7.9/10
87,648
353 user 110 critic

Midnight Cowboy (1969)

A naive hustler travels from Texas to New York City to seek personal fortune, finding a new friend in the process.

Director:

John Schlesinger

Writers:

Waldo Salt (screenplay), James Leo Herlihy (based on the novel by)
Reviews
Popularity
2,123 ( 316)

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Won 3 Oscars. Another 24 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Dustin Hoffman ... Ratso
Jon Voight ... Joe Buck
Sylvia Miles ... Cass
John McGiver ... Mr. O'Daniel
Brenda Vaccaro ... Shirley
Barnard Hughes ... Towny
Ruth White ... Sally Buck - Texas
Jennifer Salt ... Annie - Texas
Gilman Rankin ... Woodsy Niles - Texas (as Gil Rankin)
Gary Owens Gary Owens ... Little Joe - Texas
T. Tom Marlow T. Tom Marlow ... Little Joe - Texas
George Eppersen George Eppersen ... Ralph - Texas
Al Scott Al Scott ... Cafeteria Manager - Texas
Linda Davis Linda Davis ... Mother on the Bus - Texas
J.T. Masters J.T. Masters ... Old Cow-Hand - Texas
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Storyline

Texas greenhorn Joe Buck arrives in New York City for the first time. Preening himself as a real "hustler", he finds that he is the one getting "hustled" until he teams up with down-and-out but resilient outcast 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 alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Whatever you hear about Midnight Cowboy is true. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

MGM

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Italian

Release Date:

16 June 1969 (Brazil) See more »

Also Known As:

Perdidos en la noche See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,600,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$44,785,053
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Robert Blake was offered the part of Ratso, but declined. See more »

Goofs

After Joe Buck's encounter with Towny, he and Ratso board the bus to Miami. But the bus then enters the south tube of the Lincoln Tunnel, which only carries eastbound traffic into New York. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Joe Buck: Whoopee-tee-yi-yo. Get along little dogies. It's your misfortune and none of my own.
See more »

Alternate Versions

ABC edited 25 minutes from this film for its 1974 network television premiere. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Growing Pains: The Mom Who Knew Too Much (1988) See more »

Soundtracks

Midnight Cowboy
(uncredited)
Music by John Barry
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Two Stellar Performances and a Pervasive Honesty Make This One Still a Winner
5 April 2006 | by EUyeshimaSee all my reviews

It's not quite the timeless masterpiece you would hope it would be based on the acclaim it garnered, but 1969's "Midnight Cowboy" is still a powerhouse showcase for two young actors just bursting into view at the time. Directed by John Schlesinger and written by Waldo Salt, the movie seems to be a product of its time, the late 1960's when American films were especially expressionistic, but it still casts a spell because the story comes down to themes of loneliness and bonding that resonate no matter what period. The film's cinematic influence can still be felt in the unspoken emotionalism found in Ang Lee's "Brokeback Mountain".

The meandering plot follows Joe Buck, a naive, young Texan who decides to move to Manhattan to become a stud-for-hire for rich women. Full of energy but lacking any savvy, he fails miserably but is unwilling to concede defeat despite his dwindling finances. He meets a cynical, sickly petty thief named "Ratso" Rizzo, who first sees Joe as an easy pawn. The two become dependent on one another, and Rizzo begins to manage Joe. Things come to a head at a psychedelic, drug-infested party where Joe finally lands a paying client. Meanwhile, Rizzo becomes sicker, and the two set off for Florida to seek a better life. This is not a story that will appeal to everyone, in fact, some may still find it repellent that a hustler and a thief are turned into sympathetic figures, yet their predicaments feel achingly authentic.

In his first major role, Jon Voight is ideally cast as he brings out Joe's paper-thin bravado and deepening sexual insecurities. As Rizzo, Dustin Hoffman successfully upends his clean, post-college image from "The Graduate" and immerses himself in the personal degradation and glimmering hope that act as an oddly compatible counterpoint to Joe. The honesty of their portrayals is complemented by Schlesinger's film treatment which vividly captures the squalor of the Times Square district at the time. The director also effectively inserts montages of flashbacks and fantasy sequences to fill in the character's fragile psyches. Credit also needs to go to Salt for not letting the pervasive cynicism overwhelm the pathos of the story. The other performances are merely incidental to the journeys of the main characters, including Brenda Vaccaro as the woman Joe meets at the party, Sylvia Miles as a blowsy matron, John McGiver as a religious zealot and Barnard Hughes as a lonely out-of-towner.

The two-disc 2006 DVD package contains a pristine print transfer of the 1994 restoration and informative commentary from producer Jerome Hellman since unfortunately neither Schlesinger nor Salt are still living. There are three terrific featurettes on the second disc - a look-back documentary, "After Midnight: Reflections on a Classic 35 Years Later", which features comments from Hellman, Hoffman, Voight and others, as well as clips and related archive footage such as Voight's screen test; "Controversy and Acclaim", which examines the genesis of the movie's initial 'X' rating and public response to the film; and a tribute to the director, "Celebrating Schlesinger".


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