A Real Cowboy ?
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.
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.
role may be the one which most accurately reflects Barry Corbin
in real life.
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'."