Joe Buck (John Voight) is the naive Texas dishwasher who leaves his tiny town for a life as a male prostitute in New York City. He quits his job and gets on a northbound bus. The rural rube encounters the brassy Cass (Sylvia Miles) and believes he has his first paying customer, but the Jewish princess brings out the crying towel in mock humiliation. Joe ends up giving her money for cab fare as his experience foreshadows other demoralizing events. He meets local street hustler Ratso Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman) who relieves Joe of some more cash and sends him to the demented religious fanatic O'Daniel (John McGiver). Joe is horrified to learn O'Daniel is not a pimp and flees his seedy apartment. Wandering the cold, lonely streets, Joe is amazed that a dead man on the sidewalk draws no attention or interest from the locals. He meets up with the conniving Ratso and threatens to kill him if he doesn't return the money. Ratso gives Joe a place to stay in a condemned apartment building where the two scrounge for survival as winter approaches. Joe is reduced to allowing himself to be used for homosexual sex and a young college student fails to pay for his services. Ratso and Joe attend a trendy, drug soaked Manhattan party where he meets the stoned Shirley (Brenda Vaccaro), who pays Joe double the asking price for his sexual services. Ratso is already a cripple who finds his health worsening with the arrival of winter. Joe returns Ratso's kindness by vowing to take the ailing petty thief to Miami. While Ratso dreams of sun, fun and bikini clad women, Joe encounters a simpering, middle-aged homosexual from Chicago in town for a convention. He asks the man for money but is far short of the amount needed for two-one way trips to Florida on the Greyhound bus. Joe knocks out the man's dentures and sticks telephone receiver down the man's throat. By now Ratso is convinced he will be preyed upon in the mean streets of New York if he doesn't get to warm weather soon. Midnight Cowboy won the Oscar for Best Picture, Best screenplay (Waldo Salt) and Best Director (John Schlesinger). Hoffman, Voight, and Miles were nominated for their performances. Fred Neil's song "Everybody's Talking" was a smash for Nillson. Warren Zevon wrote a song, and The Group and Elephant's Memory also contributed to the memorable soundtrack. The film was rated X at the time and it the only X rated feature to win the Academy Award.