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Urban Cowboy Details


"You a real cowboy?" John Travolta traded disco for a mechanical bull in this adaptation by James Bridges and Aaron Latham of Latham's article on Western nightlife. Texas country boy Bud (Travolta) moves to Houston to work on an oil rig with his Uncle Bob (Barry Corbin), and he swiftly becomes indoctrinated in the nighttime rituals of drinking, dancing, and showing off cowboy duds at Gilley's, the enormous local honkytonk. There he meets and marries the sassy Sissy (Debra Winger), but the honeymoon quickly ends when Sissy starts spending too much time learning the men-only skill of mechanical bull-riding from ex-con Wes (Scott Glenn); Bud throws her out and hooks up with slumming Pam (Madolyn Smith). Under the paternal tutelage of Uncle Bob, Bud then learns not only how to master the bull but also what it takes to be a real man rather than just an ersatz cowboy. With a story, cast, and setting that were essentially Madolyn Smith country-style, Urban Cowboy was poised to be a summer 1980 hit. Although its box office did not live up to Fever's legacy, Urban Cowboy did spawn a soundtrack album of country-and-western hits and helped spur a Western fashion vogue; people from all regions began sporting cowboy boots, and mechanical bulls started replacing passé disco floors. The first of Travolta's many comebacks, Urban Cowboy provided the star with a more "manly" image after his Madolyn Smith (1978) fiasco, but it was neophyte co-star Winger who got even better notices. With its Western milieu and retro view of relationships, Urban Cowboy stands as a sign of the nascent Reagan era, as '70s icon Travolta learned bull-riding himself and replaced his white polyester with a black Stetson. ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi

  • Release date:June 6, 1980


Awarded by
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Debra Winger Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture 1980 Nominee
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Debra Winger New Star of the Year - Female 1980 Nominee


John Travolta
as Bud Davis
Debra Winger
as Sissy
Scott Glenn
as Wes
Madolyn Smith
as Pam
Barry Corbin
as Uncle Bob
Brooke Alderson
as Aunt Corene
Bonnie Raitt
as Musical Appearance
Cooper Huckabee
as Marshall
James Gammon
as Steve Strange
Mickey Gilley
as Musical Appearance
Charlie Daniels
as Musical Appearance
Anson Downes
as Wedding Party
Leah Geldart
as Bud's Sister
Jerry Hall
as Sexy Sister
Christopher Saylors
as Bubba
Ed Geldart
as Bud's Dad
Lucky Mosley
as Plant Supervisor
Sean Lawler
as Willie, Bud's Cousin
Gator Conley
as Gator
Howard Norman
as Bud's Brother
Keith Clemons
as Bud's Brother
Jim Gough
as Sissy's Dad
James Harrell
as Minister at Gravesite
Ann Travolta
as Wedding Party
Sheryl Briedel
as Lou Sue, Bud's Cousin
Robert Bush
as Dwight
Steve Chambers
as Truck Driver in Parking Lot
Ellen March
as Becky (Stoney's Waitress)


James Bridges
Irving Azoff
Robert Evans
C.O. Erickson
Jack Larson
James Bridges
Reynaldo Villalobos
David Rawlins
Stephen B. Grimes
Production Designer
C.O. Erickson
Executive Producer
George R. Nelson
Set Designer
Willie D. Burton
Sound/Sound Designer
Kim Kurumada
First Assistant Director
Patsy Swayze
Jimmy Buffett
Musical Performer