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.