B efore bromance, there was Midnight Cowboy. This movie — on rerelease for its 50th anniversary — is about two men finding friendship in the desolate common cause of their loneliness. Jon Voight plays Joe Buck, a pretty young guy with a poignantly open and trusting face who is kicking the Texas dust off his cowboy boots and heading for New York City on the bus, leaving behind sad memories — which return as traumatised flashback-fragments — of being brought up by his grandma, a lost love, small-town spite and apparently rape, of both his girlfriend and Joe himself. With heartbreaking naivety, Joe figures he can be a handsome gigolo stud for rich Park Avenue ladies, and duly sets up in a flophouse Manhattan hotel room, putting an aspirational picture of Paul Newman up on the wall apparently from his movie, Hud.
Ben Walters reports from the 40th anniversary screening of Midnight Cowboy
John Schlesinger: Picture imperfect
Our mutual love of film brings out the real me: a chubby teenager with a highlighter, the TV Times and an Augustus Gloop chocolate stash, scheduling movie-watching as if life depended on it. Luckily, after many years together, a tilt of my right eyebrow is enough to render him speechless. I first watched Midnight Cowboy , on my own, during one of my teenage marathon sessions.
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The performances have a flat, painful accuracy. The world of Times Square, a world of people without hope and esteem, seems terribly real. Here is America's underbelly and it even smells that way. And seeing these things and reaching to them, we are ready to praise the movie where we found them. And cannot. There has been a failure somewhere in the director's faith in his materials. John Schlesinger has not been brave enough to tell his story and draw his characters with the simplicity they require. He has taken these magnificent performances, and his own careful perception of American society, and dropped them into an offensively trendy, gimmick-ridden, tarted-up, vulgar exercise in fashionable cinema.
Midnight Cowboy is a American buddy drama film , based on the novel of the same name by James Leo Herlihy. Midnight Cowboy is the only X-rated film ever to win Best Picture. In , Midnight Cowboy was deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.