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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

The cast includes seven Oscar nominees: Sir John Hurt, Uma Thurman, Lorraine Bracco, Noriyuki "Pat" Morita, Carol Kane, Buck Henry, and Edward James Olmos. It'd be eight if River Phoenix's cameo was confirmed. See more »

Quotes

The Countess: All of us are freaks in one way or another. Try being born a male Russian Countess into a white, middle class, Baptist family in Mississippi, and you'll see what I mean.
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

Gus Van Sant's original version was first shown at the Toronto Film Festival in 1993 before the film was pulled at his own request and reworked. The most significant differences are described in a N.Y.Times article from May 15 1994: "The New York scenes, and Sissy's relationship with an urbanized Mohawk Indian (played by Keanu Reeves), were cut back in the interest of beefing up the ranch scenes and focusing more attention on the relationship between Sissy and Bonanza Jellybean, a straight-shooting cowgirl played by Rain Phoenix. The novelist William Burroughs survived the editing. Audiences will see him cross a Manhattan street, look at the traffic and utter three syllables: "Ominous." Roseanne Arnold, however, will see her cameo as a gypsy fortuneteller whittled down to a mini-cameo. Most dramatically, Mr. Van Sant shed an entire subplot, about the mysterious Clock People, keepers of the keys to cosmic consciousness, and the source of the original film's final image (as well as the clock on the paperback cover). In the first version, Sissy became pregnant after making love to the Chink, a loony visionary played by Pat Morita, who tells her she will bear a race of large-thumbed children who will roam the earth in love and peace after surviving an apocalypse. In the final frames of "Cowgirls I," Sissy's child, seen in the womb, makes hitchhiking gestures toward the audience, an invitation to the future." Van Sant is quoted in the article, that he doesn't know which version is better. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Sugarcube Critic: Elements of Harmony (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Hush Sweet Lover
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

Poor
14 March 2008 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1993)

* (out of 4)

Sissy Hankshaw (Uma Thurman) had a bad joke played on her when she was born and that is the fact she was born with two huge thumbs. Her parents feared she'd never get married or amount to anything in life but one day her father makes a joke that she'd make a good hitchhiker. Sissy takes that advice and heads off in the world thumbing a ride to wherever she can get. As a teenager Sissy finds a modeling job in NYC for feminine hygiene advertisement, which claims she smells as good as she looks.

After being the champ of feminine hygiene for five years running, Sissy finds herself back on the road traveling across the country. She eventually gets a phone call from the drag queen known as The Countess (John Hurt) who has managed to get her a new job up in Oregon.

This job is working on a ranch, which has been taken over by a group of cowgirls who seem to be fighting exploitation. With Sissy there, the girls have a new fighter as well as possible lover.

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues is based on a novel from Tom Robbins, which I haven't read.

Perhaps had I read it I would have understood what this film was trying to say or trying to be about but as it is, I really have no idea. My only guess is that director Gun Van Sant was trying to recapture the exploitation films of the 1970's like Beyond the Valley of the Dolls but he fails miserably here and makes a film that's a bigger disgrace than his future remake of Psycho.

The biggest joke running throughout the film is the stuff dealing with feminine hygiene and the fact that Sissy smells better than any other woman around. This stuff here is simply unfunny and I'm sure many would be offended by this humor. Since it's doesn't work and manages to be somewhat offensive I've got to wonder who this humor was meant to entertain. The other big joke is the huge thumbs, which lead to various dialogue scenes dealing with the joys of hitchhiking but once again, who in the world is suppose to find that entertaining? I've always enjoyed watching Uma Thurman because she's one of the most enlightening actresses out there. She can certainly handle comedy, which was proved in Mad Dog and Glory but it's clear she has no idea what to do with the material given to her. There's not a single moment in the film where I believed this was a real character and instead of any insight we are given two fake looking props to tell her story. What attracted her to this project is anyone's guess but what's even worse is the fact that the director got an all-star cast to appear in the film. Lorraine Bracco, Keanu Reeves, Crispin Glover, Angie Dickinson, Sean Young, Heather Graham and Roseanne are among the many familiar faces and none of them bring anything to their roles. My only guess is that these folks forgot to read the script and just thought the idea of being in a cameo would be cool.

I remember watching this film opening day in Louisville, KY where the theater was fairly packed Before the movie opened you could tell there was a loud buzz about the film due to the director's previous films, which included Drugstore Cowboy. As soon as the film started you could feel that entire buzz leave the theater and for the next two hours there was a complete silence that was rather haunting. No one was fascinated by what they were seeing but instead every single person was in a state of shock. Was this film some kind of job? Did Van Sant make a bad film on purpose? That's my only guess because there's nothing going good for this turkey, which would give anyone the blues.


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