Famed for being the only `X-rated' movie to win an Oscar, this bleak drama, dotted with moments of dark humour, has lost nothing since it was released in 1969.
Joe Buck (Jon Voight) is young, handsome and tired of his dead-end job washing dishes in a Texan diner, so he splashes out on some cowboy-style duds and heads to New York. There he intends to make a good living as a `Hustler', servicing the horizontal needs of bored, rich women.
Unfortunately, his youth and enthusiasm are matched by his naivety and he soon finds himself homeless and a frequent victim of all manner of low-life and weirdo. A mutual dependency develops between himself and one such character, Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman), a limping, greasy consumptive, who dreams of finding health and popularity in the fabled sun-drenched land of Florida.
Joe's own dreams are gradually eroded as he slides into male prostitution and he is haunted by memories of his insecure childhood, when he was abandoned into the care of his lascivious grandmother and of a recent terrifying ordeal which parted him from the girl he loved.
Joe is fundamentally a decent guy, but to survive he must do indecent things, including violence. The pitiful Rizzo is both his tormentor and helper, who unwittingly prevents Joe from attaining his dream at the very moment it is to be realised.
Similarly, Rizzo's own dream is taken from him at the moment of attainment, leaving Joe a frightened but wiser man.
This is a seminal movie from what was a newly-emerging style of American film-making, which had begun to cast off the sunny optimism of post-war cinema and tackle darker, grittier themes.
DVD picture quality is good but volume drops for about 20 mins at around the halfway point. Also the booklet referred to in the product description was not included.