Film and Food

Movies reviews with matching food – eat, watch, enjoy

Best Picture – Midnight Cowboy (1969)

Starring Dustin Hoffman & Jon Voight

Rating 7/10

One of the famous facts about Midnight Cowboy is that it was the first ‘X’ rated film to win the Oscar for Best Picture. With this in mind, I prepared myself for a disturbing, confronting film with no limits. It was this but so much more.

Joe Buck (Voight) is a texas cowboy try-hard. He is leaving his weird little town for the Big Apple. It appears his grandma ma was a bit of a strange hussy and he seeks to follow in her footsteps. He finds himself in New York City with one thing on his mind, bagging a rich babe. He wants to sell himself to any fine looking lady he sees on the streets. But he soon discovers that this is not as easy as he first thought.

Enter ‘Ratso’ (Hoffman). His real name? Enrico Rizzo. A cripple from the Bronx who lives in a condemned building with no heat, no electricity. He’s a sad little man; a conman, a thief and a swindler. It’s like he’s Buck’s character personified. After a few disturbing encounters with various people, Ratso and Buck find themselves at a psychedelic party with babes, drugs, cameras and, most importantly, free food. They’ve hit the jackpot.

When Buck goes home with a wealthy lady, Ratso is left to fend for himself. He starts to get sicker and sicker. Buck is having the time of his life. He now has contacts, vital for his kind of work in NYC. But Ratso’s condition is dire and for once Buck thinks of some one other than himself and decides to bus it with Ratso to Miami. This is a turning point for Cowboy Joe. He finds he has a heart and is willing to sacrifice his own success for the benefit of someone else. He is redeemed.

This film was difficult to watch. The confronting scenes leave you feeling empty and sad. It is not a glamourous life that Buck has chosen for himself. There is no joy in his work, even when he gets it. The initial excitement of New York City has gone and his soul is withered.

Jon Voight is almost unrecognisable as his younger, more handsome self. He is mesmerising as the naive and cocky Buck. And Hoffman is outstanding as usual. This is not a film for a sunny, happy day. It won’t make you feel good, it may actually leave you with a foul taste in your mouth. It was made to shock and in comparison to the previous year’s Best Picture, Oliver, I’m sure that it would have packed a punch.

Check it out if you dare. Just hang out for the poignant ending.

Midnight Cowboy Trivia:

  • Budget – $3.6 million
  • Based on the novel, ‘Midnight Cowboy’ by James Leo Herlihy
  • Hoffman wore pebbles in his shoes to help with his limp
  • Dustin Hoffman auditioned for Ratso by dressing in rags and standing on a New York City corner, begging for money. The studio rep didn’t even recognise him
  • According to Hoffman, the famous line, “Hey, we’re walking here.” was unscripted and came about when a random taxi ran a red light and almost ran him over
  • The Florida bus driver was the set’s electrician filling in for a missing extra
We made it through! Midnight Cowboy  TICK, next time we’re heading into the 70s. There’s some ground breaking films in this era, so don’t miss out. The next Best Picture winner is Patton starring George C. Scott, Karl Malden and Michael Bates.
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2 comments on “Best Picture – Midnight Cowboy (1969)

  1. Pingback: 1983 Oscar Winners | Guide to be a winner

  2. Pingback: Best Picture – Midnight Cowboy (1969) « Oscarclub's Blog | Dustin Hoffman

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