Midnight Love Affair
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Published in: September-October 2023 issue.


(Queer Film Classics Book 5)
by Jon Towlson
McGill-Queen’s University Press. 113 pages, $19.95

THE BEST FILM CRITICS recognize that a film exists in many different contexts, having gone through a series of passages from its initial conceptualization through writing, casting, and production, culminating in its critical and audience reception. In his reconsideration of Midnight Cowboy, Jon Towlson suggests that, when seen from all of these perspectives, the film represents an important turning point in the presentation of gay themes—not quite a celebration of gay male bonding but a crucial step in this direction and thus a forerunner to many films that followed.

            Towlson presents a painstaking and detailed analysis of the principal scenes in the film, indicating how they relate to the issues of gay sexuality, homophobia, masculine mythologies, and male friendship. Arguing against some mainstream critics who dismissed the film as vulgar or exploitative, he suggests that many of the elements that provoked these views were simply presentations of life as it was in New York City in the 1970s, notably the dangerous and depressing world of 42nd Street hustlers.

Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy.

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 James Gilbert’s four novels include Murder at the Olympiad.


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