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Rarely have I seen a movie that illustrated the harshness of the living the people who came to New-York with great dreams and finish broken as well as this one. Jon Voight is very good as Joe Buck, a young little Texan who goes to New-York with big plans not realizing that life is not as sweet and easy as it quite seems. The only friendship he is able to find is in a young con-man and pimp called Ratso terrifically played by the great Dustin Hoffman. All through the movie, you realize how hard it had to be to hit the big-time in N.Y. in those days.
Is it possible to thoroughly enjoy and love a film, even though its story is so disturbing and tragic and the the main characters don`t achieve any happiness but only heartbreak? Of course. "Midnight Cowboy" is perfect film to fit that description. It is no ordinary film, instead it is a unforgettable journey through the eyes of two drifters who slowly witness their lives plummeting deeper into a decadent world of drugs, sex and hopelessness. It is such a rarity for a film to provoke such intense emotions and thoughts like this film does, it leaves a sharp impact. "Midnight Cowboy" explores the bleaker side of life, and how cruel the world can be to people just trying to achieve their dreams. Jon Voight gives a remarkable performances as one of drifters, Joe Buck, a naive Texan native who dreams of becoming a hustler. Dustin Hoffman is equally as brilliant portraying the sleazy but dying con man, Ratso Rizzo. "Midnight Cowboy" is not a film that shies away from the brutal reality, instead, it displays the corrupt urban jungle at its grimmest, as it robs the two lead characters of money, dignity and ultimately hope. But amidst the depressing tale lies a unusual but profound coming-of-age story between Joe and Ratso. "Midnight Cowboy" shows the signifigance of a shared bond, especially through such painful cirumstances. You can call it the American Dream gone sadly wrong, Joe and Ratso`s journey comes to a tragic halt at the end of the film. "Midnight Cowboy"`s final scene is the most heart-breaking moment I`ve ever seen in a film. It will surely leave an impact on you forever.
John Schlesinger's 'Midnight Cowboy' is perhaps most notable for being
the only X-rated film in Academy history to receive the Oscar for Best
Picture. This was certainly how I first came to hear of it, and, to be
completely honest, I didn't really expect much of the film. This is not
to say that I thought it would be horrible, but somehow I didn't
consider it the sort of movie that I would enjoy watching. This is one
reason why you should never trust your own instincts on such manners
a remarkable combination of stellar acting, ambitious directing and a
memorable soundtrack ("Everybody's talking' at me, I don't hear a word
they're sayin'") make this film one of the finest explorations of life,
naivety and friendship ever released.
Young Joe Buck (then-newcomer Jon Voight), dressed proudly as a rodeo cowboy, travels from Texas to New York to seek a new life as a hustler, a male prostitute. Women, however, do not seem to be willing to pay money for his services, and Joe faces living in extreme poverty as his supply of money begins to dry up. During these exploits, Joe comes to meet Enrico "Ratso" Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman), a sickly crippled swindler who initially tries to con Joe out of all his money. When they come to realise that they are both in the same predicament, Ratso offers Joe a place to stay, and, working together, they attempt to make (largely dishonest) lives for themselves in the cold, gritty metropolis of New York.
Joe had convinced himself that New York women would be more than willing to pay for sex; however, his first such business venture ends with him guiltily paying the woman (Sylvia Miles) twenty dollars. Though he might consider himself to be somewhat intelligent, Ratso is just as naïve as Joe. Ratso, with his painful limp and hacking cough, is always assuring himself that, if only he could travel to the warmth of Miami, somehow everything would be all right. This misguided expectation that things will get better so easily is quite reminiscent of Lennie and George of John Steinbeck's classic novel, 'Of Mice and Men.'
Shot largely on the streets of New York, 'Midnight Cowboy' is a grittily-realistic look at life in the slums. Watching the film, we can almost feel ourselves inside Ratso's squalid, unheated residence, our joints stiff from the aching winter cold. The acting certainly contributes to this ultra-realism, with both Voight and Hoffman masterfully portraying the two decadent dregs of modern society. Hoffman, in particular, is exceptional in his role (I'm walkin' here! I'm walkin' here!"), managing to steer well clear of being typecast after his much-lauded debut in 1967's 'The Graduate.' Both stars were later nominated for Best Actor Oscars (also nominated for acting bafflingly was Sylvia Miles, for an appearance that can't have been for more than five minutes), though both ultimately lost out to John Wayne in 'True Grit.' 'Midnight Cowboy' eventually went on to win three Oscars from seven nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director for Schlesinger and Best Writing for Waldo Salt.
'Midnight Cowboy' is told mainly in a linear fashion, though there are numerous flashbacks that hint at Joe's past. Rather than explicitly explaining what these brief snippets are actually about, the audience is invited to think about it for themselves, and how these circumstances could have led Joe onto the path he is now pursuing. The achingly-beautiful final scene leaves us with a glimmer of hope, but a large amount of uncertainty. Gritty, thought-provoking and intensely fascinating, 'Midnight Cowboy' is one for the ages.
I find it truly depressing that this movie is not even in the top #250
of the IMDb (at the time of writing). Mind you, I wonder what the
average age of the IMDb voters is! This film is one of the finest of
Hollywood, although it was directed by British genius John Schlesinger
- who also directed one of my favourite ever films - Marathon Man.
I think in a way, this movie opened the way for the tirade of classic, daring, gritty, realistic and superbly acted/crafted movies that followed in the 1970s - an era where the frequency of truly brilliant films from Hollywood has never been higher.
I won't delve into the plot (the movie is more a character study than a plot driven film anyhow), but I will say that the acting by Hoffman and Voight is incredible, the direction and photography superb, and the music wonderful ('Florida Keys' is an unforgettable melody, by genius John Barry).
Too many great moments and scenes - and great dialogue! The scene where Joe Buck (Voight) meets 'Father' O'Daniel is absolutely hilarious.
If you think 'Independence Day' and 'Armageddon' are cinematic masterpieces, then do yourself a favour and don't watch this movie - and moreover, don't vote on a movie you obviously are not equipped to appreciate! If on the other hand you enjoy intelligent and daring (for the time) cinema, with sensational acting performances you must watch this film.
Finally, I can't believe this film was X-rated - but then again, a sign of the times it was made perhaps. It is an extremely powerful film, but I would be happy to let a 15 year old see it. Any 'sexual' scenes are always put in the context of an emotional response, you always see the effect/impact of any sexual situations on the characters involved. I view the Oscars with some suspicion, but they definitely got it right by awarding Midnight Cowboy the best movie award.
Best quote .. "I ain't a for real cowboy, but I sure am one hell of a lover!!"
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I never get tired of seeing the film, and even though I haven't seen if for a while, it remains burnt into my memory like no other. It easily remains Voight's finest hour and Hoffman never got into character as deep as this one. If you've ever gone to the city from a small town and been amazed at how much there is to take in and understand and be confused by, then you will relate to this film. Themes of starting a better life, running away from your past, putting all your dreams into one plan, hoping that a change of scene means a change of mind, the need for human contact no matter how hard you think you can do without it, the basic need to communicate with people. Of course if you have no heart or are as emotional as a dry mushroom, you will remain untouched, but maybe you will be able to appreciate it on a more cinematic level. Like everything to do with any kind of "art", if there is no emotional content and communication and telling of people's lives, no feeling, no real people, then I have no interest in it (e.g. the Coens' time pieces). That's why I love this film. Whoever you relate to - Voight ? Hoffman ? The old man who longs for company ? - if you have a beating heart, this will get you. By the way, doesn't the theme tune leave a lump in your throat?
What's all the fuss about? Well, first of all, it was played on UK TV
last night, but it wasn't the comments that made me want to watch the
film, it was the Harry Nielsen theme tune that made me want to watch
it. I downloaded the mp3 a couple of years back, but it was pleasant to
now match the song to the right picture...
Midnight Cowboy is indeed a great adventure of a film. To describe Joe Buck here is to spoil it for you to let your imagination paint his character, because thats what the first 10 mins of the film does.
Try doing what he did - to traverse from the big country to a big city, where Joe isn't contaminated by the dark traits of city life, where no one says hello to each other on the streets, where people fear of being robbed, where people walk with heads down. No, no... Joe Buck treats everyone equal, with a nice massive "Howdy to y'all from Texas".
I couldn't lose concentration while watching the film: you actually do become involved. I had to keep reminding myself that the film is nearing 36 years old and that the entire cast is aged.
It's definitely worth a view. R2-DVD's are cheap.
i am a true 60s & 70s movie freak & this piece reminds me why. Dustin
Hoffman at the onset of his fame in a dynamic role. Jon Voight's
breakout performance. artists will be even more drawn in by this
what happens when a Texan boy aspiring to be a big time hustler comes to the greatest city in the world (with all its degenerates included) and befriends a down-on-his-luck cripple? a movie masterpiece. "joe buck" is an amazingly stable character once the viewer realizes his past was plagued by sexual abuse. as for Rizzo's past, one can only wonder.
i'm usually one who cries at the drop of a hat, but amazingly, i found myself so consumed by the artistry of this film that i forgot to shed a tear. a raw film, without question, but i'm not sure i'd call it depressing. maybe because i live in NYC? the integration of black & white sequences along with drug-like dream flashbacks are true genius and add to the dramatic & realistic portrait of the life Voight & Hoffman are forced to lead. there's a somewhat "B" quality to the film & by today's standards, it seems unlikely that it would have won an Oscar but the acting is of the highest standards. even that of Sylvia Myles - albeit only 5 minutes in duration. i find her scene to be the most disturbing portion of the film.
i read another user's comment about the Warhol-esquire party scene being dragged out & somewhat irrelevant but i strongly disagree. it's highly relevant to the time period and sets the stage for Jon Voight's encounter with Brenda Vaquero - the most "sane" character that we meet in this film. also, for you underground buffs, there are cameos here by Viva & Paul Morrissey, both of Warhol fame.
on a completely irrelevant note, Angelina Jolie is the perfect picture of her father as a young man.
i hesitate to say more since i may spoil it for you so let's summarize by saying "just go rent it."
Its too bad the user comments don't come with the person's age and experience written alongside them. I'm a 32 year old native New Yorker. You can like or dislike a movie based upon its artistic qualities, but I can only imagine that some people would find this movie annoying or unrealistic if they are young or have led a charmed life. Sure Joe Buck is naive - that's the point. If he wasn't, there is no need for a movie to be made about him as he would have succeeded. So perhaps see John Travolta in "Rhinestone Cowboy" if you prefer less naivetee in your cowboys while you're studying for your chemistry exam and you're really p***ed off Daddy won't give you the money to go to Cancun for Spring Break, rather you have to go to Daytona. Even with the "Disneyfication" of 42nd street NY is still a tough place to make it - the sleaze has just relocated. I know plenty of college grads who are making peanuts in dead end jobs they never would have thought they'd end up in back in college when they had the luxury of being able to say "That Joe Buck. So naive". Believe me, the con-men are more sophisticated today and you can just as easily fail as Joe did, but for different reasons. Replace Joe with a young kid programmer trying to succeed in Silicon Alley and you can have a modern version of Midnight Cowboy. I myself came down to my last $6 before I got my break here but even so, I still had parents nearby I could rely on. Joe and Ratso did not. As you go through life you see that indeed there are times when two paths diverge in the woods and you're going down one path and it makes all the difference to your future. Usually you notice you've gone down a path after the fact. We can see Joe realizing something is going on and its not the right thing as his bad luck starts - but part of what makes this movie a classic is its ability to deal with the many sided nature of life. As Joe is bunking down for his first night in Ratso's apartment we see him realizing that this is not right. This isn't how it was supposed to be. Yet at the same time he finds himself chucking over Ratso's wish to be called Rico in his own goddamn apartment. "Rico Rico Rico...". Joe doesn't want to go down this path, yet he's still trying to be himself. Do you think life sends you a telegram saying "Hey kid, this is wrong - back up a few steps and try again?" No, it doesn't. And if you only find out when its too late to back up a few steps what are you to do? And Joe does grow in 'street smarts'. Note when he's in Rico's apartment he asks him what he wants (out of him). What's the catch? And when Joe needs money fast he is able to quickly hustle and rob Towny. Unlike at the beginning, at the end we are left feeling Joe is able to take care of himself. But still, at the final he is sitting in the bus like a scared boy just about to cry. I've seen a number of people who've come to NY thinking that if they can make it somewhere else, they can make it here. Then, sometimes sooner, sometimes later, they find NY to be the friendless, poor-making city it can be if you don't succeed. And you know what? Most people don't. Only then do they find out that NY does deserve its reputation - if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. Not the other way around. But I love the moment in the Florida diner when Joe is buying lunch when the woman asks him where he's from. Born and raised in Texas, and after everything he's been through, Joe answers "New York".
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Katie Walsh Midnight Cowboy Review
Midnight Cowboy follows the story of a man, Joe Buck, played by Jon Voight, caught between two worlds. He leaves his small Texas town, with no future for him, to travel to New York City, where his inexperience leads him through many humiliating adventures. He befriends Rico "Ratzo" Rizzo, played by Dustin Hoffman, who is a sleazy cripples who originally steals money from him. The two men are both lost within this fast-paced world, stuck in a condemned building with the only money for food coming from Joe's pathetic attempts at hustling.
The film goes through a series of vignettes that piece together his past as objects trigger his memory. For instance, when Joe looks into the beauty salon window he pictures himself giving his grandmother a massage. Through these images we piece together a past full of sorrows such as, a relationship with a girl that led to a gang-bang, and a mother who abandoned him at his grandmother's doorstep. The girl from his past is the dominant voice inside his head throughout the movie. The fact that he becomes a hustler seems to be explained by the rape associated with her, degrading him into a job where he no longer needs to respect himself, but still earns a lot of money. This failure from before premeditates his failure later on in life. As he looks into the window in New York City, he sees himself as a dishwasher again, stuck in a low-paying job with little meaning.
The relationship between Hoffman and Voight on screen displays homosexual tendencies that are never fully played out. These subtle motions are shown through the scene where Rizzo hugs Joe, and at the end, when Joe puts his arm around him. The sex scene with the girls from the party becomes interesting. She suggests that he is gay with Hoffman's character, but instead of denying it, he merely proves himself in the bedroom to her. There are also two other gay scenes, where a teenager seduces him in a movie theatre, and an old man brings him back to his place. In both cases, Voight becomes extremely violent as he throws the kid up against the wall, but the old man is knocked unconscious. We see the development of Voight's character since the teenager was let off without giving him anything because Joe was still naïve to the ways of the city. However, his heart had been hardened by the time the old man tried to offer him ten dollars for merely coming up to the room. He shows almost no sympathy as he knocks the man to and fro in an attempt to reach the money needed to bring Rizzo to safety. That fact alone shows the extremely close ties between Rizzo and Joe.
A prevailing theme of loneliness jumps off the screen as viewers watch Joe go through a series of disappointments in his life. He is abandoned by everyone so that by the end, he remains completely alone. For this reason alone, I would rate the movie a 7 out of 10. The loneliness engulfed me as I walked back to my room, which shows great direction, but I prefer to be happy.
"Midnight Cowboy" may have marked the culmination of the '60s. Loner
cowboy Joe Buck (Jon Voight) leaves his Texas town for New York, where
he meets the sickly Enrico "Ratso" Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman). There turns
out to be only one thing for Joe to do: become a male prostitute. Even
if this is his only option in life, it works out for his and Ratso's
Dustin Hoffman was clearly a great actor in "The Graduate", and "Midnight Cowboy" reaffirms that. You can practically feel Ratso on yourself. It's easy to see why this movie won Best Picture: it really was possibly the greatest movie released that year. Watching it nowadays, it seems pretty silly that they rated it X when it first came out. But the point is, you HAVE to see this movie. 10/10 stars.
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