Film / Midnight Cowboy

"HEY! I'm walkin' here! I'm walkin' here!"

A 1969 film adapted from the novel of the same name by James Leo Herlihy, directed by John Schlesinger and starring Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman.

Joe Buck (Voight) is a dishwasher in a rural Texas diner. He's not the sharpest knife in the drawer. One day, he decides to dress like a rodeo cowboy and move to New York City, 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 (Hoffman), a small-time con man with a bad leg and tuberculosis. 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—this being when the new "X" rating was meant to signify any kind of film for adults only and was not yet associated with porn (it was reduced to an "R" the following year anyway). However, it won Academy Awards for Best Picture and Director and for Waldo Salt's adapted screenplay, and is now seen as one of the defining movies of its era.

"HEY! I'm tropin' here!"

  • Camp Gay: Jackie, the swishy guy who flirts with Joe (and spars with Rizzo) at the bar.
  • Coolest Club Ever: The Warholesque invitation-only party Joe and Rizzo attend. (Several of Warhol's "superstars" appear as extras.)
  • Country Mouse: Both played straight and subverted with Joe.
  • Creator Cameo: Waldo Salt, who wrote the screenplay for the film, is briefly seen as a TV talk-show host.
  • Downer Ending: Joe and Rizzo take a bus from New York to Miami to fulfill Rizzo's dream of living there. Not far outside Miami, Joe realizes that Rizzo has quietly died in the seat next to him. The movie ends with Joe hugging his dead friend and shedding Manly Tears as the bus continues towards Miami.
  • Dumb Blonde: Joe's blond and not too bright.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Rizzo strongly dislikes being called "Ratso" and twice asks Joe to call him Rico instead.
  • Everybody Must Get Stoned: The underground party.
  • Fake-Out Opening: The film begins with a white screen and the traditional movie Western sounds of cowboys and Indians fighting. Then the camera pulls back to reveal the blank screen of an empty Drive-In Theater.
  • 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 Ho Yay, as Rizzo has a fantasy dream sequence of the two of them running along a sunny beach together.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Joe is a rare male example.
  • Imagine Spot: Rizzo pictures himself and Joe living the good life in Florida.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: Joe flashes back to his grandmother singing "Hush, Little Baby" while riding the bus at night.
  • Jerkass: Rizzo, a good deal of the time.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • According to Hoffman, the line was his natural reaction when a car unexpectedly ran a red light and nearly hit him while crossing the street; Hoffman said the close call prompted him to ad-lib the line in genuine surprise, but that he resumed character thereafter in an effort not to ruin the take.