‘Midnight Cowboy’ is just dust in the wind


Midnight Cowboy (1969)

Directed by John Schlesinger

5/10  R

This thing won 3 Oscars? The only thing that should have won an Oscar for this movie was Dustin Hoffman, and he didn’t even win. Best Picture? I admit the field was weak. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is the only other nomination that I even recognize. Anyway, Midnight Cowboy stars Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman, and was directed by John Schlesinger (Marathon Man).

Joe Buck (Voight), a native Texan and self-proclaimed stud, travels to New York City because the women are “begging for it, paying for it too, and the men–they’re mostly tuttie fruttis.” So he heads east trying to find some ladies. After a couple failed “hustles,” Joe meets former hustler Rico “Ratso” Rizzo (quite a name, eh?), played by Hoffman. Business is down, the two resort to stealing food to survive, and Joe turns to men to make the money he wanted to make with women. It must have been awful for the ol’ cowboy, talking down on the “tutti fruttis” just to become one. In the end, the ill Rizzo steals up all of Joe’s time just when business is booming, and the end…well I’ll just say I’ve seen better.

Hoffman is great. He limps, he coughs, he is a rat by almost every definition of the word.  He deserved his Oscar nomination. Voight is far less than stellar. I’ll watch Holes a million times before I see him in this again. He, on the other hand, stole his nomination from Walter Matthau in Hello, Dolly or Dennis Hopper in Easy Rider…neither movies I’ve seen but both I assume are better than this. The girls are forgettable, literally the only thing I remember about any of them is that almost all of them got naked at some point. I suppose that’s the nature of the film.


The entire film was scattered with odd, uninteresting montages of different flashbacks Joe Buck had during his times in New York. They were quick-paced and too often shown in the film, and beyond that I found them mostly useless and irrelevant. I love watching movies and I normally take pride in understanding them, but these flashbacks just lost me. The movie would have been much better, and 30 minutes shorter, without them.

All in all, Midnight Cowboy is a sad excuse for a Best Picture Academy Award-winning film, and if I hadn’t seen it I would have made better use of my time. Dustin Hoffman is brilliant, but towards the end, we lose sight of him and his character is reduced to incessant hacking and sweating. I was hoping for a great film, but what I got was less than perfect. If you can rent it at your local library, it may be worth seeing just so you can join the debate, but I would never pay to see this film.

2 thoughts on “‘Midnight Cowboy’ is just dust in the wind

  1. I saw this when it first came out and all I can say is that it probably seemed very daring and groundbreaking then and that is why it received Best Picture Of The Year. As you said, Dustin Hoffman WAS great. What happens to these great actors as they get older? Do they lose the energy to create memorable characters. Do they lose the desire? Do they just want to collect an easy paycheck? I know I’m stereotyping but, come on…!

  2. You are probably right on track, I didn’t take into account the culture back then. It sounds like you’re saying Dustin Hoffman isn’t great anymore? 20 years after that, I loved Rain Man. And even in things like Meet the Fockers he can get a laugh out of me!

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