Film writing competition: Midnight Cowboy

Midnight Cowboy

Electric Sheep Film Club

Venue: Prince Charles Cinema, London

Every second Wednesday of the month

We are pleased to announce that the winner of our May film writing competition, run in connection with the Electric Sheep monthly film club at the Prince Charles Cinema is Simon Johnson. Our judge was Time Out film critic Tom Huddleston, who said: ‘Simon Johnson’s review of Midnight Cowboy may read more like a diary entry than a film review - gleefully breaking that cardinal critics’ rule of keeping yourself out of it - but its a heartfelt, lovingly written and rather touching celebration of a classic film.’

Here’s Simon Johnson’s review:

It was just as the Greyhound left the Port Authority bus station bound for Florida that it occurred to me. I turned to my friend Shane, a fellow cineaste, and asked him if he remembered the scene near the end of Midnight Cowboy when Joe Buck and Ritso Rizzo, aka Ratso, left the very same bus station, also on a Greyhound and also bound for Florida. ‘Of course,’ he replied, ‘and that means you’re Ratso and I’m Joe Buck!’

This was in 1989 and in the intervening years many times have letters, postcards and emails been exchanged between us always arguing who is indeed Joe Buck as neither of us wants to be Ratso. On that Greyhound all the way to Miami, we came to realise how much the film meant to both of us. It was often shown late at night on the BBC in the 1970s and 80s and I always made a point of seeing it. For a teenage boy the film was impossibly sophisticated, exciting and even a little bit dangerous. The heady mixture of illicit sex, religion, counter-culture and New York was intoxicating. This was the New York I was looking for on my first visit in that summer of 1989, even more so than the city of Taxi Driver or Mean Streets. Being fairly broke meant that we did see the seedy side depicted in the film.

I still watch the film every year and even though some argue that it is dated it always seems fresh and dynamic to me. Oh, and Shane, I’m Joe Buck!

Next screening: Wednesday 14 July – Blaxploitation classic Foxy Brown + Q&A with award-winning filmmaker Rebecca Johnson.