Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (film)

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues is a 1993 American romantic comedy-drama film based on Tom Robbins' 1976 novel of the same name. The film was directed by Gus Van Sant (credited as Gus Van Sant Jr.) and starred an ensemble cast led by Uma Thurman, Lorraine Bracco, Angie Dickinson, Noriyuki "Pat" Morita, Keanu Reeves, John Hurt, and Rain Phoenix. Robbins himself was the narrator. The soundtrack was sung entirely by k.d. lang. The film was dedicated to the late River Phoenix.

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
The poster features Uma Thurman squatting along a highway with her thumb out hitch-hiking
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGus Van Sant
Screenplay byGus Van Sant
Based onEven Cowgirls Get the Blues
by Tom Robbins
Produced by
  • Eric McLeod
  • Laurie Parker
  • Gus Van Sant
  • John J. Campbell
  • Eric Alan Edwards
Edited by
  • Curtiss Clayton
  • Gus Van Sant
Music by
Fourth Vision
Distributed byFine Line Features
Release date
  • September 13, 1993 (1993-09-13) (TIFF)
  • May 20, 1994 (1994-05-20)
Running time
96 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$8 million
Box office$1.7 million[2]


The film is a transgressive romp, covering topics from homosexuality and free love to drug use and political rebellion to animal rights, body odor, and religions. Sissy Hankshaw is a woman born with a mutation (she would not call it a defect) giving her enormously large thumbs. Sissy makes the most of her thumbs by becoming a hitchhiker. Her travels eventually take her to New York City, where she becomes a model for a homosexual feminine hygiene products mogul, known as "The Countess". A few years later, he introduces her to his "beauty ranch", the Rubber Rose Ranch. The main plot revolves around the cowgirls who work at the ranch after they violently take over and drug the endangered whooping cranes that nest along the lake on their land, making the once migratory birds stay. The cowgirls end up in a showdown with government agencies because the cranes will not leave the ranch and the cowgirls refuse to allow the men on the ranch to take the cranes. Sissy and the ranch leader, Bonanza Jellybean, have a brief love affair. After a fatal shootout between the cowgirls and the various agencies, the cranes leave, and Sissy takes over running the ranch.[3][4]



Even Cowgirls Get the Blues was shot throughout Oregon: Portland, Terrebonne, Sisters, and Bend.

Though some viewers claim that River Phoenix is visible in a brief cameo near the end of the film, director Gus Van Sant, costar Udo Kier, and Phoenix's own assistant at the time, Sue Solgot, have all asserted that Phoenix was not in the film. Van Sant further states, "River wasn't even in the desert when we shot. That is Jim Baldwin in the beekeeper's hat."[5]


The film was a critical and commercial failure. After its world premiere in September 1993 at the 1993 Toronto International Film Festival, the film was set to open, but due to the negative response, it was delayed for more editing. The picture opened in wide release on May 20, 1994, and grossed a mere $1,708,873[2] against an estimated $8 million budget.

On Rotten Tomatoes, it has an approval rating of 19% rating based on reviews from 26 critics.[6] On Metacritic the film has a score of 28% based on reviews from 16 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[7] According to film critic and historian Leonard Maltin, "The novel was hopelessly dated, and there is not enough peyote in the entire American Southwest to render this movie comprehensible or endurable...K.D. Lang's [sic] score is the picture's sole worthy component."[8]

Year-end listsEdit


Home mediaEdit

The film was released on Region 1 DVD on November 2, 2004, containing its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and on NTSC LaserDisc by Image Entertainment on November 4, 2004, also in its original aspect ratio. It received a second DVD release in the United States from UCA on April 6, 2010, now in a new cropped 1.78:1 widescreen version.

In 2007, the film received its first DVD release in the UK from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment in a 1.33:1 full frame version.


Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
Soundtrack album by
ReleasedNovember 2, 1993 (1993-11-02)
K.d. lang chronology
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
All You Can Eat
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [16]
Entertainment WeeklyB[17]
Los Angeles Times    [18]
Q     [19]
Robert Christgau [20]
Rolling Stone     [21]

The soundtrack was released on November 2, 1993 by Sire Records. k.d. lang performed the music. The album was composed by lang and Ben Mink.[22] The soundtrack went top 10 in Australia and top five in New Zealand (numbers 10 and four, respectively), and also peaked at number 82 on the Billboard 200 in the United States.[23]

  1. "Just Keep Me Moving" (3:56)
  2. "Much Finer Place" (0:51)
  3. "Or Was I" (3:07)
  4. "Hush Sweet Lover" (4:05)
  5. "Myth" (4:08)
  6. "Apogee" (0:37)
  7. "Virtual Vortex" (0:44)
  8. "Lifted by Love" (3:02)
  9. "Overture" (2:03)
  10. "Kundalini Yoga Waltz" (1:07)
  11. "In Perfect Dreams" (3:07)
  12. "Curious Soul Astray" (3:40)
  13. "Ride of Bonanza Jellybean" (1:47)
  14. "Don't Be a Lemming Polka" (2:17)
  15. "Sweet Little Cherokee" (2:48)
  16. "Cowgirl Pride" (1:47)
Chart performance
Chart (1993) Peak
Canadian RPM Country Albums 6
Canadian RPM Top Albums 47
U.S. Billboard 200 82

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "EVEN COWGIRLS GET THE BLUES (15)". Rank Film Distributors. British Board of Film Classification. July 1, 1994. Retrieved February 18, 2014.
  2. ^ a b Even Cowgirls Get the Blues at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ Brows Held High Even Cowgirls Get the Blues HD-Internet Archive
  4. ^ Dominant-paradigm-subverting Hippified Case File #137: Even Cowgirls Get the Blues-AV Club
  5. ^ Lawrence, Barry C. (2004). In Search of River Phoenix: The Truth Behind The Myth. Wordsworth Publishing.
  6. ^ "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1994)". Rotten Tomatoes.
  7. ^ "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues". Metacritic.
  8. ^ Leonard Maltin's 2010 Movie Guide (pg.423)
  9. ^ Denerstein, Robert (January 1, 1995). "Perhaps It Was Best to Simply Fade to Black". Rocky Mountain News (Final ed.). p. 61A.
  10. ^ Maslin, Janet (December 27, 1994). "CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK; The Good, Bad and In-Between In a Year of Surprises on Film". The New York Times. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  11. ^ Howe, Desson (December 30, 1994), "The Envelope Please: Reel Winners and Losers of 1994", The Washington Post, retrieved July 19, 2020
  12. ^ Travers, Peter (December 29, 1994). "The Best and Worst Movies of 1994". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
  13. ^ Webster, Dan (January 1, 1995). "In Year of Disappointments, Some Movies Still Delivered". The Spokesman-Review (Spokane ed.). p. 2.
  14. ^ Elliott, David (December 25, 1994). "On the big screen, color it a satisfying time". The San Diego Union-Tribune (1, 2 ed.). p. E=8.
  15. ^ Arnold, William (December 30, 1994). "'94 Movies: Best and Worst". Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Final ed.). p. 20.
  16. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues - k.d. lang". AllMusic. Retrieved April 18, 2013.
  17. ^ Nash, Alanna (November 5, 1993). "k.d. Scores (Even Cowgirls Get the Blues Review)". Entertainment Weekly: 67. Retrieved April 18, 2013.
  18. ^ Willman, Chris (November 7, 1993). "**1/2; k.d. lang, "Music From the Motion Picture Soundtrack 'Even Cowgirls Get the Blues'"; Sire/Warner Bros". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 18, 2013.
  19. ^ a b "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues Soundtrack CD Album". CD Universe. Retrieved April 18, 2013.
  20. ^ Christgau, Robert. "CG: k.d. lang". RobertChristgau.com. Retrieved April 18, 2013.
  21. ^ Evans, Paul (March 10, 1994). "k.d. lang: Even Cowgirls Get The Blues : Music Reviews". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on July 6, 2008. Retrieved April 18, 2013.
  22. ^ Amazon.com: Even Cowgirls Get The Blues: Music From The Motion Picture Soundtrack: Music: k.d. lang
  23. ^ "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues - Original Soundtrack". Billboard. Retrieved January 30, 2012.

External linksEdit