Joe Buck is a wide-eyed hustler from Texas hoping to score big with wealthy New York City women; he finds a companion in Enrico “Ratso” Rizzo, an ailing swindler with a bum leg and a quixotic fantasy of escaping to Florida.
Director John Schlesinger’s film Midnight Cowboy (1969) was a major milestone – this was the first (and only) X-rated (for adult-oriented, not porno) mainstream film (later reduced to R) to be voted Best Picture, with its A-list stars.
Its adult-themed story told of a naive, swaggering, transplanted male Texan named Joe Buck (Jon Voight) who struggled in the sordid 42nd Street area of NY to become a successful hustler or gigolo. Upon his arrival in the big city, he vainly posed shirtless in front of his hotel room’s mirror, and pasted up a beefcake poster of Paul Newman from Hud and a picture of a topless woman.
His first ‘trick’ was fast-talking society girl Cass (Best Supporting Actress nominee Sylvia Miles) in a comedic sex scene in which they humorously activated channels with the TV remote control beneath their bodies – the climax came with the closeup view of the winning results of a slot machine jackpot – spewed-out coins.
The Texas stud was befriended by a limping and coughing homeless thief named Ratso Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman) and they experienced an unspoken homosexual relationship together which included frequent bickering.
Joe’s first homosexual client was a religiously fanatical and homosexual Jesus-freak Christian named Mr. O’Daniel (John McGiver) – during the encounter, Joe flashbacked to his boyhood when he was baptized in a river, and an incident when rednecks viciously assaulted him and his former girlfriend Annie (Jennifer Salt) – he was held down (and anally raped?) as his naked girlfriend was also attacked.
Another homosexual client was a bespectacled young student (Bob Balaban) in a movie theatre. While experiencing oral sex from the client, Joe had memories of kissing and making love with Annie (“You’re the only one, Joe…Kiss me, Joe, kiss me”). In another nightmare regarding Annie, he also remembered her saying – as the authorities arrived: “He’s the one. He’s the only one” – implying something more sinister.
Joe took stoned socialite Shirley (Brenda Vaccaro) to bed for his first successful heterosexual score with a paying female client ($20). At first, though, he suffered sexual inadequacy until angered when she teasingly suggested that he was gay: (“Gay, fey. Is that your problem, baby?”) – and then he performed vigorously. Afterwards by phone, she recommended his studly services to an unhappily-married female friend.
Tags: Barnard Hughes, Bob Balaban, Brenda Vaccaro, Dustin Hoffman, Free movies 1969, Georgann Johnson, Jennifer Salt, John McGiver, Jon Voight, Midnight Cowboy, Midnight Cowboy Online, Ruth White, Sylvia Miles