About a decade before he won a Best Actor Oscar playing a paraplegic veteran in the Vietnam drama Coming Home, Jon Voight — then a strapping, blond stud — made movie history by starring in the now iconic Midnight Cowboy, the first and only X-rated movie to win Best Picture.
Voight plays Joe Buck, a country bumpkin who fosters dreams of making a quick buck by whoring himself out to bored socialites who get wet from watching Gunsmoke. So Angelina’s whacky wingnut daddy buys some boots and a cowboy hat and sets off for New York City. New York City?! And in a New York minute this would-be hustler becomes an easy mark and gets taken for every penny. After his dreams of hustling rich ladies go up in smoke, he ends up going gay for pay.
The sexual content is tame by today’s standards, so it seems ridiculous that Midnight Cowboy would receive an X rating. As it turns out, homophobia was the biggest factor. The movie was initially slated to get an R rating, but studio execs were talked into accepting an “adults only” label by a psychologist who suggested the “homosexual frame of reference” would be harmful to “youngsters.”