76 user 18 critic

Urban Cowboy (1980)

Bud is a young man from the country who learns about life and love in a Houston bar.



(story "The Ballad of the Urban Cowboy"), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
4,745 ( 841)

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 4 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Pam (as Madolyn Smith)
Brooke Alderson ...
Mickey Gilley ...
Mickey Gilley
Johnny Lee ...
Johnny Lee
Bonnie Raitt
The Charlie Daniels Band ...
The Charlie Daniels Band
Bud's Mom
Ed Geldart ...
Bud's Dad
Leah Geldart ...
Bud's Sister


Bud Davis is a country boy who moves to the city to visit his uncle and his family. He starts hanging out at Gilley's, the popular nightclub owned by Mickey Gilley himself. He takes a job at the oil refinery where his uncle works, hoping to save enough money to buy some land. He also meets a cowgirl named Sissy, they dance together, fall in love and suddenly get married. And then their marriage is shattered when Bud sees Sissy allegedly seeing con man Wes, who teaches her how to ride the mechanical bull... and plans to rob Gilley's. When a bull-riding contest at Gilley's is announced, Bud decides to sign up. Can he win the contest and save his marriage to Sissy? Written by watzdabigdeal <watzdabigdeal@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Hard hat days and honky-tonk nights.


Drama | Romance | Western


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

6 June 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Urban Cowboy  »


Box Office

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The picture was adapted into a Broadway stage production of the same name in 2003 where it played for sixty performances at the Broadhurst Theatre opening on the 28th of February and closing on the 18th of May. See more »


When Bud and Pam are at Uncle Bob's house, Uncle Bob says "We're goin' to Gilley's tonight...haven't been there since we first took you." Yes, they did take Bud to Gilley's when he first came into town, but then they were all back at Gilley's again later for Bud and Sissy's wedding. So Uncle Bob and Aunt Corine actually had been to Gilley's since they first took Bud. See more »


Sissy: My legs are sweatin', momma.
See more »


Featured in Californication: Lawyers, Guns and Money (2011) See more »


Honky Tonk Wine
Written by Mack Vickery
Performed by Mack Vickery
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Those Tough Trailer Park Rednecks
18 June 2005 | by See all my reviews

An unmarried, twenty-something hick (played by John Travolta) leaves the farm and goes to Houston, where he learns about life and love in a Texas honky-tonk. At face value, it's a modern love story ... Texas style. There's gobs of cowboy hats, pickup trucks, neon beer signs, and references to big belt-buckles and rodeos. The music, if not Texas native, is Texas adapted, courtesy of the talents of Mickey Gilley, Johnny Lee, and the Charlie Daniels Band. And that Texas twang ... "y'all".

The story and the characters are about as subtle as the taste of Texas five-alarm chili made with Jalapeno peppers. It's enough to make civilized viewers abort the film in favor of a genteel classic, one starring Laurence Olivier or Ingrid Bergman, maybe. "Hamlet" it's not. But "Urban Cowboy" is spicy and explicit, and I kinda like it.

Technically, the film is generally good. The dialogue, the production design, and the costumes are all realistic; the editing is skillful. And both the casting and the acting are commendable, if not Oscar worthy. I would not have cast Travolta in the role he plays, but he does a fine job ... ditto Debra Winger. Barry Corbin and Brooke Alderson, among others, are good too, in support roles. But, the cinematography seemed weak. The film copy I watched was grainy, and at times suffered from a reddish/orange tint, a visual trait I have noticed in other films from the same time period.

At first glance, the film does not seem to offer any social or political "message". But I would argue that when "Urban Cowboy" was released twenty-five years ago, it had rather prophetic implications. In 1980 the U.S. had all kinds of problems, not the least being American hostages held by Iran. In the minds of a lot of folks back then, the U.S. was being pushed around, bullied.

This film, along with others of its time, offered something that Americans wanted to see in their political leaders ... toughness. "Urban Cowboy" is a very physical film. The characters in it may not be the brightest people on Earth. But, they're tough!

Everything about "Urban Cowboy" is anti-intellectual. As a vehicle for cultural expression then, this 1980 film was one of several that augured a new get-tough era for the U.S. It started in 1980 with the election of Reagan. And that era continues to this day, with a President who probably will not be remembered for his intellect, but will be remembered for his toughness and aggression, traits that Americans seem to gravitate to as surely as Texans to five-alarm chili.

27 of 43 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 76 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Zach Braff on "Alex, Inc." and the Art of Directing

Zach Braff takes "The IMDb Show" behind the scenes of his new series "Alex, Inc." and reveals Morgan Freeman’s favorite on-set prank.

Watch now