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Jon Towlson

Midnight Cowboy (Queer Film Classics #5)

Midnight Cowboy (Queer Film Classics #5)

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Midnight Cowboy – the story of a small-town stud’s attempt to make it big as a hustler on the streets of 1960s New York – is an indisputably iconic film. Though recognised in terms of its early adoption of Nouvelle Vague cinematography and editing techniques, and renowned for an Oscar win in spite of controversy over its X-rating, Midnight Cowboy has yet to be understood as a classic of queer cinema.

Jon Towlson reclaims Midnight Cowboy as a queer text by addressing John Schlesinger as a gay author and filmmaker and providing a fresh perspective on the film’s relationship to the 1965 James Leo Herlihy novel from which it was adapted. Offering a nuanced and personal view of the film’s relevance to queer experience and queer friendship, Towlson also considers Midnight Cowboy’s production and reception and its place in Schlesinger’s filmography. Depictions of sixties New York counterculture and 42nd Street hustlers offer an opportunity for reassessment, particularly in the film's relationship to male prostitution, male relationships, and sexual identity.

By shifting the perspective away from previous interpretations of Midnight Cowboy as homophobic and problematic, Towlson argues for a new interpretation of the film as a proto-queer buddy movie and a critical forerunner to films such as My Own Private Idaho and Brokeback Mountain.

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