Third Decade reunites ‘Midnight Cowboy’ crew

Actors Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight, producer Jerome Hellman and director John Schlesinger were among the major players of “Midnight Cowboy” who reunited for a screening at the Directors Guild Wednesday night, in honor of the film’s 25th anniversary and imminent rerelease.

Five hundred members of the American Film Institute’s Third Decade Council, an industry networking association, as well as press and industry executives were treated to a restored print with remastered Dolby Stereo sound, panel discussion and reception.

The guests of honor included cinematographer Adam Holender, creative consultant Jim Clark, casting director Marion Dougherty and actress Brenda Vaccaro, as well as former United Artists chairman David Picker and MGM/UA chairman Frank Mancuso.

The 1969 picture earned seven Academy Award nominations and won for picture, director and adapted screenplay. It remains the only X-rated film to win the best picture Oscar.

On Feb. 25, United Artists will rerelease “Midnight Cowboy” at the Bruin in Westwood and the Baronet in New York — the theaters where the film played in ‘ 69 — with plans it expand to 10-12 major markets in March.

After “The Graduate” last year, this was the second event in what Third Decade hopes will become a series of reunions for films that inspired people to enter the entertainment industry. There are similar plans for “Diner” and “Some Like It Hot.”

Wednesday’s event was organized by ICM agent David Greenblatt and producer Cathleen Summers (both Third Decade members), in cooperation with AFI director Jean Firstenberg and MGM’s Mancuso, UA president John Calley and Gerry Rich, MGM/UA Distribution exec VP of worldwide marketing.

Greenblatt said the response last year inspired Third Decade to sked similar evenings. “There was a magical moment when the lights went up after ‘The Graduate,’ when there was a spontaneous standing ovation and we realized, ‘This is why we do what we do,’ ” Greenblatt said. “We realized that we should do this again and continue to go after movies of social significance.”

That aside, there’s always room for gossip and the “Cowboy” panel discussion delivered the inside skinny. “I was hoping to get through those days without getting fired,” said Voight of his first major film role.

Hoffman told of the time that, as the ailing character of Ratso Rizzo, he coughed so hard that he threw up on Voight’s cowboy boots. Voight turned to Schlesinger and said, “Is he going to keep doing that?”

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