Nicolò Grasso’s review published on Letterboxd:
Original Title: Midnight Cowboy
Year of Release: 1969
Director: John Schlesinger
Writer: Waldo Salt; James Leo Herlihy (based on the novel)
Main Cast: Jon Voight, Dustin Hoffman, Sylvia Miles, John McGiver, Brenda Vaccaro, Barnard Hughes, Ruth White, Jennifer Salt
It's lovely how great the use of a theme song is in The Graduate and Midnight Cowboy: in the former, "The Sound of Silence" serves to show just how detached Benjamin is from his life, while in the latter "Everybody's Talking" shows how naive and gullible Joe is.
Midnight Cowboy winning Best Picture in 1970 at the Oscars signaled what was to come in the new decade: more and more films started to focus on life as it is, filming in the streets, focusing on damaged individuals, demystifying American ideals and showing how rotten a nation truly can be. The working class and the poor becoming the protagonists, and the films feature dirty characters in dirty places.
What works really well in Midnight Cowboy is the central relationship between Joe and Ratso, how they help each other out and how they bond on a level deeper than friendship. Not only was this quite ahead of its time, but it is told with such earnestness that it's hard not to fall for these characters. While there are some light moments of humor, the film gets progressively darker and more depressing, a tale of a man who aims to become rich by essentially becoming a gigolo for older ladies, yet finds himself forced to satisfy lonely poor men.
Fantastic performances, excellent soundtrack, really inventive editing and use of montages, and a critique of the American dream that never gets old. Quite deserving of its win, and a landmark in New Hollywood films.
Visual Effects: 8
Violence & Gore: 3
Sex & Nudity: 5.5
Drugs & Profanity: 4
Intensity & Horror: 3