Contrary to popular belief, the X-rating assigned to Midnight Cowboy did not come from a prudish motion picture ratings board, but from a studio executive whose marketing team turned the X rating into a marketing bonanza, according to Pulitzer Prize-winning author and movie expert Glenn Frankel.
Frankel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and movie expert, visits the SBN studios to discuss his new book that launched March 16, Shooting Midnight Cowboy: Art, Sex, Loneliness, Liberation, and the Making of a Dark Classic (affiliate link), a recounting of the history of the 1969 film starring Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight that was the first (and only) X-rated film to ever win a Best Picture Award from the Motion Picture Academy of Arts & Sciences.
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rating board originally assigned an R rating to the movie, but studio executives decided to apply the X rating to the film, leading the studio marketing department to leverage the “adults-only” rating as a marketing ploy to make the movie irresistible to audiences seeking edgy and controversial topics, says Frankel.
Frankel describes the literary milieu surrounding James Herlihy, the author of Midnight Cowboy, and explains how the novel made its way to John Schlesinger, the film’s director. In this video interview with SBN correspondent Steve Lubetkin, Frankel also recalls Schlesinger’s doubts about casting Hoffman and Voight in what turned out to be a classic movie.
Watch the conversation in the player below, or download an audio podcast of the interview.
Steve Lubetkin is the news director for StateBroadcastNews.com. Steve’s journalism background includes print and broadcast reporting for NJ news organizations. He refocused on multimedia journalism and podcast production after a long career in corporate branded journalism and public relations.
He has won numerous awards for his audio and video news reporting from the Garden State Journalists Association, and he has also been recognized for video by the New Jersey Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He has produced a wide range of audio and video podcasts in his other role as managing partner of State Broadcast News’s parent, The Lubetkin Media Companies.
Steve is co-author, with Toronto-based podcasting pioneer Donna Papacosta, of the book, The Business of Podcasting: How to Take Your Podcasting Passion from the Personal to the Professional.
In March 2021, he was elected to the board of directors of the New Jersey Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and in July 2021 he was named secretary of the chapter. In August 2021, he was honored by SPJ with one of the organization’s 2021 Howard S. Dubin Outstanding Pro Member Awards, given to regular members of an SPJ chapter who go above and beyond in serving their chapter.
Steve has been the computer columnist for the Jewish Community Voice of Southern New Jersey, since 1996.
Steve also has reported on-camera and produces virtual conferences for NJSpotlightNews.org, a public policy news coverage website focused on New Jersey government and industry; and for clients of StateBroadcastNews.com, a division of The Lubetkin Media Companies LLC.
From May-November 2019, he produced and reported a weekly podcast, The CRE News Hour, a news and features program focusing on the commercial real estate industry.
From 2014 to 2019 he was New Jersey and Philadelphia editor for GlobeSt.com and filled in covering Chicago/Midwest and Atlanta.
Steve has also served (from August 2017 to March 2018) as national broadcast news correspondent for CEOReport.com, a news website focused on practical advice for senior executives in small- and medium-sized companies.
Earlier in his career, Steve reported on rock music at the Jersey Shore for the Asbury Park Press, and was a broadcast news anchor and production engineer for WJLK-AM & FM, then owned by the Press. He also worked as a general assignment reporter for the Red Bank Register, Shrewsbury, NJ.
You can email Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org.