Film Review : MIDNIGHT COWBOY * * * *
Midnight Cowboy (1969)
CAST Jon Voight, Dustin Hoffman, Barnard Hughes, Sylvia Miles, Brenda Vaccaro
DIRECTOR John Schlesinger
There are many reasons why Midnight Cowboy is one of the 5 or 6 greatest movies ever made. The originating movie for the so called "buddy" picture, Midnight Cowboy is more than that. On the surface it doesn't seem that way, but as you look deep in the screenplay and the simple gestures of the characters, you begin to see how deeply rooted this movie is.
Midnight Cowboy is the story of a lonesome cowboy named Joe Buck. Living in Texas, he wants to break out and do something with his life. So, he decides to move to New York, New York in the hopes of making it big as a hustler ( a sort of male prostitute if you will). Right there with that little knowledge you can already see how niave he is and how misguided his childhood is. Through the first opening sequences while he is on the bus trip to New York, we get flashback scenes put in a dreamlike manner not to give the full illusion of flashbacks we've seen in many other movies. You feel he is actually thinking of these events as they happened in his childhood. In these dreams we see how Joe Buck was emotionally and physically tortured by his grandmother who raised him. Earlier we see his mom or some other important female family figure, dump him off at his grandmothers doorstep. This shows us his abandonment and subsequently his total loneliness he felt as he grew up. This sets up how we see him act and react during the rest of the movie. He is unaware of what a huge city like New York really has in store for him.
He meets up first with Cassie, played to perfection by Sylvia Miles, who winds up hustling him out of 20 dollars or so. Then he meets up with Ratso Rizzo, played by Dustin Hoffman in his greatest performance..bar none. Ratso cons him and he winds up broke. He eventually meets up with Ratso again, and after an initial bad confrontation, they hit it off and become partners in crime.
They go through many lows, ending up living in a condemned building where Ratso gets sick and Joe wants to take him to Miami to the warm weather so he can get better.
This review could be in more detail, but it might give too much of the story away. The dialogue between Voight and Hoffman is sharp, funny, and ultimatly painful. This is one of those rare breed movies that through dialogue, dream sequences and visual shots that mens souls are completly bared for the whole world see, study and contemplate.