It's a fascinating look at the process that led to one of the 20th century's most iconic works of art ... Histories of filmmaking can easily turn into inside baseball, interesting only to film students and the most dedicated cinéastes, but Frankel does a remarkable job telling the story of how the movie happened. He's such a gifted storyteller that you don't even have to be familiar with the film to find the book fascinating ... That Frankel is willing to point out that the movie is flawed is part of what makes the book so essential—Shooting Midnight Cowboy is a history, not a paean, and he asks viewers to reconsider what the movie meant, not just to American culture, but to the cast and crew who made it. Frankel's book is a must-read for anyone interested in cinematic history, and an enthralling look at Schlesinger's 'dark, difficult masterpiece and the deeply gifted and flawed men and women who made it.'
... a masterfully structured study bursting with detail and context ... revealing details permeate Frankel’s book, touching on the making of the movie (you’ll likely never think about casting in the same way), the individuals involved, and the social history of the time and place. Frankel puts it all together with narrative verve, telling a propulsive tale about creativity, commerce and loss.
Frankel is a smooth writer and sure-footed narrator who uses this volume to excavate the cultural landscape of postwar America — the entrenched homophobia, the shameless exploitation of women, the corrosion of our cities. But even good books about great movies have limits. In this case, squeezing more than 300 pages of prose from a 113-minute film does not always come easily ... Frankel is a diligent researcher, and he uncovers the rich details that gave the movie its texture and authenticity ... While Frankel uses Midnight Cowboy to trace broader cultural trends, some digressions are extraneous. There are unnecessary details of the self-absorbed Warhol; of a bomb that detonates in a townhouse next to Hoffman’s Greenwich Village apartment; of Schlesinger’s next movie. Some careless writing also creeps in ... Nonetheless, Frankel’s book will satisfy anyone interested in how a long-shot movie about two underdogs became an American original.
... illuminating ... the new book employs a wide lens ... In creating his definitive account, Frankel has gathered memorable details about tight budgets, perseverance, and resourcefulness ... it’s the films’ fascinating backstories as much as their lonesome cowboys that animate Frankel’s trilogy. There are no tidy endings for anyone involved, least of all the guy riding off into the sunrise on a Greyhound bus, alone again.
Frankel...is diligent in his attention to all of the moving parts that go into making a film: the building of a team of disparate, sometimes at-odds talents; the days and weeks of preparation; the last-minute flashes of inspiration. He is somewhat less convincing in describing the why and how these many elements combine to create something of lasting resonance ... while Frankel is free with superlatives...he gives little sense of what recommends Midnight Cowboy to posterity ... Because Frankel looks at cinema for a reflection of the times and as a means for changing hearts and minds, he has a limited interest in fringe work. Addressed to a small and self-selecting audience, low-profile 'underground' cinema has only so much capacity to 'shift the dialogue' or have a 'social impact' ... From Oscar triumph Frankel proceeds through a familiar threnody—the lament for Times Square, sanitized and Disneyfied, and for New Hollywood ... after a while you might start to wonder how much of this mourning New Hollywood is another form of self-congratulation with the addition of dewy nostalgia, and how much a “breakthrough” like Midnight Cowboy amounts to the mainstream arriving at a point where real outsiders had been hanging out for years[.]
... another making-of book that transcends the genre. This is no mere story of the production of a movie ... instead, it offers in-depth portraits of the man who created the characters of Joe Buck and Ratso Rizzo...and the men who gave them cinematic life ... Frankel provides us with the context we need to fully appreciate the film as a vivid snapshot of a specific time and place in American history.
Frankel...paints the story of the film with a wide and holistic brush ... Tackling questions of censorship and the MPAA ratings, bravura performances by Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman, the costumes, the soundtrack, and the film’s coronation at the 1970 Academy Awards, Frankel expertly brings it all together ... An in-depth, exquisite biography of a legendary film, and a must-read for cinephiles.
In this outstanding work...Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Frankel covers every facet of the film’s creation ... In a canny move, Frankel places the film in historical context, detailing major world events at the time of the shoot ... Interviews with the film’s surviving principals add immediacy, and descriptions of small production details enhance the book’s power ... A rare cinema book that is as mesmerizing as its subject.