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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Midnight Cowboy is one of the most unique films I have ever seen. The
film starts by introducing Joe Buck (Jon Voight) to us. We see him
getting dressed in his cowboy suit and packing his suitcase. His suit
is loud, with his bright shirt and cowboy hat, in an era that most
people did not dress that way. He seems somewhat surreal and over the
top. He goes to what seems to be his job and quits because he intends
to travel to New York City from Texas. We are not quite sure what his
intentions are. He mentions, to a friend, that he wants to become a
male hustler when he arrives in New York. He meets many different
people on the bus to New York. During this time, we see that Joe is
essentially a nice person. There is a scene where he makes friendly
gestures towards a kid. This scene is ironic because we get the
impression that Joe is also a child. He seems very naive in almost
every way. His naiveté is shown in the way he dresses, thinking himself
to be a cowboy, in the way he acts, in the way he feels it is going to
be easy to be a male hustler, and in the way he feels living in New
York is going to be so much easier than living in Texas.
When Joe arrives in New York, he realizes that it was not going to as easy as he thought. He tries to get women to notice him and realize that he is a male hustler but to no avail. One woman does notice him and they have sex. Then she asks him for money for a cab before he asks for money for the sex. When he does, she breaks down and cries. Joe, being a genuinely nice person, offers her money for the cab and she eventually receives twenty dollars. This scene shows how naive Joe really is. Eventually Joe meets the other protagonist in the film, Rico Salvatore Rizzo a.k.a. "Ratso" Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman). Ratso seems to know the ropes and how the city works. He has one limp leg and he does not look like a very trustworthy person at first glance. Eventually, the two create a friendship after Joe needs a place to live and Ratso lets Joe live with him. Together, they meet hard times, without money and they live through a winter without heat.
Each main character has a plan or a dream. Joe wants to become a successful male hustler in order to become rich while Ratso wants to go to Florida and live there. It seems, while watching the film, that neither character will achieve his dream. It is sad, but realistic because, for most people, things do not work out the way they plan. In America, we have been taught that anyone can do anything; that is the American dream. This film shows quite the opposite. Joe never becomes a successful hustler and Ratso dies at the end of the film. Midnight Cowboy film mirrors Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper's Easy Rider. Both films deal with journeys and the destruction of the American dream. Both films have sad endings and do not leave the audience with any good feelings. At the end of the film, Joe's naiveté leaves him at the end of the film. When Joe and Ratso arrive in Florida, Joe has to be one in charge because Ratso is unable to walk. Joe buys new clothes and dumps his cowboy outfit. This is the first time we see him without it. After Ratso dies, we know that Joe has to fend for himself and grow up.
As I said before, this was a unique film. It had great performances by Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman. It was superbly directed by John Schlesinger. The film still seems to be odd to me but a likable film nonetheless. It will go down as one of the best modern classics out there. I recommend the film. Even though I am not sure everyone will like it, it is still a film everyone should see.
I remember being disappointed at not being old enough to see this movie when it was first released. I would have to wait another 11 years to see it on video,but it was worth the wait.No movie I have seen since has captured the loneliness and dependence of two souls in an cold city. Shot in New York it could have easily have been Toronto or even Minneapolis anyplace the temperature dips below freezing. I felt cold when Ratso and Joe Buck were cold. When they were hungry I felt the pangs as well. Dustin Hoffman & Jon Voight inhabited the characters and at once made we want to help and "walk faster". The movie perfectly snaps a shot of the late sixties and preserves the psychedelia and pace. This is a must see for anyone who claims to love movies
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A ride on an emotion roller-coaster would be the best way to describe
the film Midnight Cowboy, by director John Schlesinger. The ups and
downs that the protagonist Joe Buck (played by John Voight) is
subjected to truly throw the viewer around as if they were an up and
coming hustler themselves. It is a story of starting a whole new life
in a strange new world, thinking that you really know what you're
after, and yet finding that the life you thought you wanted doesn't
want you. Joe Buck is a young "stud" that is trying to pursue a career
in hustling the rich middle aged women of New York City. He soon finds
himself homeless, broke, and beat up by urban society. He becomes a
lonely "midnight cowboy" roaming the streets, with his manager Enrico
Salvatore 'Ratso' Rizzo (played by Dustin Hoffman), searching for
whatever trick he can find.
Joe leaves Texas as an innocent young man with visions of the illustrious urban life. We come to find out that his emigration from Texas to New York City isn't just driven by dreams, but also by the yearning to cover up a past of abandonment and bad memories. This would become a reoccurring theme in the film, one of being left by the people who are closest to you, with most incidences being revealed in flashback form. Joe is first dumped on his grandmother by his mother and aunt (or two mothers) at a young age, and she soon became his mother figure. Joe then acquired a girlfriend as a teenager/young adult and is left by her due to some sexual assault altercations that are revealed to the viewer in graphic reoccurring nightmares and daydreams. The last flashback memory of feeling alone is a scene of Joe returning to his home after serving in the army. He is shown sitting on the steps of his grandmother's dilapidated house, and we come to find that he is just as abandoned as the house.
Once Joe reaches New York City he is soon hit with the reality of his situation. Many up-scale women are not into being hustled, cowboys have come to be seen as having a homosexual connotation, and the only place he can find work as a cowboy is in a modern art exposition that is actually an abstract art trip fest. It is here he solidifies the only real work he gets as a hustler, other than beating up a gay preacher who is "sorry for his sins".
In dealing with living in a condemned house, not knowing where your next meal is coming from, and taking care of his dying manager Rico, Joe realizes that maybe hustling and living in the city isn't for him. He is forced to discard the life he thought he was made for and travel south to Florida for Rico's sake. Once the two make it to Florida, and obtain dapper beach-life attire, Rico takes a turn for the worst and passes away, sealing the theme of abandonment in the film. Joe is left alone, and must roll with the punches of life once again.
I believe this film is about the trials a traditionalist goes through while trying to assimilate themselves in a modern culture. Joe knows what New York City symbolizes, wealth and a new way of life, but he doesn't understand how it functions because he hasn't the experience to know better. This film probably played a big role in opening the countries eyes up to the new down and outers of society, and what life has come to for them. The majority of the tricks Joe found were homosexuals in the late 60s who were then only lurking in the shadows and trying to stay unnoticed by the radar of society. The explicit nature of the film brought to light the underbellies of the late 60s culture, and did it so well that even though it created and uproar with its release it still has been the only X (NC-17) rated film to ever win Best Picture by the Academy.
This is one of the best American movies of the 60's. Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman inhibit their roles and take you on a sad journey through their lives. Bob Balaban and Sylvia Miles are memorable in small roles. For an unforgettable movie experience, "Midnight Cowboy" is unsurpassed.
Texan Joe Buck (Jon Voight) quits his dish washing job and heading out
east to be a gigolo in NYC. He sees himself as a real ladies man but
he's actually quite naive in the big city. He's so naive that he loses
money after sleeping with a rich lady. He meets real hustler limping
Ratso Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman) who cons him out of more money. He's so
broke that he does gay sex which he again gets nothing for. He runs
into Rizzo and they form an odd friendship. Buck is haunted by his past
while Rizzo dreams of living in Florida.
Jon Voight is great and Dustin Hoffman makes one of the greatest character of all cinema. They form an iconic movie team. It's down and dirty. It's also a bit of fun. There's a good sense of decay in New York. The song "Everybody's Talking'" is immediately identifiable to this movie. It's also got one of the most heart breaking final scenes. It is an important American film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw this movie twice when it was in the theaters, way back when. The
first viewing I was sort of hypnotized by the characters and their
plight, and of course the bittersweet ending. The second viewing was
just as spell-binding but in a different way. The second time around I
could better take it in without being surprised by all that came by me
on the screen. It is one of my favorite movies of all time.
The ending is very sad and very sweet. The cinematic journey to get to that ending is what makes the film a gem. The performances of both Voight and Hoffman are outstanding. I challenge anyone to find a film that contains two performances any better, any richer in the same movie. There were several ground-braking films in the late 60s; 2001: A Space Odyssey and Easy Rider to name two. Midnight Cowboy is one more.
This movie was made in the old days and the way when a good film had reality and an emotional content contained within it that truly reflected the human emotion and its real experiences. This was one of Jon Voight's early movies, one of his best, not to mention the Odessa Files, and my favorite film of his "The Runaway Train" with Eric Roberts and Rebecca DeMornay. No one hardly ever sees movies like this anymore because of Censorship. This movie depicts the dark underground and shady characters, and the low life elements of New York City where a newcomer can easily fall prey to their greed and use him to the last of drop of humanity he had left. If you wish to see a truly RAW movie, I suggest this one because it is one of the best ever made with Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman. Enjoy the ride as it is an unforgettable experience!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In 1969, box-office kings Jon Voigt and Dustin Hoffman were relatively
new. Both did a few well- known things before, but they did not have
their feet firmly planted and were still ready to tackle the toughest
roles of their careers thus far in the most risqué movie they have
done. This is the only X-rated movie to ever win the Oscar for Best
Picture. Although it is not rated X anymore, this is not one everybody
will be comfortable with, but it is one to see comfort or not. Not only
did Voigt and Hoffman nail their parts and give the two best
performances of 1969, but the movie itself is one to be treasured for a
Joe Buck (Voigt) is a naive cowboy from Texas who tries to make it as a "hustler" in the Big Apple. Buck had been around sex his whole life, and thinks it is the only thing he is good at. There, he meets the severely crippled Erico "Ratso" Rizzi (Hoffman) who offers to manage him. Ratso dreams of better health and living a happy life in Miami. As both men struggle to survive in the streets and in the world of prostitution, their bond deepens in an unbreakable friendship. Voigt is dazzling as Buck, but is outdone by co-star Hoffman. Hoffman is one of those "method" actors who live their characters out in their daily lives and show no mercy in what to do to be believable. A common misbelief, method is not that. Method acting is recalling emotional and sense memory. Ratso walks with a limp as he suffers from polio, so Hoffman actually put rocks in his shoe to keep his limp real. Ratso's inner health is also deteriorating and brutally coughs throughout the movie, so Hoffman tried so hard to makes the coughs be believably brutal, that he actually puked in on take. Hoffman's overall health in this film is so bad, some viewers may actually be uncomfortable. Both Hoffman and Voigt give arguably the best performances of their careers. Aside from the acting, the themes of survival, loyalty and friendship are all played out vibrantly. It is strong character-driven movies with sold and, sometimes provocative, themes that I love.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Midnight Cowboy" really knows on how to build characters that would
linger on for quite some time. "Midnight" introduces Joe Buck (Jon
Voight) and his partner, 'Ratso' Rizzi (Dustin Hoffman). But how did
thay' could possibly have scored distinction? The term 'distinction' I
used was me referring to the ability of scoring being different; not to
be perfect or marvelous. Buck stays with his appalled cowboy-texan
outfit, while Ratso always sleeps with his black, gelled hair and
seductive American-Italian accent. They do stay consistent with their
characters' elements, and hence it made them unforgettable. Joe Buck?
He is that cowboy. Ratso? The thick black haired guy with the accent.
Joe Buck, a Texan dishwasher, makes his way to New York City to seek a fortune by becoming a male prostitute for women, some kind of a 'hustler', but instead, he only gets an uncomfortable friendship with a cripple con-man named Ratso. Instead of winning success in the city like how he first though he would get, he only wins a rotten apartment in a condemned building that Ratso offered after aimlessly living in the city for some time. The words that a friend of Buck used during its one of the opening sequences already quite have summed up the film: "Oh, I bet you it's a mess back there (New York City)".
Joe Buck is naïve, why? Surely he had only spent his life in a small town of Texas and rarely engaged to the outside world and he is probably the most charming lad in Texas which led to an idea that he is that 'most-goodlooking-man' in the world, but undoubtedly he is not. His biggest flaw would be his ability to not notice that his beliefs are completely as a whole, is a mistake; only the public sees, and 'Ratso' Rizzi sees. Self-esteem being misplaced perhaps? Maybe. The worst fact about being naive is that you wouldn't be able to notice it for yourself, and "Midnight" able to show that thoroughly. The film's study on naivety is spot on.
The plot's structure is simple and incredibly easy to follow, but the little details are the ones that are very difficult to adhere. The smaller stories will be thrown around throughout the film, and I have to help myself to fix the details that are being scattered. Upon my first viewing, through its flashback moments, I am only able to notice that Joe Buck was very lonely as a child; but Joe Buck goes for far more than that. Joe Buck is a character with depth and complexity, and "Midnight" rewards repeat viewings.
The friendship between Joe Buck and 'Ratso' Rizzi is a pure breeze. The tie stays as a fun entertainment and a backbone of the picture; a miss will prove that the film will be less successful. The praise is supported by perfect performances and a suave screenplay written for the characters. Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman are absolutely superb; the chemistry between the two talented stars stays in transcendence in modern cinema.
Jon Voight flawlessly captured the sheer innocence of the character. His voice, and the intelligent navigation of facial expressions did help the character to appear natural or genuine. Hoffman on the other hand, succeed in becoming a crippled but yet charismatic loser. Oscar nominations for the two leads speak volumes.
If you are a lazy movie audience, then it would be tough for you to enjoy the "Midnight" trip. I mentioned that the movie suggests enjoying throwing its stories around and having an expectation to fix them. "Midnight" never tells, but shows, and with that idea, you have to slightly be hard on yourself. But nonetheless, even if the movie is difficult, it is very easy to accept that the film features a stellar pair of acting performances.
Joe Buck (Jon Voight) is living in Texas and is unhappy with his job
and decides to up and leave and head to New York City. His aim is to
become a hustler and take advantage of some of the rich women that
frequent the area. Joe naively thinks that if he arrives in New York
dressed as a cowboy that he will be able to hustle money out of these
rich women. Whilst women do seem to like Joe, he doesn't really have
the brains to be a successful hustler. Then Joe bumps into Ratso
(Dustin Hoffman) - a lowlife street hustler who Joe initially takes a
disliking to due to the fact that Ratso cons money out of Joe. However,
when the two men realise that they both share a common goal of hustling
for money, the two men set to work hustling as many people as possible
with mixed results.....
Midnight Cowboy is a truly wonderful film which is a human drama with a real emotional core. The main strength of this film lies with the strong performances from Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman. Voight is perfect as the unintelligent red neck wannabe cowboy from out of town. His southern accent does make him sound unintelligent, but Voight's facial expressions and mannerisms help to create this effect. I've always felt that a convincing accent and sharp dialogue can only carry a film so far - sometimes you need the actor to bring that little bit extra to the table and I feel that Voight was excellent in this respect. Hoffman is also good - his character generally has a meaner edge to him, but he lives in squalor in probably one of the worst apartment in New York. His character has a limp and a cough which will more than likely make the viewer pity him rather than like him. The film flows well and I felt it was told at an even pace, the journey that the two men make was funny, heartbreaking, interesting, moving and on the odd occasion disturbing, but all this is done in a way that is both interesting and engaging.
One other aspect that particularly impressed me were the photography and visuals; the editing and photography were fantastic - the part where Joe is chasing Ratso and the dream sequences were top notch. We tend to see this sort of thing more and more these days, but back in 1969 this would undoubtedly have been something that was rather novel. The music in this film is also terrific and includes the wonderful 'Everybody's talking at me'.
Midnight Cowboy is an excellent film which is both touching and funny in equal measures. Ratso and Joe at times will bicker together, laugh together, and suffer together, but it's a journey you'll be glad you took time to make with them. Right from the moment Joe sets off to New York to the rather moving end, this is a rewarding and enjoyable experience. If you haven't seen Midnight Cowboy then I strongly suggest you watch it as it is an excellent film both visually and emotionally.
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