One of the most critically acclaimed films of the 1960s, Midnight Cowboy is a perfect candidate for our Summer of 1969 film series. Directed by British New Wave director John Schlesinger, Midnight Cowboy is a picaresque story of friendship that captured a city in crisis and sparked a new era of Hollywood movies.
Joe Buck (Jon Voight), a wide-eyed hustler from Texas hoping to score big with wealthy city women, finds a companion in Enrico “Ratso” Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman), an ailing swindler with a bum leg and a quixotic fantasy of escaping to Florida. As the two attempt to overcome the hostility of New York City, the unlikely pair go from shady business partners to trusted friends.
Upon its release, Midnight Cowboy was nominated for seven Academy Awards, winning three for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay, making it the only X-Rated film in history to win a Best Picture Oscar. 50 years after its release, Midnight Cowboy still resonates with audiences and continues to influence many films today.
“I cannot recall a more marvelous pair of acting performances in any one film.” — Gene Siskel, Chicago Tribune.
“What Midnight Cowboy most has in common with the American masterpieces that followed over the next five or six years is a mastery of subtle emotions, like loneliness, exclusion, and a yearning for something elusive.” — Noel Murray, AV Club
“Midnight Cowboy’s peep-show vision of Manhattan lowlife may no longer be shocking, but what is shocking,is to see a major studio film linger this lovingly on characters who have nothing to offer the audience but their own lost souls.” — Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly