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125 of 134 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gritty New York with all its contrasts and inconsistencies
An academy award winner in 1969 in spite of having an X rating, this is one of those classic films that have aged well. British director John Schlessinger, in his first American film, captured the gritty sordidness of New York City, as it was in those days, with all its contrasts and inconsistencies. We see a man sprawled on the sidewalk in front of an upscale jewelry...
Published on July 15, 2001 by Linda Linguvic

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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Films of All Time! Too Bad About the DVD!
They sure don't make films today like they used to and this film has pretty good company having been made around the time of "Easy Rider", "2001-A Space Odyssey", "The Graduate" all great films that address social and other issues aka films of great depth that transcend the ages. This film is sometimes funny, certainly shocking but for me very moving and touching. This...
Published on August 10, 2008 by Frederick Baptist


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125 of 134 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gritty New York with all its contrasts and inconsistencies, July 15, 2001
This review is from: Midnight Cowboy [VHS] (VHS Tape)
An academy award winner in 1969 in spite of having an X rating, this is one of those classic films that have aged well. British director John Schlessinger, in his first American film, captured the gritty sordidness of New York City, as it was in those days, with all its contrasts and inconsistencies. We see a man sprawled on the sidewalk in front of an upscale jewelry store being ignored by passersby.
Jon Voight is cast as Joe Buck, a young man from Texas who comes to New York with the dream of becoming a male prostitute. Dustin Hoffman is Rico Ratzo Rizzo, a the crippled street-wise hustler who first cons the young Texan and later befriends him. Together, these two outcasts form a strange bond as they struggle to survive on the streets of New York. Joe Bucks' story is told with flashbacks and surreal fantasy sequences, which seem unfocussed at times, but give us an understanding of who he is. Ratzo, however, doesn't need this kind of cinematographic background; his quirky character is all right there.
The film is full of memorable characters - Sylvia Miles as an aging Park Avenue woman with a thick New York accent who considers herself "one helluva gorgeous chick", John McGiver, the religious nutjob who Joe Buck thinks will give him connections to rich women, and Brenda Vacarro who takes Joe home with her after a psychedelic party. There's a memorable soundtrack too -- "The Echoes of My Mind". And then there's the memorable conclusion which takes place on a bus headed for Florida.
I loved this video but it's not for everybody. It's downbeat and sad and disturbing. But it says something about human nature and human connection. And it pictures a way of life that might not be pleasant but is a reality. Recommended.
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55 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, mind-opening, ultimately heartbreaking., June 10, 2002
This review is from: Midnight Cowboy (DVD)
I saw Midnight Cowboy for the first time last night, and I'm furious with myself for waiting so long to give it a shot. I reacted to it in a very personal way, and it's been on my mind all day. Hoffman and Voigt's performances are pitch-perfect, Schlesinger's direction is daring, snappy, unique, Waldo Salt's screenplay is full of wit and compassion, and the fabulous music really sets the tone. Unlike many others I don't feel that the movie has dated in any serious way. The much-talked-about acid-trip party sequence does look very 60s, but it isn't embarrassing or anything. Besides, the movie was made and is set in the 60s, so whaddya expect? As a previous reviewer mentioned, the director was hardly gonna make this picture with the 21st Century audience in mind. He made it as a reflection of the time and place. (This is common in Schlesinger's work -- he has a remarkable eye for detail.) Most importantly, modern audiences will still be able to relate to all the movie's main themes, like lonliness, confusion, friendship, sex and disappointment. The only real problem I have with the film is that at times it seems strongly homophobic -- the few gay characters who are developed in the movie are all presented as pathetic, sadomasochistic crazies. But then, the movie takes a harsh attitude to all the characters except the two leads, so perhaps I'm overreacting. So, anyone who considers themselves film buffs simply must watch Midnight Cowboy. Not because it's a well-known much-quoted classic of cultural significance (which it is as well) but because it'll genuinely make you laugh and cry, and later, think. Actually, whoever you are, watch it anyway. Yours truly is certain you won't be disappointed.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Film Still Moves Me, February 26, 2004
This review is from: Midnight Cowboy [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Based on the novel by James Leo Herlihy, MIDNIGHT COWBOY, directed by John Schlesinger, seemed so on the cutting edge in 1969. Both Dustin Hoffman (Ratzo Rizzo) and John Voight (Joe Buck) were nominated for an Oscar for best actor-- as I recall, conventional wisdom was that they cancelled each other out-- but the movie received the Best Picture Award and Schlesinger walked away with the Award for Best Director.
I remember being blown away by the movie in '69. A great admirer of Schlesinger, I watched the movie again recently for the first time since its initial release. I wanted to see if it still was as powerful as I remembered. This time around parts of it seem stuck in the 60's-- the New York party that Ratzo and Joe attend, for example, and the pathetic homosexual-- nope, we can't call him gay-- who picks up Joe and feels he deserves the beating Joe gives him, after he calls his mother on the telephone. Of course, 1969 was the year that a group of despised dragqueens held police officers at bay for a couple of days in another part of New York at a bar called Stonewall. Although those of us in the provences weren't aware of it yet, the times, they were a-changing.
On the other hand, the characters of both Ratzo and Joe endure. Who will ever forgot Joe's hopelessly inept attempt at hustling Sylvia Miles or Ratzo, the real con artist, with his ever present limp. They would make any film critic's list of most memorable characters of the last half of the Twentieth Century. The movie obviously is about finding friendship in unlikely places. Everyone, from the most wealthy to the most down and out, needs love.
Finally, Ratzo and Joe's bus ride into the warm and balmy Miami to get away from the cold New York winter moved me as much today as it did when I first saw the movie. The ending made my eyes burn again almost 35 years later. This film will endure.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best movie of all time. Really., April 13, 2005
This review is from: Midnight Cowboy (DVD)
Yes, you read that right-- it's the best! Of all time! Now with me being a total moviephile, that's a big achievement for a film. Hundreds go into my cosideration, and only ten are chosen as TRULY GREAT. And Midnight Cowboy is the daddy of 'em all.

here's why:

1.)Excellent storyline. It's tragic, poignant, sometimes funny (like the strange things you hear on Joe's radio, or see on the picket signs of protesters, for example, one sign said, "Liberate freedom!" I got a kick out of that). Plus, who can resist a buddy drama? The friendship that grows between Ratso and Joe is... ineffable. They're like Frodo and Sam, only cooler. And who can resist a late-coming-of-age story? How about the plight of the poor, and life on the edges? It just blows my mind.It's SO SAD! All of the characters are so fully-realized (Joe, giving in when the old lady asks him for money, or not taking the kid's watch...! ! ! Or Ratso, trying to help Joe out, falling down those stairs, dreaming of Florida...! But I digress.)

This movie isn't afraid of blatant symbolism. Nowadays movies seem too cool to have blatant symbolism like the radio or the sign or the ring (etc! I could go on for hours!). Now if you cough and miss a line, whoosh, you miss the symbolism. And what beefs up a piece better? It's reassurance. And I love it.

2.) The acting. OH MY GOD!!! I cried like a GAZILLION times during this movie, mainly because there were no actors. They were real people. Real people! And the whole thing was so real, and so poignant, and it's not like they're idealized characters, far from it, but they're so easy to relate to (outsiders, losers, flailing and failing).

3.)Beautiful music. I listen to the soundtrack all the time. It starts out with the hopeful "Everybody's Talkin'", which is about new experiences and having high hopes for the future (like "finally moving on to where I want to be in life!") Then the soundtrack descends into depressing, lonely cowboy songs and drug-addled experimentalist music. A lot of it is quite "period" but that detracts none of the music's validity. The songs are all great. But then in the end, "Everybody's Talkin'", again, as Joe decides to straighten up his act and accept reality.

In case you haven't noticed, yeah, this is one AWESOME MOVIE.

Plus the direction was cool. There were the zoom-in shots, which have been retired, apparently, and there was no bland, fearful cinematography. This movie was so sincere, it was like an open door. That's what makes it great. It leaves itself open for anyone with its sincerity, which is either the makings of a Great One or of a bomb (so easy to laugh at a bad, sincere movie!).

In this case, Duh! It's a Great One!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Films of All Time! Too Bad About the DVD!, August 10, 2008
This review is from: Midnight Cowboy (DVD)
They sure don't make films today like they used to and this film has pretty good company having been made around the time of "Easy Rider", "2001-A Space Odyssey", "The Graduate" all great films that address social and other issues aka films of great depth that transcend the ages. This film is sometimes funny, certainly shocking but for me very moving and touching. This film is about people and how they use and are used by others ultimately causing them to become and to live the way that they do. Some may say that little has changed since 1969 and that's probably why this film will continue to stand the test of time and remain the classic that it still is. 2 people are used by others for their selfish needs and in the midst of their despair at not being able to achieve their dreams they find redemption and learn to care for each other.

I thought both Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman were excellent in their roles and the film just like in "Easy Rider" unabashedly shows the life of the underbelly of New York City at the time warts and all just as that film tried to do the same for the Hippy movement of the time in California. I especially liked the New York Underground party scene that gives us a glimpse of what Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground were singing about in their classic 1967 album.

The only problem is with the quality of the dvd. The sound quality is okay having been given the Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround treatment but the picture quality is woeful filled with white spots and other imperfections throughout.

Daring, disturbing, sad but ultimately moving and heartwarming to see that in the depths of despair and sleaze, human dignity, compassion and friendship can still survive as two apparent misfits from society's point of view end up being the only truly sane and humane people in the film.

A very good film and one of my personal favourites although you should wait for the Blu-ray version if it has a properly restored version for a vastly improved picture and sound quality.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece, February 9, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Midnight Cowboy [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Most likely being one of the best films ever made, "Midnight Cowboy" is an incredibly original and savagely honest film that takes a look at the big dreams people hold for themselves, and the cold, brutal realities behind them. The performances given by the two lead actors, Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman are absolutely brilliant. Voight`s character, Joe Buck, is a young and naive Texas man who flees to New York City, dreaming of becoming a big-shot huslter. Hoffman plays an ailing and sleazy con-man name Ratso Rizzo, who meets Joe along the way. Together, the two slowly witness their lives falling apart, as the brutal urban jungle robs them of food, money, diginity and ultimately hope. The film`s depiction of the street life in the sixties is accurate, and we watch the two drifters`s struggle for survival, and wandering around the seedy undergrounds of the city. But what Joe and Ratso realise is that what they really need is each other, and the two lean on each for support. Sadly enough, by the time they reach their dream destination, it is too late. The ending of the film is heart-shattering, and it will leave you crushed and emotionally-drained. A truly powerful, exceptional and haunting treasure.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars REDEMPTION FOR TWO MISGUIDED SEEKERS, February 9, 2002
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This review is from: Midnight Cowboy (DVD)
This movie is about two men, Joe Buck and Ratso Rizzo, searching for their version of Oz. Both men, one a naive "cowboy" from Texas, the other a crippled thief from New York, have their own vision of Oz which they believe will save them. Joe Buck's Oz is achieving fame, fortune, and attention through his super good looks, which he believes will land him in dozens of penthouses with lots of rich old women. Ratso's Oz is getting out of his condemned building and moving to Florida, where he will find tropical paradise, an eden in an America that has no place for poor cripples. It's heart-breaking to see the big X over the "window" of Ratso's condemned building, for Ratso and the abused Joe Buck have been X-ed from the American Dream, the life of opulence that surrounds them but which they can never really enter. In the end these misfits find redemption, not through the tawdry chimeras of success that America spawns, but from a deep, beautiful love they learn to share for each other. The evolution of Joe Buck from naive ersatz cowboy to substantive, empathic man is indeed tearful to watch but never sentimental.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Midnight Cowboy Stands the Test of Time, December 25, 1999
By 
"scoobles" (Connecticut, United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Midnight Cowboy (DVD)
Midnight Cowboy is an Oscar-winning movie that stays with you long after viewing. It has a timeless message about urban life, searching for dreams and the reality of living.
The movie is very very strong and affecting. The best is to see the whole movie without the editing for television, so that one can follow the story of Joe's life back in the country. The flashback scenes are crucial to understanding why Joe came to New York and the television versions cut these out!
When first released, it was rated X! But this refers to the party scenes including drug use and sexual content of some scene of the movie. These scenes are MILD compared to the majority of R-rated films today.
"Cowboy" Joe Buck (Voight) tries to make a living as a male prostitute, what he feels he does best. This belief is shaken by the harshness of New York City living.
Joe meets Enrico "Ratso" Rizzo and teams up with a poverty-stricken handicapped man to find a dream for both of them. The end of this film is amazing and I challenge anyone to stop himself from be moved at the closing scene. Coupled with the haunting musical theme, Hoffmann makes a presentation not soon to be forgotten.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two Stellar Performances and a Pervasive Honesty Make This One Still a Winner, April 5, 2006
It's not quite the timeless masterpiece you would hope it would be based on the acclaim it garnered, but 1969's "Midnight Cowboy" is still a powerhouse showcase for two young actors just bursting into view at the time. Directed by John Schlesinger and written by Waldo Salt, the movie seems to be a product of its time, the late 1960's when American films were especially expressionistic, but it still casts a spell because the story comes down to themes of loneliness and bonding that resonate no matter what period. The film's cinematic influence can still be felt in the unspoken emotionalism found in Ang Lee's "Brokeback Mountain".

The meandering plot follows Joe Buck, a naive, young Texan who decides to move to Manhattan to become a stud-for-hire for rich women. Full of energy but lacking any savvy, he fails miserably but is unwilling to concede defeat despite his dwindling finances. He meets a cynical, sickly petty thief named "Ratso" Rizzo, who first sees Joe as an easy pawn. The two become dependent on one another, and Rizzo begins to manage Joe. Things come to a head at a psychedelic, drug-infested party where Joe finally lands a paying client. Meanwhile, Rizzo becomes sicker, and the two set off for Florida to seek a better life. This is not a story that will appeal to everyone, in fact, some may still find it repellant that a hustler and a thief are turned into sympathetic figures, yet their predicaments feel achingly authentic.

In his first major role, Jon Voight is ideally cast as he brings out Joe's paper-thin bravado and deepening sexual insecurities. As Rizzo, Dustin Hoffman successfully upends his clean, post-college image from "The Graduate" and immerses himself in the personal degradation and glimmering hope that act as an oddly compatible counterpoint to Joe. The honesty of their portrayals is complemented by Schlesinger's film treatment which vividly captures the squalor of the Times Square district at the time. The director also effectively inserts montages of flashbacks and fantasy sequences to fill in the character's fragile psyches. Credit also needs to go to Salt for not letting the pervasive cynicism overwhelm the pathos of the story. The other performances are merely incidental to the journeys of the main characters, including Brenda Vaccaro as the woman Joe meets at the party, Sylvia Miles as a blowsy matron, John McGiver as a religious zealot and Barnard Hughes as a lonely out-of-towner.

The two-disc 2006 DVD package contains a pristine print transfer of the 1994 restoration and informative commentary from producer Jerome Hellman since unfortunately neither Schlesinger nor Salt are still living. There are three terrific featurettes on the second disc - a look-back documentary, "After Midnight: Reflections on a Classic 35 Years Later", which features comments from Hellman, Hoffman, Voight and others, as well as clips and related archive footage such as Voight's screen test; "Controversy and Acclaim", which examines the genesis of the movie's initial 'X' rating and public response to the film; and a tribute to the celebrated director, "Celebrating Schlesinger".
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars After Midnight, February 20, 2003
This review is from: Midnight Cowboy (DVD)
1969's Midnight Cowboy helped usher in a new era in filmmaking. The industry was no longer saddled with the studio's moral standard codes that did not allow nudity, cursing or violence and directors set out to depict life in graphic detail. British director John Schlesinger's first American film adapted the novel of James Leo Herlihy and follows the paths of two lowlifes living in New York City. Jon Voight appears in his star-making role of Joe Buck, a dreamer who comes to New York from Texas to live what he thinks will be the easy life as a gigolo. He quickly finds out hustling isn't as easy as he'd thought it would be when he actually ends up paying for the first trick he turns. He then runs into Enrico "Ratso" Rizzo, a sickly, gimpy con man who swindles money out of Joe. Ratso is played by Dustin Hoffman who fulfilled the promise he showed in The Graduate with a gritty, gutsy performance. Ratso takes pity on Joe afterwards and invites him to stay in his apartment, which is actually in a condemned building. They try to eke out a living and Joe actually gets his first legitimate customer who takes him to a weird, psychedelic party. This scene is dated with its counterculture imagery, but it doesn't detract from the power of the film. Ratso's illness is too far gone for him to survive the New York winter, so Joe in one act of selflessness turns a homosexual trick to get money for them to take a bus to Florida. The film is filled with what was at the time shocking sexual commentary and scenes that today are commonplace in films and even appear on television. The film received an X rating and became the only X-rated film to win the Best Picture Oscar. Mr. Schlesinger won for Best Director and Waldo Salt won for Best Adapted Screenplay. Mr. Voight & Mr. Hoffman were both nominated for Best Actor, but probably cancelled each other out and paved the way for John Wayne to win his only Oscar. Midnight Cowboy is no longer shocking by today's standards, but it is still a powerful and moving film and captures what the feeling of the New York underworld must have been like in the late sixties.
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Midnight Cowboy [VHS]
Midnight Cowboy [VHS] by John Schlesinger (VHS Tape - 1998)
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