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DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1 Viewer)

Michael Elliott

Senior HTF Member
Jul 11, 2003
Real Name
Michael Elliott

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues


Studio: New Line
Year: 1993
Rated: R
Film Length: 100 minutes
Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS Surround, Stereo Surround
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Retail Price: $19.95

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 proven 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.

VIDEO---The movie is shown widescreen (1.85:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 TVs. Once again we get a very good transfer up to the usual standards set by New Line several years ago. The most impressive thing is the color detail, which is very nice throughout the film. Van Sant uses all sorts of bright colors throughout the film and these are perfectly captured with the transfer. The green to the leaves to the red sofas all look remarkably well. Once the film hits the ranch the color leaves and is replaced by a desert look, which comes off quite natural as well. The dusty desert setting looks very accurate without any problems. A few scenes contain a bit of edge enhancement but this really isn’t noticeable unless you’re looking for it. There’s no print damage to be spotted.

AUDIO---We get the original Dolby Stereo track as well as a new Dolby Digital 5.1 track as well as a DTS Surround track. As I mentioned in my review of The Rapture, I really couldn’t tell any differences in the 5.1 to DTS tracks. Again, I think some of the recent DTS tracks are simply there as a selling point because there are only minor differences, which most wouldn’t pick up on while watching the film. If you sit down, concentrate and go through both tracks then you might find a difference. The two tracks aren’t that good to begin with so going through both of them would be a waste of time since I found the Stereo Surround track to be just as fulfilling. It appears both of the new remixes are simply using the Stereo track with only a few minor moments being spread out to the Surrounds. The music score packs a little more punch in the Surrounds but that’s about it. The dialogue is crystal clear and up front in all three tracks and since this is a dialogue driven film there’s really not much else here.

EXTRAS---The film’s theatrical trailer is the only extra included.

OVERALL---After sitting on the shelf for more than a year, this film finally got released and quickly hit the shelf again. Many consider this one of the worst films of the decade but it’s still gathered a small cult following. If you’re one of these cult members then you’ll be happy with the transfer New Line has given this film. It’s good to know New Line went through the trouble of remastering a film they can’t be too thrilled about.

Release Date: November 2nd, 2004

Keith I

May 23, 2004
Real Name
The movie is so bad that even the cover doesn't get screen-time! Just kidding. I've never seen the movie.

Looking at the cover elsewhere, it seems that Uma's thumb is not as big as I remember it in ads and posters when the movie first came out. Was it BOTH thumbs or just her left thumb (which is hidden on the cover)? Anyway, her "oddity" isn't on display on the cover. Or was her "oddity" on display on the cover in the first place?

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