Urban Cowboy Poster

Release Date: June 6th, 1980

DVD Release Date: October 8th, 2002

PG|2 hr 15 min

Plot Summary
After moving to Pasadena, Texas, country boy Bud Davis (John Travolta) starts hanging around a bar called Gilley's, where he falls in love with Sissy (Debra Winger), a cowgirl who believes the sexes are equal. They eventually marry, but their relationship is turbulent due to Bud's traditional view of gender roles. Jealousy over his rival, Wes (Scott Glenn), leads to their separation, but Bud attempts to win Sissy back by triumphing at Gilley's mechanical bull-riding competition.

Cast: John Travolta, Debra Winger, Scott Glenn, Madolyn Smith Osborne, Barry Corbin, Brooke Alderson, Mickey Gilley, Charlie Daniels

Director: James Bridges

Genres: Drama

Production Co: Paramount Pictures

Keywords: 1970s, 1980s, Rivalry, Bar, Intense, Love, Transformation

Ratings & Reviews

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  • The film badly lacks a central narrative hook. It is too obviously a starring vehicle, and - unlike Saturday Night Fever, which did present some insights into a subculture - its major events are crudely imposed on the setting. In fact, the film's virtues derive not from Travolta at all, but from Bridges' obvious enjoyment of the country milieu, and the fine performances he wins from Travolta's co-stars. Debra Winger, as his wife, lends her part far more spirit and sympathy than the writing deserves; but the trump card is Scott Glenn as the villain, looking uncannily like a new Eastwood. show more

  • At no time is Urban Cowboy especially well-directed - Bridges, director of The China Syndrome and The Paper Chase, has yet to learn where to put a camera and when to move it. But the performances are so fresh, the dialogue so prickly and arid, and the milieu observed with such accuracy, that one's reservations regarding the cinematography, editing and a raft of other technical matters are held in check. [07 June 1980]

  • John Travolta stars as a Texas construction worker who spends his nights chasing a woman and the cowboy myth in a huge honky-tonk bar. Debra Winger is a standout as the object of Travolta's anger and affections. [11 July 1980, p.8]

See all critic reviews on metacritic.com


Nominated Best Performance By an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Nominated Most Outstanding Newcomer to Leading Film Roles
British Academy of Film & Television Arts (1980)