Jul 052018
 

Midnight Cowboy for me wasn’t entirely the classic in my eyes, yet still is understandable for its cultural impact and propelled by two incredible performances by Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight, both equally deserving of their Best Actor Academy Award nominations.

 

 

Midnight Cowboy
(1969)

Genre(s): Drama
Criterion Collection | R – 113 min. – $39.95 | May 29, 2018

Date Published: 07/06/2018 | Author: The Movieman


MOVIE INFO:
Directed by: John Schlesinger
Writer(s): James Leo Herlihy (novel); Waldo Salt (screenplay)
Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Jon Voight, Brenda Vaccaro, John McGiver, Ruth White
DISC INFO:
Features: Commentary, Featurettes, Interviews, Trailer
Digital Copy: No
Formats Included: Blu-ray
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (PCM 1.0), English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.85
Subtitles: English SDH
Disc Size: 46.3 GB
Codecs: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A

The Criterion Collection provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.


THE MOVIE — 4.0/5


Plot Synopsis: Convinced of his irresistible appeal to women, Texas dishwasher Joe Buck (JON VOIGHT) quits his job and heads for New York City, thinking he’ll latch on to some rich dowager. New York, however, is not as hospitable as he imagined, and Joe soon finds himself living in an abandoned building with a Dickensian layabout named Enrico “Ratso” Rizzo (DUSTIN HOFFMAN). The two form a rough alliance, and together they kick-start Joe’s hustling career just as Ratso’s health begins to deteriorate.

Quick Hit Review: I’m ashamed to admit, while I certainly had heard of Midnight Cowboy, I never saw this Best Picture Academy Award winner (also got nominations for both stars) but with the recent Criterion Collection release, this was as good of an opportunity as any to finally watch and while it is well acted, finely scripted and a culturally brave for its time, emotionally I never quite could connect, not helped by an inconsistent and a bit distracting score and soundtrack, including the song, “Everybody’s Talkin’” by Nilsson which plays an awful lot early and once more towards the end. Good song, but really don’t want to listen to it again for a while.

This isn’t to say Midnight Cowboy isn’t a good movie and in fact, has many strong points and a wonderful message ranging from friendship to the gay overtones which did cause controversy with the MPAA. Jon Voight was absolutely fantastic as Joe Buck and Dustin Hoffman plays against type as a grimy swindler and thief, both of the actors play wonderfully off of one another and the friendship that developed really only helped with the melancholic end, though at the same time it was also beautiful, even heartfelt.

 

SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.75/5


This release comes in an HD Keep Case and a fold-out essay booklet. Most of the features from MGM’s Collector’s Edition.

Audio Commentary – Recorded in 1991, this track features Director John Schlesinger and Producer Jerome Hellman and it is a fascinating listen with the pair looking back at the production, discussing the story, filming locations amongst other topics.

Michael Childers (13:59), the photographer and life partner of director John Schlesinger, also served as his assistant on the film. This is a new interview where he discusses a selection of pics from the many candid images shot during the production.

Adam Holender (25:13) – The cinematographer provides a video essay discussing his work on Midnight Cowboy.

The Crowd Around the Cowboy (8:51) is a documentary from 1969, filmed on location during the production of Midnight Cowboy, featuring behind-the-scenes footage of the cast and crew.

After Midnight: Reflecting on a Classic 35 Years Later (29:59) and Controversy and Acclaim (10:10) are two documentaries produced in 2004 for the MGM Collector’s Edition release and feature interviews with Producer Jerome Hellman, Cinematographer Adam Holender, Actors Dustin Hoffman, Jon Voight, Sylvia Miles and Jennifer Salt.

John Schlesinger (15:28) sat down in 2000 for BAFTA Los Angeles talking about his career as a whole and presented here is an excerpt discussing gay themes in his work. Also included are excerpts from BAFTA’s tribute (33:09) to Schlesinger in 2002.

The David Frost Show (14:21) in 1970 appearance by Jon Voight as well as Screen Test (6:59) video.

Waldo Salt: A Screenwriter’s Journey (57:18) – This is a 1990 documentary about the life and career of Salt and was nominated for the Academy Award for best documentary feature.

Trailer (1:46)

 


VIDEO – 5.0/5


Midnight Cowboy comes to Blu-ray now from the Criterion Collection presented in its original 1.85 widescreen aspect ratio and a new 1080p high-definition transfer. As described in the booklet, the film underwent restoration, a new digital transfer that was created in 16-bit 4K resolution from the original 35 mm camera negative. As also noted, a 35 mm interpositive was used for some sections where the negative was damaged while the 2004 25th anniversary print was used as reference for color correct since it was supervised by director John Schlesinger, producer Jerome Heliman and cinematographer Adam Holender.

So, with the technical stuff out of the way, I can say this picture looks absolutely fantastic. Colors seem to be in keeping with how the film originally premiered back in 1969. Detail is amazingly sharp and there is some natural film noise and grain. I noticed no major instances of artifacting, aliasing or any other flaw so this yet another brilliant transfer from the team at Criterion.

AUDIO – 5.0/5


Just as the video got an update, the audio also underwent restoration. The original monaural soundtrack was remastered from the 35 mm magnetic track where clicks, thumps, hiss, hum and crackle were manually removed using tools. And it does sound great outputting crisp and clear audio from the center channel, including the dialogue levels. Also included is a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which presumably came from MGM’s 25th anniversary Blu-ray release.

 


OVERALL – 4.5/5


Overall, Midnight Cowboy for me wasn’t entirely the classic in my eyes, yet still is understandable for its cultural impact and propelled by two incredible performances by Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight, both equally deserving of their Best Actor Academy Award nominations. This Criterion Collection Blu-ray release is another homerun for the company with the outstanding video and audio transfers and excellent selection of bonus features.

 

 

 

 

Check out some more 1080p screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.

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