- May 22, 1999
- Real Name
It was 1969, and I had made one of my frequent trips into the city from Westchester, by passenger train, with a friend. We were both 19, and could legally go to an X-rated movie, which MIDNIGHT COWBOY was at that time (it has since been re-rated "R," with no cuts). Upon leaving the theater, I felt odd and empty. We were standing within easy walking distance of some of the locales used for shooting the film, and thoughts about the squalor that so many people lived through on a daily basis in that and every other American city (let along the rest of the world) seemed to hit me in a tangible way for the first time. I never walked through NYC as blithely again - somewhere behind so many of those windows and at the end of so many alleys and within the rubble of so many condemned tenements were people just like (or even worst off than) Ratso Rizzo. For me, the movie altered my perspective. It deflated me, so I would certainly not call it a feel-good movie - but also it did enlightened me. The sixties were a time when you could actually leave a movie feeling something - not merely that you had been assaulted by explosions and left exhausted by incompetent quick cutting and vacuous dialog, but that you had gained insight into something you hadn't given much thought to before. And, on top of the cruel aspect of poverty, MIDNIGHT COWBOY was a beautifully-made love story and one about loyalty and about courage. TCM is running the movie as I type this, in widescreen and completely unedited, and it brought back a few of the emotions I so strongly felt that afternoon. I wish more films made for current audiences aspired to these lofty heights, and that mass audiences would still be open to the challenges they assert.