Monday, November 7, 2011

Midnight Cowboy - 76

1970 Winner.  Dustin Hoffman, Jon Voight.  No other major awards besides Best Director, though Voight and Hoffman were nominated for the roles they portrayed. Garnered 7 Oscar nominations even though it was a rated 'X' movie.

I am aware that Jon Voight (on the left in this poster) appears to completely tower over Dustin Hoffman, but Hoffman plays a man with a limp and you can tell if you check out his right ankle.  Here is some fun trivia about Dustin Hoffman's performance in the movie;

  • Dustin Hoffman used to keep pebbles in his shoe to ensure his limp would be consistent from shot to shot
  • Before Dustin Hoffman auditioned for this film, he knew that his all-American image could easily cost him the job. To prove he could do it, he asked the auditioning film executive to meet him on a street corner in Manhattan, and in the meantime, dressed himself in filthy rags. The executive arrived at the appointed corner and waited, barely noticing the "beggar" less than ten feet away who was accosting people for spare change. At last, the beggar walked up to him and revealed his true identity.
  • In one particular scene, Ratso and Joe get into an argument over cowboys. Ratso states that "Cowboys are fags!" Joe's response is "John Wayne is a cowboy! Are you calling John Wayne a fag?" Coincidentally, Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight were nominated for the Best Actor Oscar for their roles as Ratso and Joe, respectively. They lost out - to John Wayne for his role in True Grit.

Two things out of the gate; Jon Voight is soooo young, and Dustin Hoffman has always looked old.  Case and point with just how young Jon Voight looks in this movie;

Not so young.

So very young.

It was almost like when I was watching Nicole Kidman in The Hours, I had to do a double take on the cast list to verify it was actually Voight that my eyes were gazing upon.  I mean, he wasn't hard on the eyes... by any means... annnnnnd moving on.... (sorry boys)

In short Jon Voight plays young stud Joe Buck.  Joe Buck lives in Texas and works as a dishwasher.  He decides to quit his job, pack up and move to the Big Apple where he plans to use his "manly talents" as a hustler.  He ends up befriending Ratso (Dustin Hoffman), who is a man with many.....issues.. to say the least.  He is not only crippled, but his health is ailing as he suffers from tuberculosis.Which would explain the limp... so maybe he's not crippled he just has tuberculosis which causes his limp... moving right along now shall we?

Apparently hustling (errday I'm shufflin') wasn't all it was cracked up to be and Jon Voight falls into a world of debt and misfortune.  Rico Rizzo, "Ratso" (Dustin Hoffman) takes Joe into his condemned apartment so they can both rely on each other to survive.  And from there the movie takes off as they struggle to make ends meet, barely scrapping by.  Joe finally lands his first regular customer but Ratso becomes very ill, so Joe buys two bus tickets to Miami to fulfill Ratso's life dream.  On their journey to Miami, Ratso dies in the seat next to him.  The movie ends with Joe staring out the bus window, arm around Ratso and Palm trees passing them by.

There is so much more to this movie than this chopped up terrible nut shell that I have put it in.  From a psychological standpoint it is very intriguing.  Joe Buck goes to a party and smoke a joint, which he naively thinks is a cigarette, then mixes it with some coke.  He ends up having vivid flashbacks of his past, where him and his girlfriend at the time are raped by a local group of boys who are jealous that she chose Joe over them.

The entire film revolves around homophobia and the current state of society.  To put it simply; Drugs, Sex and Rock n' Roll.  In my opinion it was rated 'X' originally not because of the sexual content (though fairly graphic, but seldom) but because of the portrayal of society at the time.  I believe that people were trying to hide from the fact that the younger generations were becoming more "liberal" and experimental.  The current generation did not want to confront homosexuality or face the truth about drug addictions that was becoming more prevalent.  The same kind of thing happened to Requiem for a Dream when it first came out. (Which is an absolutely mind wrenching movie that you should see if you haven't yet.  But I warn you that the ending scene is VERY difficult to watch...)   People wanted to hide from the truth, they wanted to shelter themselves from reality so Requiem for a Dream did not get very positive reviews when it first came out.

The most moving aspect of the movie is very simple; the relationship between Joe Buck and Ratso.  Two strangers that end up meeting by chance. Ratso takes the Cowboy under his wing, lets him live in his apartment and they end up supporting each other, becoming best friends in the process.  A true story of camaraderie and the human nature of friendships.

Until next time, thank you Academy #76  

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