Some of the sequences are unforgettable. With Joe desperate for money, and with no place to go, he picks up a young homosexual teenager and they go to a cinema. The pained expression on Voight's face during that film as the boy holds him is heartbreaking. When the boy reveals he has no money for the favors, Joe threatens to steal his watch, but ultimately lets him go. Distraught, Joe sleeps in the theatre. The Warhol-esque club party that Joe is invited to is also a highlight. Greeted admiringly Joe sweeps the party looking at the women. He unknowingly puffs on a joint and then takes an ecstasy pill, sending him into a hallucinogenic state. He leaves with a woman, where he is unable to perform, likely due to the drugs. When she teases him about being gay, he angrily pushes her onto the bed and they have wild, passionate sex. The next morning, she calls a friend and arranges another date for Joe, finally starting the career he has struggled with for so long. But his friendship with Ratso and his swift requirement of medical treatment force Joe to abandon his career, and the pair head for Florida at the conclusion of the film. On the way, Joe disposes of his costume and buy both of them some Hawaiian themed shirts. But nearing Miami, Ratso dies of his illness, and the film ends with Joe holding him compassionately staring out the window at the passing palm trees. It is an unforgettable conclusion and the end of a very sad tale of two men living at the margins of society filled with the hope of living their dreams, which are ultimately abolished due to societal shunning and it becomes a struggle for them to survive.
Midnight Cowboy presents a gritty underbelly of New York City. Ratso's slum dwelling, which has his own private entrance (a broken wire fence), doesn't have a refrigerator and their beds are mattresses on the floor and dirty blankets. Joe and Ratso are pushed to the limits to survive. It also offers an insight to 60's popular culture at the party and some brief references to homophobia and it's reception in society. But for a late 1960's film, the sexual and drug content is very explicit, and it is never restricted by censorship, which makes it a very daring achievement. Fueled by an excellent adapted screenplay, fine direction, impressive montage editing and a pair of moving performances, Midnight Cowboy is captivating, groundbreaking cinema.
Overall: 4 1/2 Stars