Urban Cowboy is a 1980 western drama film co-written & directed by James Bridges (The Paper Chase, The China Syndrome, The China Syndrome, Perfect, & Bright Lights, Big City). It’s based on Esquire Magazine article “The Ballad of the Urban Cowboy” from Aaron Latham (Perfect & The Program) who also co-wrote the film. It was produced by Robert Evans (Chinatown, The Two Jakes, The Cotton Club, Marathon Man, The Saint, & The Phantom). It was originally written for Dennis Quaid & Sissy Spacek had the lead role until she dropped out of the project. The budget was $10 million & it grossed $53.3 million worldwide at the box office!!!!
Bud Davis (played by: John Travolta from Pulp Fiction, Get Shorty/Be Cool, Carrie, Face/Off, & The Punisher) moves to Houston for a job in the city’s oil refinery industry. He hopes to save enough money to move back to his hometown of Spur, Texas & buy some land. Bud stays with his Uncle Bob (played by: Barry Corbin from Northern Exposure, Critters 2, No Country for Old Men, & Career Opportunities) & his family, with whom Bud is close. Bob takes Bud to the local honky tonk Gilley’s, a bar in the suburb of Pasadena which is co-owned by singer Mickey Gilley & his record producer Sherwood Cryer. Bud quickly embraces the local nightlife. He also gets a job at the oil refinery where Bob works. At the club, Bud meets Sissy (played by: Debra Winger from An Officer and a Gentleman, Terms of Endearment, Black Widow, & The Ranch) who asks if he is a real cowboy. They fall in love really quick & Bud asks Sissy to marry him. Their wedding reception is held at Gilley’s & they move into a brand new mobile home. Sissy is a feisty independent woman & Bud believes in traditional gender roles so it leads into some fights. Bud likes to ride the mechanical bull & wants to work in the rodeo someday.
Wes Hightower (played by: Scott Glenn from Training Day, Daredevil, The Silence of the Lambs, The Keep, & The Hunt for Red October) is released on parole from Huntsville Penitentiary & lands a job at Gilley’s running the mechanical bull with his old friend Steve Strange (played by: James Gammon from Major League 1/2, A Man Called Horse, Silverado, Wild Bill, & Silver Bullet). He openly flirts with Sissy. Bud is enraged at the insult & ends up in a fist fight with Wes. Sissy against Bud’s wishes, spends time at Gilley’s during the day with Wes, Steve, & her friend Jessie (played by: Jessie La Rive) learning how to ride the mechanical bull. At the refinery Bud has a serious accident & is sent home for the day. Bud breaks his arm after falling off the mechanical bull & he’s outdone by his wife Sissy. Bud ends up slapping her over it at home during a fight. To make Sissy jealous, Bud introduces himself to a beautiful girl named Pam (played by: Madolyn Smith from 2010, All of me, Funny Farm, & The Other Woman) & dances with her. Bud & Pam leave together to have sex but Sissy still declines Wes’ sexual advances. The couple breaks up over it. Bud wants to enter the mechanical bull riding rodeo at Gilley’s to win the $5,000 prize & starts training with Bob, who happens to be a former rodeo champion. Sissy returns to Bud’s mobile home & leaves him a note trying to get back together but Pam interferes so he never sees it. Bud is struck with a tragedy & he starts to question everything. He almost doesn’t enter the contest but ends up beating Wes for the money. He still feels empty after all of it. Will he get Sissy back? Or Will she be gone forever after that night????
Urban Cowboy is basically a country western version of Travolta’s previous hit Saturday Night Fever but better. I am not a huge country fan but the soundtrack here is top notch. I loved the scenes with The Charlie Daniels Band performing at the bar towards the end during the contests. The script is great, it has all kinds of drama & romance in a Texas setting which gives it a different atmosphere than most films like this. John Travolta & Debra Winger have amazing chemistry in this. Both deliver some of their best performances here. Scott Glenn is complete egoistical asshole with no morals in Urban Cowboy, he plays the villain well. You really end up hating his character. It has a solid supporting cast with some talented character actors like Barry Corbin & James Gammon. Madolyn Smith is great eye candy. Bud Davis is ambitious but he works hard to achieve his drams here & Sissy is hard headed which gets her in some real bad situations. This was the first time seeing this film for this review & I was very impressed by it. There’s not much like it out there so I appreciate it for being original & nothing like anything else in the sub-genre, RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Paramount Pictures! This 1080p (2.39:1) transfer is a huge upgrade compared to all the previous home video releases but it could have been better to be honest. It’s cleaned up to the point where it doesn’t look as natural as it’s original version because of the DNR applied to it. Don’t get me wrong, it looks good & it’s worth re-buying it if you already own an older release but don’t expect perfection with it. It has a few audio options which includes English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, German: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono, & French: Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on this new blu ray. Music is very important to this film so it sounds great especially because of the soundtrack which is elevated here. All the dialogue is crystal clear & the rodeo action has a nice boost to it. It also has English, English SDH, French, & German subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features from Paramount Pictures! “Good Times with Gilley: Looking Back at Urban Cowboy” is a little over 15 minute brand new interview with Mickey Gilley. He chats about his career. He goes over his club & the history of it. He talks about not liking the original article that inspired the film because he felt like it was making fun of everything. He goes over how the film got made & how it changed his life forever. He brings up his experiences with director James Bridges & lead actor John Travolta. He chats about the music & artists featured in Urban Cowboy. He talks about his Grammy award winning tack for it. He says young kids today can still relate to everything from it & it holds up after all these years. 6 “Deleted Scenes” that are a little over 8 minutes. It includes Your Folks Didn’t Like Me, Did They?; Rent’s Free, Can’t Beat That; I Guess I Better Find Myself Another Job; and How Come I Ain’t Seen Ya At Gilley’s? These are a little rough looking but it’s a nice extra to have. A little over 4 minutes of “Outtakes” which features some additional dancing. A little over 4 minutes of “Rehearsal Footage” which is mainly footage with the mechanical bull. It also comes with a slipcover & a digital code. This is the first time Urban Cowboy has been released on blu ray for it’s 40 year anniversy. It’s available everywhere right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!