Midnight Cowboy ★★★★★

Has there been any better male friendship delineated in cinema than between Joe Buck and Ratso, here in 'Midnight Cowboy"? I'm not really sure. The only one I can come up with that comes close (though perhaps I'm just drawing a mental blank right now, as I haven't even had any caffeine yet today) is between Burgess Meredith and Lon Chaney Jr.'s characters in Lewis Milestone's rendition of 'Of Mice and Men' (another bona-fide American classic). Over time, I have come to appreciate the work of both Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight; it wasn't natural for me, but there work here is definitely amongst the finest of their careers. The only other film I've seen thus far by Hampstead-native, director John Schlesinger, is 'Billy Liar', another exquisitely successful literary adaptation.

The 1994 winner of National Film Registry won three of its seven Oscar nominations, taking the statuettes for Best Picture and Best Director (it was Schlesinger's sole win, though three times nominated), while the formerly-blacklisted Waldo Salt won his first of two Oscars for Best Screenplay. Both Los Angeles-native Hoffman (winner of two Oscars in seven times nominated) and Yonkers-native Voight (winner of one Academy Award, though nominated four times) lost in Best Actor to John Wayne for 'True Grit'; twice-nominated New York City-born Sylvia Miles lost in Best Supporting Actress to Goldie Hawn for 'Cactus Flower', while the Best Film Editing Oscar went, instead, to the political thriller 'Z'.

This is one of the classic fish-out-of-water experiences in cinema, and is definitely worth both a purchase and re-watches for any self-respecting cinephile of great American cinema. Almost 50 years later, its sense of disorientation, alienation and trying so hard both to belong and to make it only screams out to us ever louder.