Why is it that "Cowboy" leaves me feeling like watching a dated soap opera and yet Sinatra's film The Detective filmed and released the year BEFORE "Cowboy" cuts deeper into showing "underground" sexual identity and emotional tension?
For me, the problem is that Schlesinger strives to present some type of dramatic realism in Midnight Cowboy
and for which the film was praised & received an X rating. But in fact it was only the case because Hollywood never dared to tackle the topic head-on before. In fact, the film is so far removed from the reality of street hustlers in the 60s (and this is actually almost 1970), that it's a quite fanciful portrait (but tries to play it straight). Paul Morrissey's films (Heat
, Lonsome Cowboys
...) all portray New York underground/street life much more credibly in spite of their campiness. (and predate MC) At the same time, I find the buddy films of the 50s/60s (Wessterns, crime, sand & sandals etc.) to be much more interesting to watch for the instances of "gay subtext" underlying many a plot developments precisely because they're meant more for entertainment & not striving for "realism".
Ironically, Schlessinger's earlier film "Darling" has always felt totally explicitly trapped by its tone and era- Richard Lester photoplay- "terriblly Chelsea" shallow yuppies- and can be enjoyed if seen as camp, something "Cowboy" just cannot acheive today. Darling
is probably my 2nd favorite Schlesinger (after Sunday Bloody Sunday
, where he really gets it right) while not always taking everything so seriously. Darling
always strikes me as 1/2 Breakfast At Tiffany's
and 1/2 La Dolce Vita
. I've never quite liked Breakfast At Tiffany's
for many of the same reasons I have problems with Midnight Cowboy
, but it plays it for entertainment & is less objectionable. Darling
always strikes me as being the movie that Breakfast At Tiffany's
should have been.