is a 1965 novel by James Leo Herlihy, adapted into a 1969 film directed by John Schlesinger and starring Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman
. This article deals primarily with the movie.
Joe Buck is a dishwasher in a rural Texas diner. He's not very bright
. One day, he decides to dress like a rodeo cowboy and move to New York, hoping to prostitute himself to wealthy women. He burns through his savings very quickly, unable to hustle, and is taken in by Enrico "Ratso" Rizzo, a small-time con man with a bad leg and pneumonia. They scrape by as best they can, hoping to escape to Florida one day...
The movie garnered quite a bit of controversy upon its release, being given an "X" rating
by the MPAA
(though this was reduced to an "R" the following year). It is seen as one of the defining movies of the late '60s.
Midnight Cowboy contains examples of:
- Big Applesauce
- The Big Rotten Apple
- Coolest Club Ever
- Dies Wide Open
- Disability as an Excuse for Jerkassery
- Don't You Dare Pity Me!
- Downer Ending
- Drive-In Theater: The film opens with a shot of the "Big Tex Drive-In".
- Everybody Must Get Stoned
- Gay Cowboy: Much to Joe's embarrassment, his studly cowboy persona utterly fails to win over any New York women, and only attracts men. Rizzo even flat-out tells him that only gay men like cowboys, but Joe still insists on the outfit because it makes him feel good.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Rizzo and Joe. Though not without a fair bit of hoyay, as Rizzo has a few fantasy dream sequences of the two of them running along a sunny beach together.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold
- Imagine Spot
- Incurable Cough of Death
- Ironic Nursery Tune
- Jerkass: Rizzo, a good deal of the time.
- Large Ham: O'Daniel.
- Leitmotif: ''Everybody's Talkin'", used for Joe Buck.
- The Loins Sleep Tonight: Joe experiences this with Shirley.
- Mind Screw: The flashbacks to Joe Buck's past in Texas make a lot more sense if you've read the book, where the situations are described in depth.
- Naked in Mink
- New-Age Retro Hippie
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: In the "I'm walkin' here" scene. Hoffman yells it in his real accent, before resuming his character's accent. He also stops limping briefly, despite his character having a crippled leg.
- One Head Taller: Rizzo and Joe Buck.
- Rape as Drama: The flashbacks of "Crazy Annie" and Joe Buck getting gang raped.
- Real Song Theme Tune: Harry Nilsson's "Everybody's Talkin'".
- Red Light District: 42nd Street.
- Signature Line: "I'm walkin' here! I'm walkin' here!"
- Slippery Soap: Dropped by Joe in the very first scene.
- Smoking Hot Sex: Subverted. Joe Buck and Shirley smoke out of frustration, after he is hit with erectile dysfunction.
- Something Else Also Rises
- Throw It In: The Signature Line of "I'm walkin' here!" was unscripted. Because of the low budget, they didn't have permits to close New York streets and had to film with hidden cameras. In that particular scene, a taxi ran the red light and almost ran over Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight. Hoffman almost said "I'm actin' here" before remembering to stay in character (though does forget the accent and limp). Fortunately, this adds to the "welcome to New York" feel of the film, and hints there's more to Ratso than it appears.
** There is some dispute over the scene, though. The director claims the taxi was driven by a stunt driver who was supposed to elicit such a reaction from Hoffman, while Hoffman claims it was all unscripted. Since, if Hoffman is to be believed, he's ad libbed every line in every movie he's been in, his claim should be taken with a grain of salt, however the fact that traffic wasn't closed and it was filmed with hidden cameras certainly gives more credibility to Hoffman than the director.
- And considering Hoffman doesn't break character, but loses his accent and forgets his limp, it does lend to the theory that it was unscripted.
- Too Dumb to Live: Joe Buck sure loves handing out money to people who ask.
- What Could Have Been: Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight were almost run over by the taxi in the "I'm walkin' here!" scene.
- Wrong Side of the Tracks