Joe Buck (Jon Voight), an aspiring male prostitute from Texas, heads to Manhattan where he hopes to find plenty of wealthy women willing to pay for the services of a handsome man. When he arrives, the naive country boy befriends Ratso Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman), a tubercular homeless con artist who dreams of moving to Florida. As they go about trying to get the money Ratso needs, the two men confront the seediness, corruption, and cruelty that flourish in the big city. Based on the novel by James Leo Herlihy, this Oscar-winning film (Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay) features brilliant performances by Voight and Hoffman, and brings to the screen an unusually gritty realism in its portrayal of the streets of New York City.
1969 - Academy Awards - Best Picture - Winner
1969 - Academy Awards - Best Director - Winner
1969 - Academy Awards - Best Adapted Screenplay - Winner
Main Cast & Crew:
John Schlesinger - Director
- Format: DVD
- Run Time: 113
- Color Format: Color
- UPC: 027616603890
- Genre: Drama
- Rating: R (MPAA)
- Release Date: February 2006
Originally rated X, this exceptional film based on James Leo Herlihy's novel centers on a naive, small-town Texan who comes to New York to become a paid stud. He forms a unique relationship with a slimy con man who becomes his closest friend, and ultimately, the key to his salvation. The film depicts New York at its absolute grittiest, and features a very memorable soundtrack. Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay. Academy Award Nominations: 7, including Best Actor--both Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight.
Theatrical release: 1969. Shot in Technicolor. MIDNIGHT COWBOY was added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1994. Director John Schlesinger originally wanted actor Michael Sarrazin for the Joe Buck role, but he was already committed to THEY SHOOT HORSES, DON'T THEY? MIDNIGHT COWBOY was Dustin Hoffman's first film after his star-making turn in THE GRADUATE. To achieve that distinctive Ratso Rizzo limp, Hoffman placed pebbles in his shoes. "Everybody's Talkin'" was featured on Harry Nilsson's 1968 album AERIAL BALLET. Nilsson's intended theme for COWBOY was "I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City," written by Nilsson specifically for the film. The film was named one of the year's 10 Best English-language films by the National Board of Review, one of the year's 10 best foreign films by Japan's Kinema Jumpo, and the best non-European film of 1970 by Denmark's Bodil awards. Schlesinger received best foreign director of 1969-70 from two Italian awards, the Davids and the Silver Ribbons. Hoffman was named best actor of 1969-70 by Italy's David Awards. Voight was named Best Actor by the New York Film Critics and the National Society of Film Critics. A restored print of MIDNIGHT COWBOY was re-released to theaters in late February 1994 to commemorate the film's 25th anniversary. COWBOY was the first major studio release to sport an X rating and was the first X-rated film to win the Best Picture Academy Award. It was re-rated R by the MPAA in 1971.
"...[The performances] have lost none of their magic....[They show us] characters who have nothing to offer the audience but their own lost souls." -- Rating: A- - 03/11/1994 Entertainment Weekly, p.42
"...What knocked people out 25 years ago, the parallel performances of Voight and Hoffman, still have the power today..." - 02/20/1994 Los Angeles Times, p.F3
"...The '69 Oscar-winner seems fresher than ever..." - 03/06/1992 USA Today, p.3D
"[T]his is a story of dreams unfulfilled, and Hoffman' pathetic street rat, both hilarious and heartbreakingly sad, becomes a kind of tragic hero." - 04/01/2004 Premiere, p.66
"[A] haunting 1969 classic about a conflicted connection between a naïve Texan hustler and a sickly Bronx-born scammer." - 02/23/2006 Rolling Stone, p.74
5 stars out of 5 -- "The elegiac ending offers one of the most tender, understated goodbyes in American cinema." - 06/01/2011 Total Film
"[E]verything is delivered with such potency and force and the Harry Nilsson song 'Everybody’s Talkin’' is one of the most evocative of the age." - 09/12/2019 The Guardian