NC-17 films: Why they got the rating
By Noelene Clark and Nardine Saad
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'Midnight Cowboy' | 1969 | X( United Artists )
Box office: $44,785,053
The only X-rated film to win an Academy Award for best picture, John Schlesinger's "Midnight Cowboy" (based on James Leo Herlihy's novel) starred then-newcomer Jon Voight, left, as a prostitute in New York City and Dustin Hoffman as his friend, an ailing thief.
"We felt the X rating was the correct rating for it," the film's producer Jerome Hellman told the L.A. Times in 1992. "X in those days did not mean pornography." After "Midnight Cowboy" won three Oscars (and was nominated for four more), it was re-rated R.
"The great thing about 'Midnight Cowboy' is that we didn't question what we were doing," Schlesinger told the Philadelphia Inquirer when the film was re-released in 1994. "We just did it with a total feeling of confidence and freedom. We didn't think, 'Oh, we're being very groundbreaking on this.' I just made the film the way I wanted to."
MORE: 'Midnight Cowboy' and the very dark horse its makers rode in on | Obituary