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The Improvised Dustin Hoffman Line That Changed Midnight Cowboy Forever

Over the years, John Schlesinger's "Midnight Cowboy" has become synonymous with New York City street life as well as the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple as a whole. The movie not only explores the grittier and seedier side of NYC, but also serves as a reminder of what some people went through in the 1960s and 1970s to achieve their so-called American dream. Jon Voight's Joe Buck character travels from Texas to the East Coast in search of hustling his way to the top as a male sex worker. But as The Nation perfectly puts it, the "rootless dreamer" is quickly reduced to "a face in the crowd" and gets forced to join up with local pimp Ratso Rizzo, played by Dustin Hoffman, who befriends Joe and helps him make money as a sex worker. 

While the Oscar-winning film is filled with iconic scenes, there's one part of "Midnight Cowboy" in particular that changed the entire landscape of the movie and actually went on to become one of the most recognizable moments in Hollywood history. Those who've seen the X-rated flick likely know exactly what we are talking about, and even those who haven't probably have heard or seen the moment referenced a time or two.

'I'm walking here!'

It's a line and scene that lives in movie infamy — and one that almost didn't even happen. 

According to Dustin Hoffman and others, the moment where Joe Buck and Ratso Rizzo nearly get run over by a New York City cab and Rizzo shouts, "I'm walking here!" was totally improvised and never supposed to happen. The driver had jumped the light and nearly taken Hoffman and co-star Jon Voight out with his vehicle during one of the takes when the famous line was first uttered. 

"It was a low-budget movie," Hoffman explained in 2012 to the National Post. "Consequently, on Sixth Avenue, there was no money to stack it with extras [...] The first take a cab jumps the light ... I wound up saying, 'I'm walkin' here!' But what was going through my head is, 'Hey, we're makin' a movie here! And you just f***ed this shot up.' But somehow something told me, you'd better keep it within the character." Director John Schlesinger loved the moment so much that he reportedly asked Hoffman to shoot it again for the final cut, only this time an extra was used as the cab driver.