Midnight Cowboy

Starring Dustin Hoffman, John Voight and Sylvia Miles
Screenplay by Waldo Salt based upon the novel by James Leo Herlihy
Directed by John Schlesinger
Production year 1969
Running time 113 minutes

Still the only X-rated film to have won the Academy Award for Best Picture this iconic tale of two drifters in late 60s New York was the American debut of British director John Schlesinger. Schlesinger made his name with two gritty Northern dramas in the early 1960s - a Kind Of Loving and Billy Liar. He followed these with Darling, set in 'Swinging London', and Far From The Madding Crowd, a lavish adaptation of Thomas Hardy. After Midnight Cowboy his cinema career was somewhat patchy and largely based in the US - with the outstanding thriller Marathon Man being a high point in 1976. He continued to work in Britain on  TV projects such as the 1983 Guy Burgess spy drama An Englishman Abroad as well as numerous theatre and opera productions.

The screenwriter of Midnight Cowboy was Waldo Salt - one of the writers notoriously
blacklisted by Hollywood in the 1950s during the Communist witch hunts. Salt's other pictures include the excellent 1970s police story Serpico and the Oscar-winning Vietnam veteran drama Coming Home.
Dustin Hoffman and John Voight both won BAFTAs for their work on this film. Voight is outstanding as the naive young Texan but never really hit these heights again while Hoffman's Ratso Rizzo is one of the greatest low life creations in all of cinema.

One interesting piece of trivia - Harry Nilsson's Everybody's Talkin' - the famous theme song of Midnight Cowboy, is now inextricably linked with the film and underscores the entire first act. However the ballad that was originally commissioned was Bob Dylan's Lay Lady Lay. When Dylan failed to deliver the finished recording in time Schlesinger picked out Everybody's Talkin' and the rest is history...