Urban Cowboy

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Image:Urban Cowboy.jpg Urban Cowboy is a 1980 movie starring John Travolta and Debra Winger about the love-hate relationship between Travolta's character Bud and Winger's character Sissy.

Tagline: Hard hat days and honky-tonk nights.


Plot summary

The movie starts out with Bud Davis moving to Pasadena, Texas to work at an oil refinery with his uncle Bob (Barry Corbin). Soon after moving, Bud discovers the city's nightlife, which is centered around a bar called Gilley's (a real country bar owned by country singer Mickey Gilley).

Bud meets Sissy in Gilley's, and after a quick courtship, the two get married. After the wedding, they visit the bar, where Bud learns that a mechanical bull has been installed recently. Bud forbids Sissy from riding it, though he rides it himself.

The next day while Bud is working at the refinery, Sissy goes back to bar and rides the bull. Bud tries riding the bull, but is thrown off when the man controlling the speed of the bull (Wes Hightower, played by Scott Glenn), seeking to throw him, makes the bull move too fast. The two separate.

Sissy then tries to go to bed with Wes, but stops before doing anything. Bud, though, really goes to bed with a girl he met at Gilley's, Pam (Madolyn Osborne nee Smith). The next day, Sissy returns to the trailer and finds it empty. She leaves a note for Bud to meet her at Gilley's, but Pam later hides it.

Bud, not knowing of Sissy's note, starts to train for a upcoming bullriding contest and blows Sissy off when he sees her. Sissy, angry at Bud, starts an affair with Wes, who is also planning to take part in the bullriding contest.

Finally, the day of the contest arrives, and before it Pam tells Bud that he needs to be with Sissy, and admits to the letter she hid. The contest has Bud pitted against Wes — Bud prevails. Bud and Sissy reconcile.

Other information

The movie's screenplay was adapted from a article in a men's magazine on Western nightlife written by Aaron Latham, by Latham and James Bridges. The movie was directed by Bridges. The movie spawned a hit soundtrack album featuring such songs as Johnny Lee's "Looking for Love", "Devil went down to Georgia" sung by the Charlie Daniels Band, the mega Anne Murray hit "Could I Have This Dance"(#3 A/C) and the top 5 hit "Love The World Away" by country superstar Kenny Rogers. The film is said to have started the 80's boom in country music appeal. It has been claimed that the film fared poorly at the box office, but in fact it grossed almost $54 million in the United States alone, more than Saturday Night Fever (plus a further $24,000,000 in video rentals).


  • Patrick Swayze, whose family owned a dance studio in Houston, Texas, taught Travolta how to do the two-step for the movie, while his wife (Lisa Niemi) and mother (Patsy Swayze) choreographed the dance sequences.
  • The scene where Wes chews up and swallows the worm after drinking the bottle of tequila was not scripted, but a joke done for the dailies.
  • Travolta had a mechanical bull installed in his home two months before production began and became so good that he was allowed to dismiss the stunt double and do the takes himself.
  • At the time the film was shot, Gilley's, used as the film's main nightclub location, was the largest nightclub in the world in terms of available space for the patrons, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
  • Michelle Pfeiffer auditioned for the role of Sissy.

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