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JOHN TRAVOLTA RIDES 'URBAN COWBOY' VERSES SCOTT GLENN

John Travolta in Urban Cowboy YEAR: 1980
Another soundtrack film with John Travolta after disco and 1950's rock paid off, James Bridges' URBAN COWBOY is a character-driven, intentionally plotless melodrama with a ripped-muscular Scott Glenn as an ex-con who winds up Travolta’s rival: adding Pseudo-Sport to the genre involving a mechanical bull, bumping and grinding inside an immense Texas barroom where the title's first half derives throughout a beer-soaked, Country Music blaring, wooden-neon interior.

Before the opening credits, Travolta’s a small town guy with a nice suburban family, a cowboy hat, an unfitting beard: And thanks to his uncle, after landing a Houston-set tough guy oil rig gig and bedding down two models at the hot-spot, Gilley's, he’s quickly married to pretty barfly Debra Winger who's really more a bickering best friend, providing the two affable leads an old fashion chemistry that’s bound to fall apart at the seams...

Scott Glenn knocks a trailer's door in Urban Cowboy Rating: ***1/2
And things really begin as their relationship sours: When she learns from Glenn how to ride the bull, and he (Travolta) finds selfish solace with poor little rich girl, Madelyn Smith (she's actually a much better fit), the movie finds its groove...

With non-stop tunes readymade to both backup the story and serve a roman chorus to the inevitable, predictable conclusion, this is a country music soap opera celebrating city/country life with greasy fingers: Only Travolta doesn't exactly look like a bonafide Texan (Dennis Quaid was originally considered); and his sexist, wife-slapping jerk seems contrived to fit the usual good-old-boy cliché. But he puts his whole shallow heart into the matter, which is exactly enough here.
Scott Glenn and James Gammon in URBAN COWBOY
The "real cowboy" Scott Glenn looks on in URBAN COWBOY
A rider bites the bull in URBAN COWBOY
Jessie La Rive (interviewed here), Debra Winger & Cooper Huckabee watch John Travolta huck food at Scott Glenn
Future FUNNY FARM Madolyn Smith as the girl that deserved better in URBAN COWBOY
Debra Winger and John Travolta in URBAN COWBOY
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