Midnight Cowboy Review

By: Gabrielle Napier

            Countless stories tell the tale of a young southern hopeful on a bus to follow his or her dreams in New York City. John Schlesinger’s newest film Midnight Cowboy is possibly the best example of the American journey to follow dreams in the Big Apple. Staring John Voight as the southern cowboy and Dustin Hoffman as the sleazy sidekick, the story is the perfect urban buddy film. Joe Buck, played by Voight, traveled to New York where he had dreams of becoming a hustler. Joe’s skewed view of sex is apparent throughout the film, somehow forming the idea in his mind that New York is full of wealthy women looking to pay for casual sex. The journey Joe pursues leads him to meet his pal Ratzo Rizzo, played by Hoffman. The dramatic film gives an inside look at the life of the pair of friends as they struggle through the rough winter. Midnight Cowboy is an urban story that sucks in its audience and makes them feel every emotion as the story moves along.

From the first woman he makes a connection with in New York, the audience can tell that Joe’s story will be an interesting one. She invites him up to her penthouse where they make love. When he asks for money after their bedroom adventure, she begins to cry and eventually, Joe actually gives her money. Told from Joe Buck’s perspective, flashbacks explain to the audience where his strange view of sex comes from. Many scenes that display Joe’s relationship with his grandmother give a vibe of molestation. Other flashbacks showed Joe’s relationship with a woman referred to as “Crazy Annie.” The most intriguing scene with Annie shows her with Joe making love in a car when they are suddenly surrounded and pulled out of the car. The moments following the attack are a series of confusing scenes that can be taken in many ways. Rape seems to be implied, and this would further explain Joe’s casual and unemotional attachment to sex. Watching Joe throughout the film, the audience is pulled into the story by his nurturing character and protective spirit towards Ratzo. The crazy adventure the friends take reflects the culture of current society with its use of drugs and alcohol. Through the heartwarming high points and the gut-wrenching low points, the film does a marvelous job of keeping every member of the audience deep inside the storyline.

As the first X-rated film to come from the studios, Midnight Cowboy pushes the limits of the audience’s imagination with graphic scenes of sex, rape, and at one point, even possible murder. Schlesinger’s film exposes the urban grunge of those struggling to work and even live in the hustle and bustle of New York City. One scene in the movie takes the friends to a party that is completely hopped up on drugs, directly reflecting the societal era of drugs. Not only was the director’s choice in actors superb, but also his location choices fit the story perfectly. The film as a whole was incredible, from the script to the lighting, there is no question as to whether or not this film will become a Hollywood classic. Using Hoffman and Voight, Schlesinger has created a masterpiece. Certainly one of 1969’s best movies, Midnight Cowboy is a highly recommended urban tale of two friends.