, but this is one of his best roles, by far.
I really appreciated the very mild gay subtext, if it existed at all. You can interpret it either way. The director is gay and in the book the characters are gay, but here they are presented as straight... more "best buddies" than gay lovers. I think that's probably how we should see them, but in light of the book it's hard to say for sure. (Roger Ebert calls this a "love story", so he's weighing in, too.)
Ebert thinks the film's weakness is the psychedelic scenery, and I agree. I thought some of the flashbacks were a bit much, yet necessary, but the psychedelic parts were over the top and made this a sixties film rather than a timeless film that it might have been otherwise. I was less distracted by the scenes of 42nd Street and Tiffany's. I don't think I disapprove as strongly as Ebert, does, however, as I rate the film overall much higher than he does.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The film Midnight Cowboy is based on a novel written by James Herlihy.
It is about dreaming of the easy life of a cowboy stud, Joe Buck (Jon
Voight) goes to New York City to be a hustler, but quickly finds out
that hustling isn't what he thought it would be after he winds up
paying his first (Sylvia Miles). He gets scammed by a drifter named
Rico Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman) but, when Joe is down on his luck, Rico
takes Joe into his apartment so that they can help each other survive.
Things start to look up when Joe at last gets his first "real" female
customer (Brenda Vaccaro) at a party; Rico's health begins to fail. Joe
turns a final trick to get the money for one selfless goal: taking Rico
to his dream life in Miami.
The theme of this film is unlikely friendships; how two people who seem to be opposites and not liking each other in the beginning to become the best of friends in the end. The two guys learn how to help each other, and they grow closer and closer together. At the end of the film, Joe is holding Rico Rizzo as they continue the trip to Miami. Another scene that shows that this unlikely duo is becoming close is when it appears Joe killed the man in the hotel room so that he can get the money to get Rico to Miami. The theme of Midnight Cowboy resembles the theme of the film Of Mice and Men. The lighting and the tone that the film at the very end of the film was once that really showed what the theme of the film is. You can see palm trees passing by, and that is when Joe realizes that he has lost his best friend. They are just about to realize Rico dream of living in Miami and he passes away right before, so now Rico's dream is unrealized and Joe's dream as well. He is now on his own, after learning a lot from Rico. When Joe puts his arm around Rico, as tears stream down his face, one realizes just how strong their bond has become. Mofits were also used in the film, and it helped the viewers realize how much the two meant to each other. The two men bickered a lot in the beginning of the movie, and as their friendship grew stronger their bickering decreased. The movie didn't focus too much on many of their arguments and I think they are key to where their relationship grew to. The theme of this movie can relate to a lot of people. When you quit judging people by what they do, or look like, a friendship can be formed.
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