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Midnight Cowboy (1969) - Directed by John Schlesinger, Produced by Jerome Hellman, Starring Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight


DonRocks
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Midnight Cowboy is one of "those movies" I assumed that I'd seen before, but upon watching it, I realized there's absolutely no way I had. 

What an amazing acting duo by Voight and Hoffman (Hoffman got top billing, but I think Voight captured this film). While this may be the first example of a long string of overacted character roles by Hoffman, he still managed to pull it off. Voight, on the other hand, just plain owned this movie - I cannot imagine anyone playing a better Joe Buck. 

This plot became so complex and dark that I was mesmerized and stunned into silence. I'd had a long day, and had to work to stay on top of things - this is not a film to be tossed off lightly. 

It's interesting that 1967 was considered the Big Year of Hollywood turnaround ("the year Hollywood grew up"), and Midnight Cowboy, two years later, carried that torch appropriately into the near future.

This film was very sad, and it was progressive of the Academy to award it Best Picture given it's nudity and melancholy overtones.

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There are movies you see, enjoy and then forget about. Midnight Cowboy, for me, was NOT one of those films. This is a movie that I have continued to think about long after the credits rolled.

Jon Voight was phenomenal as Joe Buck. He said in an interview that he was paid minimum wage for the role, and that the studio even charged him for his lunch on the last day of shooting. He said he knew the movie would make his career, and he was right.

The Academy was progressive in giving Midnight Cowboy three Oscars, not only given its nudity and melancholy overtones, but because it was rated X. I am sure there were a fair number of Hollywood insiders who were opposed to setting that precedent in 1969.

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I have a difficult time detaching a personal experience from that wondrous film.  Around the time that Midnight Cowboy came out, I had a very close friend that could have been Dustin Hoffman's brother or virtually a twin.  Because of Hoffman's role in the The Graduate from '68 or '67 this guy was a college "girl magnate". He'd tell girls he was Hoffman's brother or cousin or something and they were all attracted.  Amazingly so.  He, and his close friends, (me being one of them) took advantage of that.     What can I say?

When Midnight Cowboy came out, there was a moment when my friend and I were in front of a downtown theater showcasing that film.  My friend started limping in front of the theater, dragging his leg like the Ratso Rizzo character that Hoffman played.  A huge crowd appeared.  We played it.  Its hard for me to detach from those memories.

But John Voight played an astounding Joe Buck.  Big, dumb, naive, cowboy with big dreams, dragged and accompanied into a weird ugly dirty world by his "friend" Ratso Rizzo.   Voight was wonderful in that role.  I thought Hoffman was also great as a low life scum bag.

A terrific film.  What a sad ending.    

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On 8/7/2014 at 1:09 PM, DIShGo said:

Jon Voight was phenomenal as Joe Buck. He said in an interview that he was paid minimum wage for the role, and that the studio even charged him for his lunch on the last day of shooting. He said he knew the movie would make his career, and he was right.

I wonder if anyone has ever mentioned this before.

A friend of mine (who happens to be a member of this website) said the following about Tom Hanks on Facebook today:

"I don't hate Hanks, but I don't love him either. I like certain movies he's in. And I loathe "Forrest Gump" with a fierce, raging hatred."

Which, of course, inspired me to see Forrest Gump for the first time since it was released in 1994. I was watching it just now, and there's one *huge* thing I just noticed:

The scene where Forrest meets Lieutenant Dan in New York City (the very first New York City scene where Lieutenant Dan's wheelchair slips down an icy ramp, and Forrest is subsequently wheeling him around the busy streets), is accompanied by ... guess what?

It's accompanied by this song.

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You might want to give a moment's attention to the Fred Neil original of "Everybody's Talkin'", which is pretty great. Also, it should probably be noted that Harry Nilsson released his recording of this song the year before it was re-used for Midnight Cowboy, so it's kind of unfortunate that people think of it as "the Midnight Cowboy song".

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On 8/10/2014 at 1:10 AM, The Hersch said:

You might want to give a moment's attention to the Fred Neil original of "Everybody's Talkin'", which is pretty great. Also, it should probably be noted that Harry Nilsson released his recording of this song the year before it was re-used for Midnight Cowboy, so it's kind of unfortunate that people think of it as "the Midnight Cowboy song".

Neil Schmeil. :)

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On 8/10/2014 at 1:10 AM, The Hersch said:

You might want to give a moment's attention to the Fred Neil original of "Everybody's Talkin'", which is pretty great. Also, it should probably be noted that Harry Nilsson released his recording of this song the year before it was re-used for Midnight Cowboy, so it's kind of unfortunate that people think of it as "the Midnight Cowboy song".

The funny thing is, I was just listening to the song before re-reading your comment, and I was thinking to myself, "This really has nothing whatsoever to do with the movie; yet, for some reason, it's perfect."

"Neil Schmeil" was funny and nobody appreciates my elevated sense of humor.

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On 8/10/2014 at 12:46 AM, The Hersch said:
 
Maybe I should see this again. When I saw it new, I didn't think much of it. I can hardly remember it now, except for Sylvia Miles, whom I loved.

While I rarely see films for a second time this is one that is intriguing that I will watch it again.  Always sort of curious as to the time and place and wondering if that will change my perspective.  Thinking back to my comments above, we knicknamed the guy who was a ringer for the young Dustin Hoffman, Rizzo.   It was a nickname that stuck through his entire life, at least among virtually all friends from college, my family of origin and others.  A freaking effective knickname.  I suppose he liked it.  He never ever fought it.

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1 hour ago, DaveO said:

While I rarely see films for a second time this is one that is intriguing that I will watch it again.  Always sort of curious as to the time and place and wondering if that will change my perspective.  Thinking back to my comments above, we knicknamed the guy who was a ringer for the young Dustin Hoffman, Rizzo.   It was a nickname that stuck through his entire life, at least among virtually all friends from college, my family of origin and others.  A freaking effective knickname.  I suppose he liked it.  He never ever fought it.

My guess (and it's only a guess) is that the grandmother issues will seem brand new to you - I watched it again last week, and the things I remembered from five-years ago were the Big Things; there are some pretty disturbing scenes going on even before Joe Buck reaches New York City.

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