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Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1993)

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Sissy Hankshaw (Uma Thurman) is born with enormous thumbs that help her hitchhiking through the U.S. from a young age. She becomes a model in advertising, and her New York agent, "the ... See full summary »


Gus Van Sant (as Gus Van Sant Jr.)


Tom Robbins (novel), Gus Van Sant (screenplay)
4 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Uma Thurman ... Sissy Hankshaw
Lorraine Bracco ... Delores Del Ruby
Pat Morita ... The Chink (as Noriyuki 'Pat' Morita)
Angie Dickinson ... Miss Adrian
Keanu Reeves ... Julian Gitche
John Hurt ... The Countess
Rain Phoenix ... Bonanza Jellybean
Ed Begley Jr. ... Rupert
Carol Kane ... Carla
Sean Young ... Marie Barth
Crispin Glover ... Howard Barth
Roseanne Barr ... Madame Zoe (as Roseanne Arnold)
Buck Henry ... Dr. Dreyfus
Grace Zabriskie ... Mrs. Hankshaw
Treva Jeffryes Treva Jeffryes ... Young Sissy


Sissy Hankshaw (Uma Thurman) is born with enormous thumbs that help her hitchhiking through the U.S. from a young age. She becomes a model in advertising, and her New York agent, "the Countess" (Sir John Hurt), sends her to his ranch in California to shoot a commercial, set against the background of mating whooping cranes. There, she befriends Bonanza Jellybean (Rain Phoenix), one of the cowgirls at the beauty ranch. The cowgirls take command of the ranch from the Countess and drug the cranes with peyote. The Police besiege the ranch. Written by Pieter van Scherpenberg <mediavis@netland.nl>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


There have been many great drivers but only one great passenger.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexuality and some language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »





English | German

Release Date:

20 May 1994 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Até as Vaqueiras Ficam Tristes See more »

Filming Locations:

Terrebonne, Oregon, USA See more »


Box Office


$8,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$676,978, 22 May 1994

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:

Dolby | Dolby SR



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Jodie Foster wanted to play the lead. See more »


Sissy Hankshaw: [reading a road sign] If it's sloppy, says The Chink, best to eat it over the sink.
See more »

Crazy Credits

At the beginning, lot of stars rise in the sky. One, aside and slower than the others, writes the words "For River". [River Phoenix] See more »

Alternate Versions

After a disastrous limited distribution in 1993, the film was recalled and heavily re-edited for a 1994 re-release. See more »


Referenced in iZombie: Even Cowgirls Get the Black and Blues (2015) See more »


This Guy's in Love with You
Written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David
Blue Seas Music, Inc. and Jac Music Co., Inc. (ASCAP)
Performed by Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass
Courtesy of A&M Records, Inc.
See more »

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User Reviews

crap on a stick. crap on toast. crap plus crap.
26 April 2003 | by xairhilSee all my reviews

i love this book. i think it may be my favorite among the robbins books ive read. but shit -oh-goodness, that movie was total crap. i have to tell anyone reading this review... i stopped midway through. i just plain couldnt take it. anyways, in an effort to clarify why it was so crappy, lets start at the beginning: Uma. uma dear, the character's personality does not rely on her accent. and perhaps this is my personal interpretation of the book, but you seem a bit weak-hearted for sissy; sissy in my mind had a reverberating presence. shes not rough-and-tough like bonanza, but is instead a pleasant mix of curiosity, fertility, wisdom and ignorance; everythign a strong robbins female lead should turn out to be. i simply didnt get the impression that you did justice to the depths of her personality... nor did the other actors to their respective roles, really... and a comment on casting: the sallow-faced, sunken-eyed, limp-haired uma did not fit at all with the pink-cheeked, sparkle-eyed, wind-tossed hair sissy that mr robbins seemed to convey. it dampens sissys chacterization even more. i know having a big name as a lead helps it get seen, but um. come on. put some spunk in her.

Next: rain phoenix, where the heck is your zing!? you *cant* be bonanza and *not* have an unquenchable thirst for life, excitement, and dare! it felt like you were on pot or prozac. get INto it. this would be an inCREDibly fun role to play, but youve GOT to have fun. bonanza *knows* things; shes a step or two down from the chink, but occasionally shes somewhere on his level, and you need to recognize that. she has a thirst for life because shes smart enough to do so; she PLAYS GAMES with life because, well, why the heck not? Third: delores: wheres the badass from the beginning? right away you let out the coke-fiendish interp. of this gal, and thats not how robbins set it up. get that badass up front; we are not supposed to know you right off the bat. you need to gradually reveal yourself, not right from the start. delores is full of mystery and black clouds; her whip is like a tantalizing c'mere-and-figgure-me-out cat's (or snake's) tail or something. yes, you do convey parts of delores' personality we learn of later in the book, but slow down girl. Fourth: the rest of you guys. i guess the chink was okay, but not as vulgar as he should be. i know intruducing vulgarity into the movie would *really* screw with the minds of the masses coming to see uma, and eh, itd probably scare em a bit. but um. wouldnt that be kindof fun? :) anyways, one constant theme through mr robbins' books is that sex is HUMAN, and GOOD, and ohhhh. yum. (this is more to the director...) you give us a few scenes, but you cut things out (julian? husband? hello?) or shorten them (scene with the couple in julians apt) or hide them (the chink looking on the girls making out from afar rather than from their own eyes). i know you dont want it to cross into the realm of pornography, but well. sheesh. to the director: dangit man. try again. and not a movie, maybe a television series or something. maybe just a series, screw the tv crap. but to make this movie successful, you really do need almost all of the substance of the book to shine forth. you cant take things out ad-hock... im sure it wasnt all that random, but the deletions you made did seem inappropriate; the lack of important information created a throughly disjointed feel. if you wanted to make a movie out of a robbins book, you probably really liked the book, and probably had a really good idea of what each character seemed to be. well, fer cripes sake, stick to yer guns. find people who you know fit the roles; encourage them to READ THE BOOK... infact, make it mandatory... maybe read it with the cast like it was an english class, so you get class discussions and debates going back and forth. it should be a learning experience and rocking fun time for the actors, the crew, and the director... and it *should* be somethin similar for the viewers too. thats my two cents.

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