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Midnight Cowboy

Review Written by: Chris Burns
Film Rating: A+

Directed by: John Schlesinger
Written by: Waldo Salt
Based on the book by: James Leo Herlihy
Produced by: Jerome Hellman
Starring: Jon Voight, Dustin Hoffman, Sylvia Miles, John McGiver, Brenda Vaccaro, Barnard Hughes, Ruth White, Jennifer Salt
Studio: United Artists

When Midnight Cowboy was first released it was an X-rated film (now rated R) which was not expected to appeal to the mass audiences, nor the critics because of its open nature. Yet, it was a huge success and managed to even grab three Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director. Not only does Midnight Cowboy remain iconic, but it also remains a fascinating and hugely influential portrayal of a sadly misguided life. The prime reason for Midnight Cowboy attracting the attention it did was probably from the wonderful casting of Dustin Hoffman as the renowned Ratso Rizzo, who after The Graduate had become a big name in the film industry.

Midnight Cowboy follows the story of a young, kind, naive and lonesome man named Joe Buck (Jon Voight) who is seeking a life that will enable him wealth. So he abandons his back-country life and treks to New York in search of glory. He thinks he has everything planned out and upon arriving in the vast city his plan to be a hustler goes array and he finds himself in poverty with the most unlikely of companions Ratso Rizzo. Joe Buck realises that with many things having been missing from his life, he soon is opened up to the harsh reality of life and what he needs to come to terms with.

Midnight Cowboy is a fascinating story, brimming with the countless, memorable occurrences showing the spiralling downfall of a life that was destined to end in sadness. The film is endlessly captivating through its use of entertainment, hysterical encounters, powerful acting, emotive narrative and the depiction of a gritty urban underclass. Midnight Cowboy is a film with so much to offer its viewers and remains a masterpiece in cinematic perfection. Few American films have remained such a giant counterpart in cinema, yet Midnight Cowboy hails brilliance and echoes flawlessness.

The acting from Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman is some of the greatest you're ever going to see. The chemistry and friendship that is shown between Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman is astoundingly tremendous. Both roles have gone down in cinematic history for being two of the finest and most hauntingly poignant roles to have ever been filmed. The characters are perfect and so is the casting. It's never difficult to understand the characters' emotions, their way of getting around their problems and how they deal with life. They're easily two of the greatest actors at the pinnacle of their incredible careers. Few performances have managed to captivate so many generations of film lovers and still provoke audiences today. The mixture of comedy, fierce anger at society and sexual confusion help to make them such meaningful and deep characters. The script is truly outstanding and works fantastically with the actors who manage to make the lines instantly quotable and motivating.

The extraordinary cinematic devices that are littered throughout the film are just another one of the elements that beg you to become involved in such a profound illustration of cinematic perfection. The glorious editing is taken to the notch and runs smoothly alongside the film; the beautiful cinematography is natural art that contrasts with the gritty and bitter lifestyles of the main protagonists. The use of music helps give the added pop-culture element to the film and the light-hearted "Everybody's Talkin'" helps represent the youthful surroundings turned to lost innocence. Midnight Cowboy studies the idea of identity. The homosexual theme that runs through the film is hinted on, yet it never really gets forced towards you and it's up for you to decide if it was just a bond of friendship between the two characters.

Enhanced with the stunning array of film-making glory, tremendous story-telling techniques, punched through a flawless script and some of the most tremendous acting you're ever going to see. Midnight Cowboy remains perfection in art and one of truly great American pictures. It has to be seen to be believed, a film of true force.

Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman in the Oscar-winning Midnight Cowboy.
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