This Oscar-winning film, which features brilliant performances by Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman, brought an unusually gritty realism to the screen and offered a then-rare portrait of New York's street scene.
Joe Buck, a male prostitute from Texas, heads to Manhattan where he hopes to find plenty of wealthy women willing to pay for the services of a handsome man. When he arrives, the naive country boy befriends Ratso Rizzo, a tubercular, homeless con artist who dreams of moving to Florida. As they go about trying to get the money Ratso needs, the two men see and confront all the seediness, corruption and cruelty that flourish in the big city.
Originally rated X, this exceptional film based on James Leo Herlihy's novel centers on the relationship between a naive, small-town Texan who comes to New York to become a paid stud and his friend by default, a slimy con man. Features New York at its absolute grittiest. Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay. Academy Award Nominations: 7, including Best Actor--both Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight.
Director John Schlesinger originally wanted actor Michael Sarrazin for the "Joe Buck" role, but he was already committed to "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" It went to then-unknown Jon Voight instead, establishing the 31-year-old as a major "young" talent.
"Midnight Cowboy" was Dustin Hoffman's first film after his star-making turn in "The Graduate." To achieve that distinctive Ratso Rizzo limp, Hoffman placed pebbles in his shoes.
"Everybody's Talkin'" was featured on Harry Nilsson's 1968 album "Aerial Ballet." Nilsson's intended theme for "Cowboy" was "I Guess the Lord Must Be in New York City," written by Nilsson specifically for the film.
Film was named one of the year's 10 Best English-language films by the National Board of Review, one of the year's 10 best foreign films by Japan's Kinema Jumpo, and the best non-European film of 1970 by Denmark's Bodil awards.
Schlesinger received best foreign director of 1969-70 from two Italian awards, the Davids and the Silver Ribbons.
Hoffman was named best actor of 1969-70 by Italy's David Awards.
Voight was named Best Actor by the New York Film Critics and the National Society of Film Critics.
Voight received the Best Actor British Academy Award for both Midnight Cowboy" and "John and Mary."
A restored print of "Cowboy" was re-released to theaters in late February 1994 to commemorate the film's 25th anniversary.
"Cowboy" was the first major studio release to sport an X rating and was the first X-rated film to win the Best Picture Academy Award. It was re-rated "R" by the MPAA in 1971.
Additional cast members: Gil Rankin (as Woodsy Niles), T. Tom Marlow (Little Joe), George Epperson (Ralph), Al Scott (Cafeteria Manager), Linda Davis (Mother on the bus), J. T. Masters (Old cow-hand), Arlene Reeder (The old lady), Jonathan Kramer (Jackie), Jan Tice (Freaked-out lady), Peter Scalia (Grocer), Vito Siracus (Grocer), Peter Zamagias (Hat shop owner), Arthur Anderson (Hotel Clerk), Tina Scalia (Laundromat lady), Alma Felix (Laundromat lady), Richard Clarke (Escort service man), Ann Thomas (The frantic lady), Joan Murphy (The waitress), Al Stetson (Bus Driver), Gastone Rossilli (Hansel McAlbertson), Ultra Violet, International Velvet, William Dorr, Cecelia Lipson, and Taylor Mead.
Shot in Technicolor.
Variety listed the film's running time as 119 minutes, and gave the film an "R" rating.