Download Shooting Midnight Cowboy: Art, Sex, Loneliness, Liberation, and the Making of a Dark Classic Audiobook

Shooting Midnight Cowboy: Art, Sex, Loneliness, Liberation, and the Making of a Dark Classic Audiobook, by Glenn Frankel Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Glenn Frankel Narrator: John Pruden Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2021 ISBN: 9781799970521
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A history of the controversial Oscar-winning film that signaled a dramatic shift in American popular culture

The director John Schlesinger’s Darling was nominated for five Academy Awards and introduced the world to the transcendently talented Julie Christie. Suddenly the toast of Hollywood, Schlesinger used his newfound clout to film an expensive Eastmancolor adaptation of Far from the Madding Crowd. Expectations were huge, making the movie’s complete critical and commercial failure even more devastating, and Schlesinger suddenly found himself persona non grata in the Hollywood circles he had hoped to join.

Given his recent travails, Schlesinger’s next project seemed doubly daring, bordering on foolish. James Leo Herlihy’s novel Midnight Cowboy, about a Texas hustler trying to survive on the mean streets of 1960s New York, was dark and transgressive. Perhaps something about the book’s unsparing portrait of cultural alienation resonated with him. His decision to film it began one of the unlikelier convergences in cinematic history, centered around a city that seemed, at first glance, as unwelcoming as Herlihy’s novel itself.

Glenn Frankel’s Shooting “Midnight Cowboy” tells the story of a modern classic that, by all accounts, should never have become one in the first place. The film’s boundary-pushing subject matter—homosexuality, prostitution, sexual assault—earned it an X rating when it first appeared in cinemas in 1969. For Midnight Cowboy, Schlesinger—who had never made a film in the United States—enlisted Jerome Hellman, a producer smarting from a failed marriage, and Waldo Salt, a formerly blacklisted screenwriter with a tortured past. The decision to shoot on location in New York, at a time when the city was approaching its gritty nadir, backfired when a sanitation strike filled Manhattan with garbage fires and fears of dysentery.

Much more than a history of Schlesinger’s film, Shooting “Midnight Cowboy” is an arresting glimpse into the world from which it emerged: a troubled city that nurtured the talents and ambitions of the pioneering Polish cinematographer Adam Holender and the legendary casting director Marion Dougherty, who discovered both Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight and supported them for the roles of Ratso Rizzo and Joe Buck—leading to one of the most intensely moving joint performances ever to appear on screen.

We follow Herlihy himself as he moves from the experimental confines of Black Mountain College to the theaters of Broadway, influenced by close relationships with Tennessee Williams and Anaïs Nin, and yet unable to find lasting literary success.

By turns madcap and serious, and enriched by interviews with Hoffman, Voight, and others, Shooting “Midnight Cowboy” is not only the definitive account of the film that unleashed a new wave of innovation in American cinema but also the story of a country (and an industry) beginning to break free from decades of cultural and sexual repression.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Frankel illuminates the cultural forces that fed the creation of an iconic 1960s classic. This perceptive work elegantly captures how a movie can embody a moment in time.”

    Julie Salamon, New York Times bestselling author

  • “This enthralling account of a boundary-breaking film is catnip for film buffs.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “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.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “A rare cinema book that is as mesmerizing as its subject.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • Midnight Cowboy [is] a film particularly resonant for the taboos it broke and its surprising success at a transitional moment in our cultural history. All the backstories provide rich reading, unearthing little-known facts that illuminate whole careers.”

    Molly Haskell, author of Steven Spielberg: A Life in Films

  • “Frankel has done that rare, great thing: shown us a world within a world of literary, filmic, and human longing and linked singular gems of history into a fresh and truthful mosaic.”

    Sheila Weller, New York Times bestselling author

  • “Through the prism of a compassionate, taboo-busting movie, Glenn Frankel has given us a master class in filmmaking that doubles as a rich cultural history of a tumultuous epoch…a consistently entertaining tour full of vibrant, indelible characters.”

    Margaret Talbot, author of The Entertainer

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About the Author

Glenn Frankel worked for many years at The Washington Post, winning a Pulitzer Prize in 1989. He taught journalism at Stanford University and the University of Texas at Austin, where he directed the School of Journalism. He won the National Jewish Book Award and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. He is the New York Times–bestselling author of The Searchers and High Noon, and he lives in Arlington, Virginia.

About the Narrator

John Pruden is an Earphones Award–winning audiobook narrator. His exposure to many people, places, and experiences throughout his life provides a deep creative well from which he draws his narrative and vocal characterizations. His narration of The Killing of Crazy Horse by Thomas Powers was chosen by the Washington Post as a Best Audiobook of 2010.