MIDNIGHT COWBOY was the only "X"-rated picture ever to win an Oscar as Best Picture. The rating was later changed to an "R" and, by today's standards, might almost be considered a "PG-13." The film presents New York at its seamiest and, though it includes one very funny parody of a bohemian
party, it's mostly pretty downbeat stuff.
Joe Buck (Voight), a restless dishwasher in a tiny Texas burg, is convinced that he can use his sexual prowess to satisfy all of the rich New York women who don't know what real loving is like. He bids farewell to his Lone Star pals (including Salt, the screenwriter's daughter) and heads for the
Big Apple. Arriving in New York, he picks up and beds down with a blowsy blonde (Miles), but she doesn't have any money. Soon, tubercular street hustler "Ratso" Rizzo (Hoffman) convinces Joe that what he needs is a manager. Although Joe isn't crazy about having to service a closeted gay Christian
(McGiver), he and Rizzo soon become as close as George and Lenny in OF MICE AND MEN, talking about how they're going to move to Florida once they've hit it big.
After the success of THE GRADUATE and the disaster of MADIGAN'S MILLIONS, Hoffman was very picky about his roles and refused several parts that were not unlike the young man who was seduced by Mrs. Robinson. He wanted a part that was unique, and certainly found it in the role of Rizzo. Voight had
appeared on Broadway in "The Sound of Music" and a couple of forgettable films (HOUR OF THE GUN, FEARLESS FRANK, OUT OF IT) before achieving acclaim with this role. Talented Englishman Schlesinger had an unerring eye for capturing the grimy reality of New York, even if his directorial style is
more jittery than is really necessary. In a small role as one of the partygoers, notice songwriter Paul Jabara, who later won an Oscar for "Last Dance" for the forgettable THANK GOD IT'S FRIDAY. Good work by jazz harmonicist Jean "Toots" Theilemans helps the mood immensely. Several songs provided
background, and one of them--"Everybody's Talking" (Fred Neil, sung by Harry Nilsson)--was a hit.
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- Rating: R
- Review: MIDNIGHT COWBOY was the only "X"-rated picture ever to win an Oscar as Best Picture. The rating was later changed to an "R" and, by today's standards, might almost be considered a "PG-13." The film presents New York at its seamiest and, though it includes… (more)