Midnight Cowboy

Critics Consensus

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.

91%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 69

88%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 39,924
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Movie Info

A con man and a Texas hustler try to survive on the tough streets of New York.

Cast

Dustin Hoffman
as Enrico `Ratso' Rizzo
Jon Voight
as Joe Buck
John McGiver
as Mr. O'Daniel
Ruth White
as Sally Buck
Viva
as Gretel McAlbertson
Gil Rankin
as Woodsy Niles
Gary Owens
as Little Joe
T. Tom Marlow
as Little Joe
Al Scott
as Cafeteria Manager
Linda Davis
as Mother on Bus
J.T. Masters
as Old Cowhand
Arlene Reeder
as Old Lady
Bob Balaban
as Young Student
Anthony Holland
as TV Bishop
Jan Tice
as Freaked-Out Lady
Paul Benjamin
as Bartender
Peter Scalia
as Vegetable Grocer
Vito Siracusa
as Vegetable Grocer
Peter Zamaglias
as Hat-Shop Owner
Arthur Anderson
as Hotel Clerk
Tina Scala
as Laundromat Lady
Alma Felix
as Laundromat Lady
Richard Clarke
as Escort Service Man
Ann Thomas
as Frantic Lady
Gastone Rossilli
as Hansel McAlbertson
Joan Murphy
as Waitress
Al Stetson
as Bus Driver
Ultra Violet
as Party Guest
Paul Jabara
as Party Guest
William Door
as Party Guest
Cecelia Lipson
as Party Guest
Taylor Mead
as Party Guest
Paul Morrissey
as Party Guest
Paul Jasmin
as Party Guest
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Critic Reviews for Midnight Cowboy

All Critics (69) | Top Critics (15) | Fresh (63) | Rotten (6)

  • A marvel.

    Sep 12, 2019 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

    Kevin Maher

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • Schlesinger's camera discovers everywhere something rarely glimpsed in Hollywood movies - poverty.

    Sep 12, 2019 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • Some of the attitudes in Midnight Cowboy -- especially toward women -- don't wear the years well, but the performances by Hoffman and Jon Voight remain electric.

    Feb 22, 2016 | Full Review…
  • Even with every foot of grim realism and some humor, Midnight Cowboy is rather a sad picture.

    Feb 23, 2015 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • No amount of obfuscation can obscure the film's vaulting performances.

    Feb 23, 2015 | Full Review…
  • Midnight Cowboy moves beyond realism into an archetypal tale of the Big City destroying dreamers. Joe and Ratso, like Of Mice and Men's George and Lenny, are quintessential failed, lower-class, buddy-dreamers.

    Sep 2, 2014 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Midnight Cowboy

  • Feb 22, 2016
    Two losers at the very bottom rung of the American Dream have only their tenuous friendship to sustain them. Schlesinger as an Englishman and an outsider is not too impressed with America or Americans and delivers an honest and scathing denouement, but neither are we impressed with the hallucinatory flash with which he tells his tale. What remains, what sticks, is the acting of the two leads who fully invest in the characters frailties whose weaknesses amazingly leads to empathy rather than disgust.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Aug 24, 2014
    "Now, Mr. McGinty is a good man, but he's run away now with a cowboy hand (Add a certain "J" word here)! Let the midnight special shine her ever-loving light on me!" I went with "Midnight Special", rather than "Rhinestone Cowboy", partly because this dude is so well-known for his midnight specials, and largely because, well, I already referenced "Rhinestone Cowboy" for my opener for "Drugstore Cowboy". Yeah, I watched "Drugstore Cowboy" sooner than this film, but hey, that's no more awkward than an X-rated film winning Best Picture before an R-rated film, and at any rate, as gay as Gus Van Sant is, I'd imagine he wishes that he did this film, especially considering just how successful his modern cowboy, or rather, cowgirl film ended up being. Maybe it's best that John Schlesinger did this film, because he was gay and Jewish, and this film is automatically super-Jewper for co-starring Dustin Hoffmensch-I mean, Hoffman. Even though this film is not as good as "Brokeback Mountain", it does make that film less impressive as a stool-I mean, boundary-pusher, which leaves me to doubt that this film was ever shot in Texas, because even in Austin, anyone would have been hanged for even being involved in a film about a "cowboy" who is a possibly latently gay male prostitute with a Jewish friend. I'd hate for that to happen if it meant the prevention of the completion of this film, because this is some good, thoroughly awkward cinema, although it isn't exactly consistently exciting. I did have my concerns about this film getting a little slow, and through sharp writing and reasonably tight direction, this film entertains just fine, but not on the whole, for there are occasions in which the film does, in fact, dry up, with borderline dull spots that retard the momentum of an already disjointed narrative. Well, this film is not that uneven, but that just makes the uneven touches all the more glaring, once the narrative actually does become disjointed, forcing along its progression, occasionally at a clip so snappy that it is actually some form of stylization, or rather, overstylization. The style of the film is also a little inconsistent, because the film is generally grounded and traditionalist in its storytelling style, until it gets to be borderline abstract in its snappy, but surreal editing and enigmatic visuals, which range from ethereal to break-neck, and shake up the focus of the storytelling. The overstylization is rare, but they are something of a long-term issue, in that they reflect an overambition to be an aesthetic achievement, something that this mostly dramatically rewarding affair is, to a certain extent, but not to the extent that John Schlesinger wants to push things. Natural limitations to this story concept are themselves limited, as this subject matter is so distinct and so compelling, but it is intimate to the point of minimalism, with only so much dynamicity and a lot of potential for underwhelmingness. The inspiration delivered on in the telling of this film manages to drive the final product as genuinely rewarding, but this effort can't afford to fumble too much, even if it only occasionally hits moments of dryness, unevenness and overstylization. The final product may be more ambitious than it should be, and yet, that ambition leads to enough inspiration to make this drama a rewarding one which transcends its minimalism to hit big, although not effective aspects are grand. The soundtrack is anything but prominent in this film which mostly relies on clever dialogue and subtly flashy style to drive entertainment value, and when it is utilized, well, it mostly plays with Fred Neil's "Everybody's Talkin'" (Mighty good song, but you sure do get tired of it), but it does do a fine job of adding to the simple, but warm tone of this minimalist drama, at least when used just right by direction which does a lot of playing with style. I go on and on about John Schlesinger's directorial style, but it's mostly subtle, and when it really kicks up, it often shakes up the momentum of the film through unevenness and overstylization, but it's hard to not praise Schlesinger's use of Hugh A. Robertson's snappy editing, and of questionably placed, but haunting visuals which compliment the depth of this drama through aesthetic sophistication. One has to take what can be given when it comes to ameliorating this film's story, as it is minimalist in its intimacy, and therefore runs the risk of losing reward value, but this sensitive subject matter remains very respectable, in its edgy uniqueness, and in its human factor, carrying powerful themes about big city grime, homophobia and companionship that could be brought glowingly to life. The telling of this tale is certainly not glowing on the whole, but it is inspired, with screenwriter Waldo Salt delivering on a fine dialogue, tight set pieces, and nuance, while Schlesinger's style goes accompanied by a directorial thoughtfulness and biting, if relentless bleakness that, while often either a little dry or a little disturbing, is realized enough to rarely lose engagement value, often augmented with resonance. There are some enthralling moments found here and there throughout this intimate drama, but compellingness very, very rarely abates, as there is so much endearing thoughtfulness applied to the telling of this audacious affair, which, quite frankly, isn't able to save this film as engrossing on its own. I've criticized and praised the intimacy of this drama, but the best thing to come from it is its bringing Jon Voight - as a simple man in a complicated new setting - and Dustin Hoffman - as an ill con man fearing for his sorry life - to prominence, for although the leads of this film are given only so much to work with, their impeccable charismas and chemistry drive a lot of the charm of this film, and bond you with the human heart of this drama, really kept pumping by an intensity within Voight's and, of course, the show-stealing Hoffman's dramatic highlights that defines the depth of impact of this realist character study. Voight and Hoffman, or at least just Voight, carry the film, and secure the final product as genuinely rewarding, but not alone, for ambition is met enough with inspiration for the final product to transcend its natural and consequential shortcomings as an engrossing drama. Overall, dry spells retard momentum almost as much as disjointed moments in storytelling and overstylization, while ambition stresses natural shortcomings enough to threaten the reward value of the film, but on the backs of a few solid soundtrack bits, snappy stylistic highlights, audaciously intriguing subject matter, fine writing, inspired direction, and strong performances by and chemistry between Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman, "Midnight Cowboy" stands a consistently compelling, if not rather powerful portrait on how a big city and grimy lifestyle can corrupt and enlighten a simple and good man. 3/5 - Good
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Dec 20, 2013
    Hoffman and Voight are fantastic in delivering this story of life on the streets in a New York that doesn't quite have the same bite. These are individuals doomed to failure but we can't help but watch.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Nov 01, 2013
    The star of "Midnight Cowboy" may be Jon Voight, but the one that steals the show is Dustin Hoffman as Enrico "Ratso" Rizzo, who delivers one of the strongest character performances of his career. Voight is brilliant as the pie-eyed small-town cowboy moving to the big city to be a hustler, but without the rich and dark turn from Hoffman, this Oscar winning film would be lacking. Bringing in Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay at the 42nd Academy Awards, this actually became the first ever X-Rated film to take those honors. With Hoffman and Voight losing to John Wayne's iconic performance in "True Grit", Hoffman's performance had to prove a close second. With some interesting viewpoints about the late '60s and some impressive direction, especially in bringing the city of New York to life, "Midnight Cowboy" proves why it remains on many Top 100 of all-time lists. Much darker than I would have anticipated, showing the underbelly of the city, between drugs, sickness, and sex, the film earns its rating (at least for the era) and encapsulates a generation all while entertaining.
    Christopher H Super Reviewer

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