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Midnight Cowboy


Review #13 - Midnight Cowboy:
(John Schlesinger, 1969)


Midnight Cowboy is a stunning journey of hopes/expectations, disappointment and bonding. From the minute Joe Buck steps onto that bus to NYC with nothing but a grave amount of childlike enthusiasm, it's a monumental ride to the finish. Jon Voight plays this naïve, out of touch "cowboy" with unparalleled prowess, partner being the limp, con-man Ratso Rizzo who's shoes are filled by the great Dustin Hoffman with a near-equal portrayal.

I love how genuine Joe and Ratso's friendship feels, from the initial run-in at the café to the cat and mouse chase for Joe's revenge, after all the crap they've endured, still strive together for a better life. It pulls at your heart strings, Joe obviously shares a bit of unsureness towards Ratso after the initial backstab in feeding him to a life of gay prostitution for a mere twenty bucks, though I sensed regret on Ratso's part which is kinda proven as he does offer him shelter and food afterwards. I think (my opinion) Ratso for the first time in his life, felt a connection between himself and Joe, and thus wanted to further the friendship but his instincts (con man reflexes) took hold and things went downhill from there.

I'm making this sound like some buddy-comedy, it's not though. It's frequently dark and depressing and doesn't shy away from lurid topics. Midnight Cowboy is too a disturbingly detailed portrait of NYC in the 70s, at least from what I've heard. There's drugs, prostitution, rape scenes (distorted), dark comedy, trippy sequences, nudity etc. the whole lot, matter of fact, Midnight Cowboy was the first X-rated film to win an Oscar, beating out a John Wayne film (True Grit), ironic as Joe Buck imitates Wayne in certain scenes attempting to revive a dying gimmick and Joe himself, actually shuts out this phony personification in a heart-breaking yet uplifting scene at the end. The score seems incompatible at first glance but humbles you with instrumentals like Everybody's Talkin, which instantly reminds me of that joyous walk down a crowded NY street with Joe Buck, looking so out of place with his cowboy gear.

I don't know what else to say, I just went on a rant dishing out all the positive, Midnight Cowboy is THE tale of an unlikely friendship and a true work of art that everyone must see.