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 shies away from none of these behind-the-scenes tensions, allowing the overarching theme of great art requiring hard work and hard feelings to flourish across the many tales told ... By illustrating the city’s homophobic bent in the years leading up to and following Midnight Cowboy’s release, the author also depicts why the most enduring queer marriage will always be between our nelly art and the underground ... Unlike such exceptional biographers as Joan Schenkar or Jenn Shapland, Frankel doesn’t rely on imagination to guide the story he tells with a mastered, Pulitzer-earning succinctness. The enviably straightforward writing style he puts to such great use in Shooting Midnight Cowboy makes sense when one considers his roots: like Rizzo, he’s a Bronx boy, born into a working-class family in the wake of World War II. While Frankel fared better than his fictional shoe-shining film sibling, graduating from Columbia University in 1971, both still boast the same learned understanding and appreciation for New York City’s rogue economies and their geographies...As a result, Frankel makes for the most trustworthy of narrators. Even if it seldom shows in his research-rich chapters, one gets the sense that his interest in this unlikely blockbuster came with, at minimum, a hearty dose of homegrown empathy and curiosity — a dying breed of a combination.