October 5, 2006

Midnight Cowboy locations

Midnight Cowboy won Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director; it is the only X-rated film to win an Oscar in any category. Both Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight were nominated for Best Actor awards.

The movie opens with Joe Buck (Voight) leaving Texas for New York City (New York City??) to find fame and fortune as a "hustler." With the poignant "Everybody's Talkin'" playing as the main theme, the opening credits sequence is a montage of locations in and around Sweetwater and Big Spring, Texas, as Joe Buck heads for, and eventually boards and leaves on, the bus to NYC.

Makes you wonder if The Alamo was responsible for that theater shutting down. Incidentally, the 1969 Oscars, where Midnight Cowboy beat True Grit (another John Wayne film) for Best Picture, is sometimes considered to be the transitional moment when "old" Hollywood gave way to the "new."

Joe Buck's Texas life flashes before his eyes...

"Crazy Anne loves Joe Buck"

After a long night on the bus, the Empire State Building beckons.

the view from Joe Buck's room (the Claridge Hotel)

Joe Buck's first day on the streets as a "hustler":

the view from Sylvia Miles' actual penthouse

Joe Buck is too pure at heart to be an effective "hustler," so lucky for him, "Ratso" Rizzo (Hoffman) offers to be his "manager."

Unless I'm mistaken, I believe this was a "planned accident." In other words, it was reshot until the "right" cab came into the scene:

Ratso scams and steals from Joe Buck, and Buck is back on his own, walking a pre-Giuliani, pre-Disney Times Square with John Barry's haunting "Midnight Cowboy" (Grammy Award for best Instrumental Theme) providing the soundtrack:

The next morning, Buck spots Ratso again through the window of a streetside cafe - his overjoyed look of recognition quickly becomes one of vengeful hate, and he demands justice. Ratso invites Joe to share the filthy condemned, East Village tenement building where he lives.

As he watches Joe enter the lobby of a hotel from across the street in order to attempt yet another "hustle," Ratso daydreams of the good life in Florida.

Ultimately, the ailing Ratso collapses (due to pneumonia), and is unable to walk at all, as winter sets in.
Joe beats and robs a customer to raise the money to take them to Florida (the "promised land"), where Ratso can hopefully recover in the warm weather and Joe can find honest work.
They leave on a southbound bus, with Joe discarding his cowboy clothes enroute...

...but Ratso dies as they approach Miami. Joe is alone once more, and wary of the future.

I found this by Googling the title. It's origin is a now defunct Blogspot blog.


Anonymous said...

Cool movie,familar with Big Spring makes it even cooler.

Anonymous said...

Familiar with Big Spring also.

Mike Walters said...

I think I saw the movie twice in theaters, I know I saw it once in a drive-in theater. I think it was the summer of 1970. I was 19 at the time. I might have seen it before then in an indoor theater but I do not specifically recall. It ranks as one of my favorite movies. Seeing the still frames from the movie and looking at the American small town landscape of that time makes me actually physically ache in a bittersweet sort of way. I think it is a combination of pleasant sentimentality and a sadness from the evidence of the passing of time... an old, long-gone motel with a '59 Ford passing by on the highway on a sunny day.

Unknown said...

I saw the original movie first time in 1975 at 22 years old and thought it as "good" viewing and then again at 66 years and thought it was SUPERB because I had grown so much! Jon Voight's best acting performance. Tremendous Nostalgia feeling of a by gone era and scenery of Big Spring Texas.