To this day, the Midnight Cowboy is one of my favorite films thanks to a creative/perfoming artists friend of mine who first introduced me to the film. I was so enamored by the film that I read the novel and the screenplay and they were all great in their own right, which is unusual for me to love both film and text versions of a story.
Usually, novels dont ever translate well onto the big-screen but Waldo Salt nailed it along with Director John Schlesinger as they adapted the screenplay from the original novel writen by James Leo Herlihy. I've read several novels of which I was completely fond of only to be disapointed with the film version. As a screenwriter myself I understand it can be tricky and downright difficult adapting from a novel because the end product, film media, is so completely different. Film is mostly visual vs. text is all imagination and rests within the mind's eye. And for a film to be succesful and garner attraction these visual elements cannot be neglected.
Fortunately, John Schlesinger well aware of this challenge and complexity knew that it would inherently require a considerable amount of time to do it right. So when he partnered with Waldo Salt to adapt the novel onto a screenplay that's exactly what they did. They invested a considerable amount of time and broke down the basic visual plot elements, essential for the big screen. Nevertheless, without delving too much into the process, the resulting end product once they were done cooking, after a long simmering aroma, was a terrific classic that won several academy awards, three oscars to be exact, for: best director, best screenplay, and best picture.