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Midnight Cowboy (1969)

tomatometer

89

Average Rating: 8.3/10
Reviews Counted: 55
Fresh: 49 | Rotten: 6

John Schlesinger's gritty, unrelentingly bleak look at the seedy underbelly of urban American life is undeniably disturbing, but Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight's performances make it difficult to turn away.

75

Average Rating: 6.5/10
Critic Reviews: 8
Fresh: 6 | Rotten: 2

John Schlesinger's gritty, unrelentingly bleak look at the seedy underbelly of urban American life is undeniably disturbing, but Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight's performances make it difficult to turn away.

audience

88

liked it
Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 38,595

My Rating

Movie Info

Based on a James Leo Herlihy novel, British director John Schlesinger's first American film dramatized the small hopes, dashed dreams, and unlikely friendship of two late '60s lost souls. Dreaming of an easy life as a fantasy cowboy stud, cheerful Texas rube Joe Buck (Jon Voight) heads to New York City to be a gigolo, but he quickly discovers that hustling isn't what he thought it would be after he winds up paying his first trick (Sylvia Miles). He gets swindled by gimpy tubercular grifter Rico

R,

Drama, Classics

Jan 1, 2000

United Artists - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (55) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (49) | Rotten (6) | DVD (15)

I cannot recall a more marvelous pair of acting performances in any one film.

January 18, 2013 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Midnight Cowboy's peep-show vision of Manhattan lowlife may no longer be shocking, but what is shocking, in 1994, is to see a major studio film linger this lovingly on characters who have nothing to offer the audience but their own lost souls.

September 7, 2011 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In this film the scenery is lovely and only the human race is vile.

January 30, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The acting, showy and instinctual, is most of the movie; the visual style is too forced and chicly distended to let the drama acquire much natural life of its own.

December 13, 2006 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader | Comments (9)
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Outrageously overrated at the cynical end of the Swinging Sixties.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out | Comments (2)
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

What has happened to Midnight Cowboy is that we've done our own editing job on it. We've forgotten the excesses and the detours, and remembered the purity of the central characters and the Voight and Hoffman performances.

October 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times | Comments (4)
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

We can identify with them without false sentimentality and it is impossible not to do so.

January 13, 2014 Full Review Source: Guardian [UK]
Guardian [UK]

[A] tawdry, strident yet deeply affecting tale.

January 13, 2014 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

Strip away everything else and it's the performances that make Midnight Cowboy what it is.

February 12, 2013 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

The attempt to wring tender laughter from such a topic strikes me as being itself a kind of commercialized vice.

February 12, 2013 Full Review Source: The Nation
The Nation

"Midnight Cowboy" is an exquisite time capsule. The film is filled with dark social and political commentary. Only through his problematic friendship with Ratzo can Buck reclaim his humanity.

December 9, 2011 Full Review Source: ColeSmithey.com | Comment (1)
ColeSmithey.com

Superb performances and a compelling script have made this film a strange mix of Oscar-winner and Cult Classic.

February 20, 2008 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

The movie is locked into a sixties stylistic approach that can feel dated, but Hoffman's performance can prevent one from ever tiring of the film.

January 30, 2008

An impressive and enduring evocation of time and place, this is a moving low-life drama built around Oscar-winning writing and performances.

January 30, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

Talented Englishman Schlesinger had an unerring eye for capturing the grimy reality of New York, even if his directorial style is more jittery than is really necessary.

December 13, 2006 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Great performances from Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman cap this bravest Academy Awards Best Picture choice in history.

December 2, 2006 Full Review Source: Cinema Sight
Cinema Sight

A film you won't soon forget

March 11, 2006
Moviehole

It only takes a movie like Midnight Cowboy to point out the limitations of a rating system: How can a measly four stars convey the magnificence of this acknowledged classic?

March 10, 2006 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

Sometimes a time capsule never dates.

February 19, 2006 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

Schlesinger's frenzied style and visual pyrotechnics (New Wave influence) are less impressive than the characters and the central friendship between Joe Buck and Ratso, splendidly played by Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman.

December 14, 2005
EmanuelLevy.Com

Drove its spurs into the bucking bronco of 1970s cinema.

August 12, 2005 Full Review Source: Arizona Daily Star
Arizona Daily Star

Audience Reviews for Midnight Cowboy

With the historic implications, I believed this would be a film concerning sexual revolution in its purest form. Instead of romanticizing the role of prostitution, it directly shines a light on the naive nature of wandering youth, the value of education, the role of a flawed childhood on workers in the sex industry, and poverty in what was modern day New York. Complete with interspersed flashbacks to Joe's time in Texas (but leaving much to be figured out by the watcher) and scenes between johns and the women he unsuccessfully bedded, this is an art house film years before its time. The use of graphic material was essential, as it helped weave in the bold emotions of Joe Buck and his compatriot, Ratso Rizzo. The two become dependent on one another, their dreams of Miami, or of being a kept man in New York City, twined together and yet crumbling around their feet.Poignant, and painful to watch, this is more than simple exploitation. It centers on what desires people have, and how they are fulfilled.
April 14, 2011
FrizzDrop

Super Reviewer

A fantastic movie that really solidified the excellence of Dustin Hoffman. Even if you don't care for the story, Hoffman's performance alone is worth revisiting this film over and over and over again.
February 28, 2011
axadntpron
Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

This won Best Picture and Best Director for John Schlesinger in 1969. Interestingly, Both Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight were nominated for Best Actor. Hey, two out of five nomination slots ain't bad -- although I'm glad that doesn't happen often. Unfortunately, they were up against John Wayne for his starring role in True Grit, and the rest, as they say, is history. Sylvia Miles as Cass was also nominated -- for Best Supporting Actress -- but Goldie Hawn took home the trophy for her work in Cactus Flower. Much as I love Hawn, if you read my recent comment about Catherine Burns in Last Summer, you'll know that I think Burns should have come out on top. Was this THE best film of 1969? I don't know. If I'd had a vote, I'd have to say . . . that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is quite a film; I can watch it over and over again. It's great entertainment. MIdnight Cowboy on the other hand is one tough watch to handle. I really have to be in the right frame of mind to take the mental beating it hands out. Maybe that does make it better? Who knows . . .
February 15, 2011
binky013

Super Reviewer

    1. Joe Buck: You know what you can do with them dishes. And if you ain't man enough to do it for yourself, I'd be happy to oblige. I really would.
    – Submitted by G Thomas B (12 months ago)
    1. Enrico "Ratso" Rizzo: I'm walking here! I'm walking here!
    – Submitted by Dutch E (13 months ago)
    1. Enrico "Ratso" Rizzo: The two natural items to sustain life are sunlight and coconut milk. Did you know that?
    – Submitted by Simon D (14 months ago)
    1. Enrico "Ratso" Rizzo: You know, in my own place, my name ain't Ratso. I mean, it just so happens that in my own place my name is Enrico Salvatore Rizzo.
    2. Joe Buck: Well, I can't say all that.
    3. Enrico "Ratso" Rizzo: Rico, then.
    – Submitted by Adam O (15 months ago)
    1. Joe Buck: [wearing glasses] Guess who I am?
    2. Enrico "Ratso" Rizzo: Who?
    3. Joe Buck: [takes off glasses and laughs] It's me!
    – Submitted by David E (15 months ago)
    1. Party Guest: [to Ratso] I'm just gonna lick the sweat off of you.
    2. Enrico "Ratso" Rizzo: JUST GET YOUR HANDS OFF OF ME!
    3. Party Guest: WELL, YOU LOOK HOT!
    – Submitted by David E (15 months ago)
View all quotes (15)

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Foreign Titles

  • Asphalt Cowboy (DE)
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