Midnight Cowboy

Midnight Cowboy

USA | 1969 | 113 min. | John Schlesinger

The only X-rated movie to win the Best Picture Oscar®, John Schlesinger’s innovative and disruptive drama tells of two outcasts, sex worker Joe Buck (Jon Voight) and con man Ratso Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman), as they struggle to survive in an uncaring America.

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While every film that wins the Best Picture Oscar® arguably provides a snapshot of its time, few of them perfectly encapsulate the era of their creation as well as Midnight Cowboy. Based on James Leo Herlihy's acclaimed novel, the film follows the exploits of Joe Buck (Jon Voight), a dishwasher who flees his small Texas hometown to work as a male prostitute in New York City. However, once there, he struggles to score big with the city's wealthy women. He soon crosses paths with Rico "Ratso" Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman), an ailing con man with a bum leg who hustles Buck out of $20. Despite this inauspicious first encounter, the pair cautiously enter into a "business relationship," and Buck moves into Rizzo's impoverished squat. Living hand-to-mouth and through a severe winter only serves to deepen their bond, as does Rizzo's quixotic dream of escaping to Florida, but the harsh reality of NYC leads to inevitable tragedy. The only X-rated film to receive the Best Picture award, Midnight Cowboy captured the economic collapse, social unrest, and cultural upheaval that was emerging in cityscapes across America, while Voight and Hoffman's performances under John Schlesinger's assured direction instilled the picture with an affecting, deeply heartfelt humanity.

Dan Doody

  • Director: John Schlesinger
  • Principal Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Jon Voight, Sylvia Miles, John McGiver, Brenda Vaccaro
  • Country: USA
  • Year: 1969
  • Running Time: 113 min.
  • Producer: Jerome Hellman
  • Screenplay: Waldo Salt
  • Cinematographers: Adam Holender
  • Editors: Hugh A. Robertson
  • Music: John Barry
  • Website: Official Film Website
  • Awards: 42nd Academy Awards® 1970 (Best Picture, Director, Screenplay), BAFTA Awards 1970 (Best Film, Actor, Direction, Editing, Screenplay, Promising Newcomer)
  • Filmography: The Innocent (1993), Yanks (1983), Marathon Man (1976), Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971)
  • Language: English
  • US Distributor: Park Circus
  • International Sales: Park Circus