Friday, April 6, 2012
Such is the case with Joe Buck (Jon Voight) in John Schlesinger's Midnight Cowboy. He sees a fast track to easy money if he moves to New York City. (And not on Wall Street.) He learns early on that the way to the fast track has a few speed bumps.
Enter "Ratso" Rizzo, the definition of scumbag. Dustin Hoffman's performance of Rizzo gives the film a glimpse of dashed hopes. Rizzo probably had aspirations within his own city, but alas that didn't happen. Unlike Hoffman's star making role in The Graduate, Rizzo has goals for the future; he just doesn't know how to get to them.
Schlesinger captures New York City in an unflattering light, much in the same way Alexander Mackendrick did twelve years earlier with Sweet Smell of Success. He shows the city as a sign of promise to outsiders straining to make a name for themselves. It's contact with its residents that make the city what it is; the last place you want to associate yourself with.
Midnight Cowboy is damn good, though its age can be seen in spots. Voight and Hoffman make the film what it is, which is a portrait of an era full of confusion and uncertainty.
My Rating: ****1/2