In New York in the 70s, the character of Joe Buck played by Jon Voight, a Texan cowboy in search of fortune as a prostitute, is the personification of the naïve cowboy, characterized by the desire to be fulfilled but by the lack of rationality and common sense that make it incapable of building a future.
A typical country boy who found himself in a big city with values, customs and people completely different from those he grew up with, Joe Buck was initially unable to integrate into this new reality, it will be with the passage of time, with the experiences he will have, but above all thanks to the meeting with Enrico Rizzo, that his life will undergo a change.
Enrico Rizzo is a lame Italian-American who initially tries to fool Joe, but who later manages to forge a bond with him, so much so that he becomes his manager, friend and roommate. The character of Rizzo represents the contemporary New York, which does not correspond to the idealistic image that initially Joe Buck had of the city, but which instead reflects the problems of the metropolis and American society of that period; such as crime, poverty, prostitution and degradation. However, their relationship does not change the fact that they both fail to realise their ‘dreams’; Joe Buck to become a successful prostitute that allows him to support himself, Enrico Rizzo to change his life and seek his fortune as Joe’s manager in Miami. In fact, Enrico will die along the way to reach Miami and Joe will leave his cowboy clothes, thus renouncing his past identity and finally identifying himself with the reality of New York, which he could not do before.
Midnight Cowboy is a film that’s timeless, it’s themes will forever render it relative; loneliness, homosexuality and rape.
Midnight Cowboy was screened as part of The Filmhouse’s programme. For more on The Filmhouse’s programme click here.