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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 »

Director:

Gus Van Sant (as Gus Van Sant Jr.)

Writers:

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

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Cast

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
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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 »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

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 »

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Box Office

Budget:

$8,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$676,978, 22 May 1994

Gross USA:

$1,708,873

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,708,873
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(DVD)

Sound Mix:

Dolby | Dolby SR

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jodie Foster wanted to play the lead. See more »

Quotes

Narrator: When in doubt, keep moving. There was no road that did not expect her nor vehicle she could not command.
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 »

Connections

Referenced in The Roseanne Show: Episode #1.12 (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

Ride of Bonanza Jellybean
Written by k.d. lang and Ben Mink
Jane Hathaway's Publishing Co./Bumstead U.S. Publishing (ASCAP)
Zavion Publishing (SOCAN)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
When Gay-Friendly Film Making Goes Horribly Wrong
27 December 2005 | by Dan1863SicklesSee all my reviews

I read Tom Robbins' EVEN COWGIRLS GET THE BLUES as a teenager. I loved every word. It was sexy, funny, and full of glamorous scenery and beautiful writing. But when I saw the movie, I could not believe what a dull, sour, joyless piece of junk it was. How did this happen? I think someone in Hollywood read this book and filed it under "GAY PRIDE -- WOMEN -- LESBIANS." (That's the Library of Congress subject heading.) Now anyone over 12 who reads the book will know it has NOTHING TO DO with real lesbians, any more than STAR WARS is about real space travel. The book was obviously -- and I do mean OBVIOUSLY --written by a heterosexual male who loves the IDEA of lesbians (in the nude, all the time)but has never really met one.

Still, someone in Hollywood said, "uh oh, better give this to a Gay director or Gay People will make trouble." So they handed it to Gus Van Sant. Nothing against the man, but -- however Gay he may really be -- he has not a clue as to how to make a funny film. Gus Van Sant took a straight man's playful fantasy of guilt-free girl/girl action and male voyeurism turned it into a dull, literal-minded Lesbian Power Recruiting Poster. It's like turning an Oscar Wilde comedy into an Arthur Miller tragedy. Not pretty.

The main clue that Gus Van Sant had absolutely no idea what to do with the source material is the riotously bad casting. His clout allowed him to hire the very best. His ignorance of the novel's real subtext (a straight man's fantasy, not a gay pride recruiting poster)caused him to make choices that were not only bad, but bizarre.

Let's meet the cast of EVEN COWGIRLS GET THE BLUES.

PAT MORITA as "THE CHINK" Okay, there are few name-recognition Asian actors. And Pat Morita, in HAPPY DAYS, was fairly funny. But casting him as THE CHINK was wrong, wrong, wrong. Pat Morita has no idea that the Chink is a very funny man. (Gus didn't tell him.) Pat also doesn't seem to know that the Chink is . . . well, SEXY!!! In the book he's not wise old Mr. Miyagi. He's more like Hugh Hefner! He's a randy old goat and he knows A LOT about pleasing the nubile and responsive Sissy AND Bonanza Jellybean. (You see, in the book, they aren't REALLY lesbians. Do you get that this is a straight man's fantasy yet?)

JOHN HURT as "THE COUNTESS." Okay, he's a gay friendly man. But he is a SERIOUS, SHAKESPEAREAN ACTOR!!!! You need someone who is fun, and camp, for this role. For John Hurt to be cast as a goofy guy like the Countess is tragic and sad. I kept expecting Paul Scofield to wander in all dressed up as Thomas More, and sadly shake his head. "Now, Richard, you know you've lost your soul entirely. For shame, my former student!" And yes, John Hurt was funny (and pretty gay) as Caligula. But that was BLACK humor, not playful and breezy humor like the book.

RAIN PHOENIX as "Bonanza Jellybean." No talent, no training, no problem. Except that in the book Bonanza is funny, playful, cheerful, (mostly) heterosexual, and loving. In the movie she's sullen, passive, expressionless, and dull. As for her taste for women, Robbins in the book puts it like this. "God knows I love women, but nothing can take the place of a man that fits." Uh, Gus? Did you read this book?

UMA THURMAN as "Sissy Hankshaw." This is a tough role. In the book Sissy really is an unusually passive and timid heroine. Still, a more accomplished actress might have manufactured a twinkle in her eye, or a sway in her walk, to imply some sort of hidden strength or hidden enjoyment of her adventures. Uma doesn't pull it off, probably because Gus never told her Sissy is supposed to ENJOY being a hitch hiker with a beautiful body and giant thumbs. Uma plays it more like she's in a TV movie about a girl dying of leukemia.

This movie is sour and dull. And I accuse YOU, Gus Van Sant!


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