You A Real Cowboy ?

 John Travolta traded disco for a mechanical bull in this adaptation by James Bridges and Aaron Latham of Latham's article on Western nightlife. Texas country boy Bud (Travolta) moves to Houston to work on an oil rig with his Uncle Bob (Barry Corbin), and he swiftly becomes indoctrinated in the nighttime rituals of drinking, dancing, and showing off cowboy duds at Gilley's, the enormous local honkytonk. There he meets and marries the sassy Sissy (Debra Winger), but the honeymoon quickly ends when Sissy starts spending too much time learning the men-only skill of mechanical bull-riding from ex-con Wes (Scott Glenn); Bud throws her out and hooks up with slumming Pam (Madolyn Smith). Under the paternal tutelage of Uncle Bob, Bud then learns not only how to master the bull but also what it takes to be a real man rather than just an ersatz cowboy.


Uncle Bob. Barry plays Bud's (John Travolta) uncle, Bob Evans, a dedicated oil rig worker and former bull riding champion. Bob welcomes Bud in his house in Houston, and later not only does he teach him how to ride the mechanical bull, but also the importance of settling down and forming a family.
This role may be the one which most accurately reflects Barry Corbin in real life.

Barry's commentary: "Urban Cowboy was my first movie. When I went to audition, I was wearing old jeans, beat-up boots and a stained hat. When the producers said they were going to use the boots and the hat in the movie, I thought I didn't get the part and they were playing a con game to get my clothes. I didn't know I got the part until I had another job and they called me back. John (Travolta) gave me some pointers, which helped. Most of my career had been on the stage at that point, so this was all new to me. It was my first movie, and my son (Jim) was born just before we started filming, so it will always be special. He still has the T-shirt we bought him from Gilley's that says 'Uncle Bob's baby'."


BUD : This place is bigger than my whole hometown!
UNCLE BOB : Yeah, it's the biggest honky-tonk in the world.

UNCLE BOB : Oh! Hey man, Corene found this while she was going through some old boxes the other day. I won that for bull riding in '64.
BUD : God, I didn't know you won first place.
BUD : Look at that. I think you would've been better than Larry Mahan, hadn't been for that accident. He was in the hospital for nearly a year.
UNCLE BOB : I fell off in the chute. The bull stomped me pretty good. I got a plastic bone here in my leg, a plastic plate up here in my head...How well do you know this pretty lady?
BUD : Go ahead, tell her.
UNCLE BOB : One plastic nut! (chuckles).
BUD : He bullshits a lot but he's telling the truth!

UNCLE BOB : Bud, in some ways, a bull like this is harder to ride than a real one. With a real one you can always watch his head and see which way he's apt to move, but with one of these, the treachery of the bull just depends on the treachery of the man operating the controls. 

UNCLE BOB: f you want to ride this thing right, you got to learn to ride it with style and form because you're competing against real bull riders, not just mechanical bull riders, do you understand? I can tell you how to score points. I can't show you because I'm too fat, but I can tell you. If you listen to me you'll win, if you don't, you won't. OK?

UNCLE BOB : That's it! Yeah! Yeah! Keep kickin'! Bud, that's what you're going to be judge on, your style. Good! Good! Yeah! You know, you got to do more than stay on to win a rodeo. You got to have flair! KICK IT! SPUR! NOW KEEP THAT HAND UP!
BUD: That better?

UNCLE BOB : WHOO! Damn good! That's damn good, Bud!
BUD: Thanks, Dwight.
UNCLE BOB : Bud, the only thing I can tell you now is to go out and hang around Gilley's and watch that fella run that bull out there.
BUD: That sounds like a good idea.

BUD : Uncle Bob!
UNCLE BOB : Hey Bud!
BUD : How you feeling?
UNCLE BOB : Oh, real good. You stopped off at Gilley's?
BUD : No, I wanted to, but Pam didn't wake me up on time. I was so god damn mad, I'll tell you. I don't know, I guess she just don't want me being where Sissy is. I saw Sissy today.
UNCLE BOB : Oh, yeah? What did she say?
BUD : Well, not very much. She gave me the finger, I gave her the finger. Well, I guess it's over. I don't know.
UNCLE BOB : You know, Bud. Sometimes even a cowboy's got to swallow his pride and hold on to somebody he loves.
BUD : What do you mean?
UNCLE BOB : Hell, I know. I pretty near lost Corene and the kids a couple of times just 'cause of pride. You think that old pride's going to choke you going down, but I'll tell you what. Ain't a night goes by I don't thank the boss up there for giving me a big enough throat. Cause without Corene and them kids, hell I'd be just another old pile of dog shit just drawing flies.
BUD : (Chuckling) Yeah, I guess so.
UNCLE BOB : Think about it, Bud. Pride's one of them seven deadlies. You know what I mean?




Release Date
  • 1980.
  • Drama.
Directed By
  • James Bridges.

Executive Producers

  • C.O. Erickson.

Produced By

  • Robert Evans.
  • Irving Azoff.


  • Paramount Pictures.

Running Time

  • 2 Hours 15 Minutes.

Filming Locations

  • Houston, Texas.
  • Pasadena, Texas.


Main Cast

  • John Travolta as Bud Davis.

  • Debra Winger as Sissy.

  • Scott Glenn as Wes.

  • Madolyn Smith as Pam.

  • Barry Corbin as Uncle Bob Davis.

  • Brooke Alderson as Aunt Corene.

  • Cooper Huckabee as Marshall.

  • James Gammon as Steve Strange.

MPAA Rating

  • PG.

Publicity Stills




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