Pause for kids 16 & under
Classic Oscar winner has explicit material, mature themes.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Midnight Cowboy was the first X-rated film to win the Oscar for Best Picture, though its rating was later changed to an R. Made in 1969, the movie has some strong adult content that can still startle today. The main character wishes to be a male prostitute for women, and there are many sexual situations shown, many of them disturbing and on the point of abuse. Some nudity (breasts and male and female backsides) is shown. In one scene, a character brutally beats up another man, and blood is shown. In flashback, rape and sexual abuse are suggested. A character dies. Language is not as strong as it might be today, but still contains uses of "s--t," "bitch," "bastard," and "faggot," among other words. The character smokes pot at a party (without knowing what it is) and takes a psychedelic drug. Pot, heroin, and "uppers and downers" are mentioned. Characters also smoke cigarettes and drink in a background way.
- Families can talk about the sexuality in the movie. Is it meant to be titillating, or does it have a darker side? How frequently does sex connect to love? Money? Violence?
- Why do you think this movie is considered a classic?
- Despite its grittiness, and all the bad things that happen, is the movie ultimately hopeful? What do the characters hope for?
- What do the flashbacks show? How explicit are they? What ideas were they trying to convey? How do they affect the present-day story?
- Does this movie seem like an Oscar-winner for Best Picture? Does it seem like it ought to have an "X" rating?