Midnight Cowboy

This is another film that I was too young to see when it was first released but, thanks to the cinemas of Oxford showing classic films very late at night, I saw it as a student in the early 80s.

The British director John Schlesinger did not even attend the Oscar ceremony the year it won because he was convinced that no X rated film would take the top award. He also won the award for Best Director.  He was in London at the time filming ‘Sunday, Bloody Sunday’, another film that is firmly in my hinterland.

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‘Midnight Cowboy’ from 1969 is the story of two outsiders who gravitate towards each other to survive in the big city.  Jon Voigt played Joe Buck, the Texan who heads to New York City to work as a male prostitute.  His hopes of making money from rich women soon fade and instead he is trying to survive by serving men. He meets a street con artist known as Ratso Rizzo, brilliantly played by Dustin Hoffman.  The two have an uneasy alliance. Rizzo promises to help Joe in his career but when he realises he has been tricked, Joe tracks him down.  Thrown together, the two navigate the city. We learn about their pasts and their hopes for the future, which in Ratso Rizzo’s case includes making it to Florida.

The film ends on the road to Florida, but there is no upbeat ending here.  It is a classic and worth the freezing cold cinema experience of a late night showing.  It is in my hinterland. What’s in yours?

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