04 December 2013

Finally watched Midnight Cowboy, the clips of Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman shuffling down 42th street had me curious. Voight plays the naive Texan hustler, who moves to New York with big dreams, meets Hoffman, the eccentric con man Ratso Rizzo. Perhaps due to adversity, each are constantly scheming up new ways to earn a dollar, and in the process form a tight bond. A powerful duo portraying these excruciatingly human downtrodden souls, hallucinogenic colors expressed the instability life sometimes brings set against a buoyant soundtrack.

Joe Buck is a green but eager budding male prostitute who can not wait to meet his potential clients. His youthful pretty face, fringe jacket and boots reminds me of a cheeky kind of porn star. During pivotal scenes, he enters flashbacks of a lonely childhood, he and his girlfriend being raped by townsfolk, and neglectful adults in his youth. His encounters with women and men takes a spin and he ends up giving them money and in most cases they hustle him. I found the graphic sex scenes were hard to watch.  

"I'm walkin' here!" became a classic line as Ratso, real name Rico, bangs on the hood of a cab that nearly hit him, with his voice taken to exaggeration. You immediately get the vibe that he's been thrown out of modern society and is left to invent ways to survive. Disappointments are translated into physical manifestations. Dustin is always an unexpected heartthrob with a cool swagger, and that is why I love him.

Buck and Rizzo are an unlikely pair who, in their attempts to scratch their way to the top, build an emotional partnership. On their bus ride to Florida, Joe looks brightly to the future and his need to make an honest living with an enthusiastic smile. Completely broken in body and spirit, Rico slips away.

This psychedelic film, from 1969, still holds up today as a riveting statement on social mores and friendship. The first and only X-rated film to win the Academy's Best Picture award.

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