dir. John Schlesinger, starring Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman. based off the novel Midnight Cowboy by James Leo Herlihy.

I've probably watched this movie about six or seven times in the past year. it is my favorite movie of all time. although the film adaption is one of my favorite works of art, I also really treasure the novel the story originates from. I cannot not recommend either one enough. if you can't find Midnight Cowboy any where for viewing, I will gladly help you.

my best, honest, and most genuiene description of the movie follows,
a seemingly easy-going film starts with the introduction of Joe Buck, a cowboy (impersonator, at best) with a drive to leave the south, and head up to new york city. there is easy money made in the city, because apparently, all the men are 'fruits,' and women are desperate for tall, hypermasculine cowboy-posers. it's not as easy as he thought it'd be.

the city is dizzying, cold, and dangerous for Joe, but he survives. in a bar one night he meets Rico Rizzo, known exclusively as Ratso. after a mishap, the two begin to live together, in an abandoned apartment building Ratso knows his way around. they dream of florida, sunny beaches, and orange juice. the city contorts and bends them until they almost break, and somehow, they manage to get on that bus.


**Everybody's Talking** by Harry Nilsson

the theme of the movie, an incredibly beautiful song. every time I hear it, my heart still feels a twinge of emotion. an easy song to sing over and over and over, while you ride away far, far from home. . .

Banking off of the northeast winds
Sailing on a summer breeze
And skipping over the ocean like a stone
**Joe Buck Rides Again** by John Barry

a beautiful instrumental piece that captures of the spirit of the film. strong like an evening breeze and incredibly melancholic, the part that makes my brain act up the most is around 2:48, it reminds me of the high of joe and ratso's relationship, hopeful and full of perserverance

**Midnight Cowboy** by John Barry

oh my god does this song permeate my soul. this song is the definition of loneliness and ache. I love listening to this on its own, just watching the cars drive down the main road near my apartment. this song is the embodiment of the entire film, of joe buck buck's character, and of what is means to leave everything you were once familiar with to try and find a life less lonely

**Old Man Willow** by Elephant's Memory

this one of the favorite songs and one of my favorite scenes. it is the quintessential 'drug' song in every film where there's a funky party going on. listening to this song while watching the movie whilst high as fuck is always an experience. I always envision ratso's lost and angry scowl juxtapositioned next to joe's dopey smile as he's high on marijuana and probably lsd

People don't know why he sits there and cries
They think he's got a secret but they don't realize
**Florida Fantasy** by John Barry

such a silly-sounding song set to ratso's fantasy of a better life with joe buck in florida. the lightheartedness of the song crushes you when you realize the dire reality of ratso's desire for a life outside of living in extreme poverty in cold new york city. whenever I hear this song is makes me laugh, I can see them dancing together to keep warmth

**Science Fiction** by John Barry

I believe this is the last instrumental piece of the movie (not counting previous ones that were played later on at the very end) and one of the most haunting. it plays during a very painful scene that you have to endure to see our protagonists move forward with their goals of a sweeter life. it is foreshadowing an absolutely terrible fate, and it makes my eyes swell up with tears

these were the songs that I actually remember from the film, and have actual feelings and memories attached to them. there a few more songs, but I either never really remember them, or they're just okay in my eyes, and I don't really have much to say about them. the soundtrack of midnight cowboy still stands of one of my favorites ever, and in my opinion, is an incredibly strong soundtrack backing the movie with a strong foundation, first establishing the piercing sense of loneliness that hangs through the entire film.

soundtracks in general are always one of my favorite parts of a film, they're always the one piece of the puzzle that makes or breaks the entire theme, or even structure, of a story.


I finally read Herlihy's Midnight Cowboy around September of 2020, whilst staying at my girlfriend's mom's friend's place in cape cod (fancy, I know right!) and I basically ripped right through it in two days, lying in the shade, while swinging in a netted hammock.

I love both the film and the novel respectively, and I think that each one stands strongly on its own. however, I did not expect to enjoy the book as much as the movie, but I was, obviously, wrong. it may actually be one of my favorite books, ever. big surprise!

the novel is essentially split into two parts, joe buck's life before new york city, and joe buck in new york city. I think, if there is a third part, it's also split by when joe buck meets ratso. the book delves much deeper into joe buck's past than the film, but that is expected. reading the novel did give me another understanding of joe buck's character, and just how fucking lonely this cowboy was. the movie does do a great job of taking what it needed to reference joe's past, which wasn't much compared to the book, but still established who he was pretty firmly. I know I say lonely a lot when talking about midnight cowboy, but you have to understand, it exists as a work that revolves around what it means to be alone.

some notes I wrote whilst in Cape Cod:


(shakes his head)
Kee-rist, you really know the
ropes. Wish to hell I bumped into
you before. I'm Joe Buck from Texas
and I'm gonna buy you a drink, what
do you say to that?

Enrico Rizzo from
the Bronx. Don't
mind if I do.

(slaps bar)
Same all around! For my friend,

joe and ratso meet at a bar. ratso calls the green-shirt boy a faggot, and on begins the deterioration of the sublety of one of the film's strongest themes, repressed sexuality. joe trusts ratso right away, and ratso will be the one person that loves joe the most, the most love in this sad cowboy's whole life. however, their relationship does not start off as sweet.

(digs in wallet)
Ten, ten -- I got a twenty -- take

Oh hell, forget it.

Now take it. Go on.
(gives it to him)
Listen, where can I reach you?
Cause I'm gonna make this right
with you soon's I get me set up...

Forget it.

I mean, dammit, where you live?

Ratso leans on the DOWN as the cage
grinds slowly down into
view and stops.

Sherry-Netherlands Hotel. Now get
your ass in there. He's waiting!

ratso takes advantage of joe by promising that he'll help him get into the business of being a 'cowboy hustler,' leading joe to the apartment of the so-called boss. the man he leads joe to is a religious fanatic that insists on praying away 'joe's sins,' saying, 'I've met boys like you. . .' insinuating that he thought joe was gay. unfortunately, more repressed sexuality shtick going on here.

Oh, I ain't gonna hit you, I'm
gonna strangle you to death...

The cigarette in Ratso's mouth burns into his lip. He jerks
spasmodically, choking on smoke as he rips skin away with the
butt and drops it in his coffee cup.

... only first I'm gonna turn you
upside down and shake you out right
here and now.

joe finds ratso in a diner, after a few rough, rough days. he demands ratso for his money back, but quickly realized ratso has nothing to give him. out of anger (which is more intricately detailed in the novel) he has to leave the diner before he does something he regrets. ratso ends up following him anyways, offering him a place to stay, because lonely recognizes lonely. also he knows joe is homeless.

You don't seem like no fag...

What's that supposed to mean?

Joe's eyes close, his voice continuing out of half-sleep.

Want me to stay here, y'after something. What y'after?

I should've noted that although I'm using film shots, I'm following waldo salt's original script. it is pretty much the same, except the repressed (homo)sexuality theme is much less subtle. take for instance, the lines above. this is alluded to in the film. joe buck, after questioning ratso's intentions, falls asleep murmuring his name. this is after ratso tells him his actual name is 'rico.'

Not bad -- for a cowboy -- you're
okay, you're okay.

What I'm
gonna do, I'm gonna make a
cowboy outta you, kid. How about
that? Build you up a little, teach
you couple little tricks'n turn
y'out to stud, Rat-stuff.

Joe slaps his hat on Ratso's head, tilts it, hooks Ratso's
thumbs in his jeans and shoves a cigarette into the corner of
Ratso's mouth. Ratso laughs till he chokes -- for one
instant, self-consciously, mimicking Joe -- then removes the
hat and reaches for his threadbare black raincoat.

Okay, you got yourself one
handsome, sweet-smelling cowboy,
strut your stuff...

okay, again, this is not an actual filmed scene in the movie, but it's in same time as the shot above. basically, joe and ratso are starting to really depend on each other to survive. from stealing food, finding ways to get clean laundry, and just keeping each other company. it's obvious that they're both taking a liking to one another. the script excerpt from above really gets my gears grinding. it's a perfect example of how their relationship functioned, at the highest point of its existence. also, there a lot of unpack in the excerpt, from cowboy, sweet-smelling cowboy to hooking thumbs in jeans and shoving a cigarette into your (only, closest) friend's mouth.

... Ratso simply himself, dressed as he is,
sitting on the beach, at peace in the sun...
... the same identical picture with
Joe sitting beside Ratso.

this scene is one of my favorites in the whole film. it's the one with this theme. whilst joe is trying to pass himself off as a professional escort for rich women, ratso watches from the outside, observing his cowboy. at the prospect of joe being sucessful and earning them money, he imagines their life together in florida. strangely enough, I always note that in this fantasy sequence, neither joe or ratso are ever pictured romatically with women. old women wave down at them because they love joe, and that's how they get their money. ratso runs on the beach (he can't run in reality, he has a bad leg) alongside joe, they run alongside the sunset on the other side of the neverending, glittering ocean. his better life is one with joe.

Through the window -- Joe and Ratso watch the pawnbroker
examine Joe's radio, "Be healthier, wealthier, life can be
fine, when you drink Frozen" -- Sunshine is clicked off by
the pawnbroker.

the winter in new york city just gets more brutal. they live in a building with no heat, and they barely have money for food. ratso has a bad case of pnuemonia. they have to pawn off joe's radio, one of them most important items he has held unto since coming to the city. he has given up the one thing that has brought him comfort in an unfamilar, dangerous place, that has really brutalized him. all to make sure he can keep ratso, and himself, afloat. the way ratso walks out of the pawn shop in a rushed manner goes to show that he's uncomfortable by joe's sacrifice, but he has to accept it. he has to accept his comfort.

Joe glances down to see himself
flanked by Ratso and Shirley.

You really want to do business?

Who's he? Oh God! Don't tell me you
two are a couple -- ?

The flower girl, hypnotically dazed,
accepts a broom dipped in black paint
and smears a huge X across LOVE. Joe laughs.

Why are you laughing, Joe?

Hansel holds a microphone toward Joe, who shrugs,
grinning at Ratso and Shirley.
Gretel's camera moves down Joe's body.

Are you for real, Joe?

Well, I ain't a f'real cowboy,
but I'm one hell of a stud!

Shirley glances at Ratso, who nods, whispering in her ear.

A very expensive stud. And I happen
to be his manager.

joe gets invited to a party by a pair of photographers who spot him (with ratso) in a dinner. his cowboy get-up amuses them. joe decides to go, and ends up in an argument with ratso, who feels like joe wants him away to attend this 'fancy' party on his own. joe says he doesn't feel that way at all, and 'doesn't go anywhere without his buddy.' they head up to the party's location, and before heading up the stairs, joe notices that ratso's sickness is only worsening, which can be seen in the image I have up by the middle of the page. the party is also another scene I really love, which has this song overlayed on top of it. joe meets shirley, who is instantly attracted to him. joe is high, on at least one drug, and ratso follows him around, scowling, upset, and probably overwhelmed by the whole scene. but he notices shirley, and sees her as a way to make them both some money. there are a lot of moments in this particular sequence where joe is alluded to being gay, joe and ratso are mistaken for a couple, and just a general sense of the questioning of joe and ratso's respective identities. what is real, and what is just for show?

Thanks, Joe.

Shee-it, you know, I got this thing
all figured out, Ratso. I mean
Rico. When we get to Miami, what
I'll do, I'll go to work. I gotta
do that, 'cause see, I ain't no
kind of a hustler. I ain't even any
goddam good as a bum. I'm a
nothing, that's what I am. So
reckon I'd better go to work and
get me a goddam job. Okay?

Joe glances at Ratso, but there is no response.

joe's fling with shirley goes well, as he sees her as a potential regular client. (he can only get hard while having sex with her after she prods him about being gay.) but ratso is getting worse, and worse, and not even the $20 joe made can buy enough cough medicine. ratso refuses to go to hopstial, they need to make it to florida, out of the cold new york winter. joe agrees, and tries to go back to shirley, but she's busy until next week. they don't have that long, they need to leave tonight. joe has a run-in with a closeted business man who won't shut up, and it ends with joe (open-ended) killing him. they have enough money to finally leave. ratso even notices the blood on joe's coat, who tells him it's nothing (he had to do it.) joe is excited for their new life in florida, a stable life he can finally have for himself. and he finally has someone he can trust. ratso dies a few miles from their destination, and joe is left alone, once again.


Both boys looked at him with considerable respect. And Joe Buck simply shook his head back and forth slowly, magnificently, suggesting an immediately cessation of all hostilites.
Rizzo said, "That's okay, Joe, I'm used to these type's picking on me, these sewers are full of 'em."
"Excuse me," said the farmer-looking boy, addressing himself with great politeness to the cowboy. "May I ask one thing?"
Joe lowered his eyelids in a slow, strong assent.
"It's just this: If you sit over here, and he,"--pointing at Rizzo--"sits way over there, how's he going to get his hand in your pocket? Oh, well," he shrugged, dismissing the subject. "I'm sure he's got that all figured out." He turned to Rizzo. "G'night sweets."
(page 128)

"Now the Beatitudes is very clear," said Mr. O'Daniel, looking at the ceiling and beginning to recite: "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are they that mourn. . .'"
I wonder, Joe thought, if maybe he wouldn't appreciate if I said a little something to bring his mind back to business, poor old fella. . .
"Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. There!" said Mr. O'Daniel, proceeding like a man who has already proved his point and can now afford magnanimity: "Did you hear anything in there about the lonesome? Even one word? Oh, you heard the poor in spirit, the meek, the merciful, and you heard about them that do hunger after righteousness. Sure you did. But." He learned forward on the edge of the bed, elbows resting on his knees, fingers woven togeether in a tense snarl of thick X's, eyes aflamed with confusion, looking at Joe. "You didn't hear a purr, not a purrrrrrrr! about the lonesome. And you know why? 'Cause they's no Beatitude for the lonesome. The Book don't say they are blessed. Not once!"
(page 137-138)

She opened a fist and showed him a big brown capsule. ". . .This, if you want it." Reading the question in his face, she said, "It's a bomber--good for about four hours."
Joe looked at the capsule, and then at the girl, smiling to cover his ignorance and wondering what to do.
She frowned slightly. "Well, take it," she said, her tone somewhere between a command and a dare.
(page 188)

"Come on with Florida already. Cut the crap." Ratso frowned and searched Joe's face for some sign of sense.
Joe said, "I been figuring main thing we break our ass for here is keep warm. Right? What you're doing now, you're shivering, see? Second main thing is food. Right again, right? Well, in Florida it's a matter of coconuts and sunshine and all that, and you don't break your ass at all. Use y'head, Ratso, you know them things, we talked about all this shee-it plenty of times, did you forget?"

(page 208)

Joe went through his plans in his mind, and then once again, and still a third time until he was certain he had done everything there was to do up to this moment. And then he did something he'd always want to do from the very beginning, from the very first night he'd met Ratso at Everett's Bar on Broadway. He put his arm around him to hold him for a while, for these last few miles anyway. He knew this comforting wasn't doing Ratso any good. It was for himself. Because of course he was scared now, scared to death. (page 254)

Joe pulls out his shirttail,
grabs Ratso by the neck and rubs
his head dry.

Take the bus to florida.