Midnight Cowboy

on June 16, 1969 by BOXOFFICE Staff
How the mass audience is going to react to this United Artists release is anybody's guess, since it can honestly be said there's never been anything quite like it. "Midnight Cowboy" in DeLuxe Color graphically depicts the sordid world of New York's male prostitutes, a nightmare country of fading youth and bartered sex that is as harrowing as anything yet seen on theatre screens. At its core, however, it's also a compassionate, brutally touching love story about two men, both emotional cripples, who discover their real need for each other too late. Dustin Hoffman, almost unrecognizable as the sickly Ratso Rizzo, appears for the first time since "The Graduate," and newcomer Jon Voight here makes what may well be the most impressive motion picture debut in history. Together they are sensational, with director John Schlesinger ("Darling") capturing the horror and cruelty of the New York underground with a chilling exactness and evoking such outstanding performances from a large supporting cast that the film is bound to be the most discussed work of the year. So much of it is so good that space doesn't allow mention of all the talents involved, but "Midnight Cowboy" is quite a film and one that looms as an adult attraction of truly blockbuster proportions.

Dreaming of easy money, Joe Buck (Jon Voight) leaves his Texas home and heads for New York where he plans to sell his stud services to wealthy ladies. First fleeced, then befriended, by the diseased and down-and-out Ratso Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman), Buck finds the going rougher than he expected. He takes to the 42nd Street movie balconies and their homosexual clientele where he remembers his hometown girl friend and a gang-rape of both of them by a pack of toughs. Ratso dreams of recovering his health in Florida and the two men share a mutual understanding and need that goes deeper than they know of. After running with assorted New York types, including socialite Brenda Vaccaro, Buck sadistically beats up a pathetic old homosexual to get money for the trip to the South. On the bus, shortly after the Florida border is passed, Ratso dies, and Joe Buck is left holding the body of his friend and facing an empty future.

With the story and treatment, the appearance of Dustin Hoffman and the debut of a new star (Jon Voight) this picture has more than enough going for it. Word-of-mouth should be sensational, and review quotes more than adequate to arouse interest. Music in the film has real selling potential.

Dustin Hoffman is Ratso Rizzo... Jon Voight is the cowboy. He sold himself to the highest bidder! United Artists 119 mins.

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