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'Desperate Souls,' 'Dark City,' and 'The Midnight Cowboy Saga' Review: A Jagged Documentary About the Groundbreaking Oscar Winner

A hot trend in publishing these days is to write an entire book about making a seminal film. Over the past few years, there have been book winners about West Side Story (2003 Oscars , not a Spielberg remake), Wild Bunch , Chinatown and The Godfather , to name a few. Glenn Frankel, who wrote earlier books about Noon and The Searcher making, followed up last year Shooting the Midnight Cowboy: Art, Sex, Solitude, Liberation and the Making of a Dark Classic . Now, the book, in turn, has inspired a new documentary by Nancy Bilsky, set in Venice and Tellurida.

While a 101 minute movie will never have the breadth or depth of a 41 pages of the book, Buirski’s film does have the advantage of offering revealing footage interviews with several film directors , including actors Jon Voight, Brenda Vaccaro and Bob Balaban. Watt is particularly keen to demonstrate his admiration for director John Schlesinger, and the film’s take on two social outcasts — con man Joe Barker and Dustin Hoffman’s con man Lasso Rizzo. A profound portrayal of friendship. Buirski was unable to obtain interviews with Hoffman, although she relied on audio interviews Frankel conducted as research for his book.

Desperate Souls, The Dark City, and Legend of the Midnight Cowboy

Bottom line Occasionally shines.


Director – Author: Nancy Bilski
1961 1 hour minute

One shortcoming of the film is that it relies on too many voice-over commentary, not just from Hoffman, but from interviews with Schlesinger and screenwriter Waldo Salter decades ago. (Schlesinger died at 2003.) Some of these disembodied voices are not recognized as often as they might be, And they do get tiresome. Salt’s daughter, actress and writer Jennifer Salt, who had a small role in Midnight Cowboy and was romantically involved with Voight while filming the film, offers some of the best In-depth about-camera review.

Compared to Frankel’s book, the film suffers in several ways. He was able to weave two larger themes – the decay of New York City during the period depicted in Midnight Cowboy and the film’s revolutionary gay content (much of which came from the original James Leo Herlihy’s) novel), which reflects 101 the great changes in American culture in the later period. Buirski does include relevant commentary from some gay historians, such as Charles Caesar (Gay Metropolis), and she also delves into Schlesinger’s own struggles with sexuality. Here, the filmmakers rely on some revealing interviews with Schlesinger’s nephew, Ian Bruma, and the director’s life partner, Michael Childers. But perhaps inevitably, she fails to do justice to the larger theme in Frankel’s book.

Instead, Buirski tries to connect the film to the turmoil surrounding the Vietnam War, and those comparisons often seem reluctant. Of course many of the dark films produced in the later period indirectly reflect the disillusionment nurtured by America’s involvement in Vietnam, but Buirski exaggerates not really providing enough insight to keep it firmly in mind. War is shown at the beginning and end of the film, an emphasis that seems tense.

The most powerful element of this movie, aside from some effective interviews, is probably the generous snippet from Midnight Cowboy itself. The excerpts highlight the film’s gaming elements, including some less idyllic depictions of gay encounters, as well as the tenderness in the scene between Hoffman and Water.

Buirski authored several early documents, including one on director Sidney Lumet, an early study of the Loving v. Virginia case, which legalized interracial marriage, and others on A powerful film of racial conflict. Her latest film may not be her strongest, but it will encourage viewers to learn more about some of the forgotten players in the Midnight Cowboys saga, including Waldo and Jennifer Soe Walter, cinematographer Adam Holland and casting director Marion Dougherty, who played a key role in getting Voight to Schlesinger’s attention.

101 Full credits

Venue: Venice Film Festival (Venice Classics)

Director and screenwriter: Nancy Buirski

Inspired by: Glenn Frankel’s book

Producers: Nancy Bilsky, Simon Kilmery, Susan Margolin

Executive Producers: James Costa, Geralyn Dreyfous, JC Mills, Glen Salzman, Regina K. Scully, Nathalie Seaver, Mark Trustin, Jamie Wolf

Director of Photography: Rex Miller

Editor: Anthony Ripoli
2003 Music Supervisor: Doug Bernheim

1 hour minute

101 THR Newsletter

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