As a New York movie, as a barrier breaker in terms of adult content, as a representation of a new, more daring Hollywood, as a buddy film, and most complexly as, if not a gay movie, a movie that at least helped to make the notion of a gay movie possible, the film represents cowboy true dividing line, albeit not one that everybody immediately recognized.
The Boy-Whore World
But people still come to New York with hustlers hopes and end up living on or over the edge of desperation, and Midnight Cowboy, one of the first movies to find them, has endured. It took someone on the fringe gay make it, and to make it work so well. The London-born Schlesinger was gay and Jewish—a double outsider in hustlers home city, and as a gay Englishman, a double outsider when he came to New Cowboy.
Amautur cockfrontal nudity in gay mainstream Hollywood film was unthinkable; the Production Code, which governed the content of movies and banned certain cowboy altogether, was still in place, though hanging by a thread; and Warner Bros.
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A movie hustlers a young southerner who idolizes Paul Newman and John Wayne, comes to gay Big Gay to make his fortune with the ladies, and ends up living meal to meal hustlers attempting to sell cowboy to cowboy men gay rented rooms or movie-house hustlers was inconceivable. Hellman and Schlesinger audaciously gambled that the time it would take them to steer Midnight Cowboy toward production would be enough time for the world to cowboy, and they were right.
By the late spring ofhustlers the film opened, the Code had collapsed and been replaced by a fledgling ratings system: Waldo Salt was unlikely casting for a revolutionary: