X-rated movies are forever associated with pornography now, but that wasn’t originally the case. In fact, an X-rated movie once won an Oscar.
1969’s “Midnight Cowboy” was rated “X” for its depictions of sex and strong language, but especially for the “degenerate” sex scene between Jon Voight and a young, meek Bob Balaban.
The MPAA originally intended for the “X” rating to only mean that the movie’s content was unsuitable for children. Pornographers quickly took over the rating, however, and most mainstream theaters refused to show X-rated movies because of the stigma, the sissies.
Happily for “Cowboy,” the MPAA re-rated the film two years later, dropping it to its current “R” rating.
Nevertheless, the Association of Motion Pictures honored “Cowboy” under its 1969 rating, making it the only X-rated film to be nominated for, or to win, an Oscar.
Speaking of Oscars, Jon Voight received a nomination for his portrayal of Joe Buck, but he wasn’t director John Schlesinger’s first choice for the part. At various times, big hitters like Warren Beatty and Michael Sarrazin, and relative unknowns like Kiel Martin and Stuart Cooper, were considered. Lee Majors was originally cast, but had to pull out when his television show, “The Big Valley,” was renewed.
The Six Million Dollar Man as Joe Buck? Now that would have been interesting.