The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of behind-the-scenes explorations of classic American Westerns returns to excavate the controversial 1969 Oscar-winning film that signaled a dramatic shift in American popular culture.
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.