Ted Kramer's wife leaves him, allowing for a lost bond to be rediscovered between Ted and his son, Billy. But a heated custody battle ensues over the divorced couple's son, deepening the wounds left by the separation.
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
This is one of the half-dozen films that left me shaken upon leaving the theater where I saw it in 1969 (at the age of 19). It has all the bizarreness and griminess that was New York in the late '60s, which was pretty frightening to a sheltered Brooklyn teenager. The direction and cinematography were highly unusual for that time, and the use of montages and cuts (and the trippy shots of the Warholesque party) made the film even more disorienting. The film never sags and holds your attention throughout, and the through line of the plot -- the friendship between Rizzo and Joe Buck -- has about as much emotional impact as anything else I've ever seen. Equally of interest is the psychological content of the flashbacks that show how Joe became the way he is. The star performances are outstanding -- hard to see how either of them could lose to John Wayne -- and the sheer variety of supporting actor performances is incredible. A fully realized, three-dimensional film that probably couldn't find backers today.
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