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.
The film tells the story of Sissy Hankshaw, a woman born with a mutation (she would not call it a defect) giving her enormously large thumbs. The film is a transgressive romp, covering topics from homosexuality and free love to drug use and political rebellion to animal rights and body odor and religions. Sissy makes the most of her thumbs by becoming a hitchhiker. Her travels eventually take her to New York, 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 who 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 won't 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.
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues was shot throughout Oregon: Portland, Terrebonne, Sisters, and Bend.
The film was a critical and commercial failure. After its world premiere in September 1993 at the 1993 Toronto International Film Festival, the movie 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 on an estimated $8 million budget. It currently holds a 22% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
According to film critic/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 score is the picture's sole worthy component."Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress - Uma Thurman (nominated - lost to Sharon Stone for Intersection and The Specialist)
Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress - Sean Young (nominated - lost to Rosie O'Donnell for Car 54, Where Are You?, Exit to Eden and The Flintstones)
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 of 1:85.1. 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 Home Entertainment in a 1.33:1 full frame version.
The soundtrack was released on November 2, 1993 by Rhino Records. k.d. lang performed the music. The album was composed by k.d. lang and Ben Mink. The soundtrack went top 10 in Australia and top 5 in New Zealand (#10 and #4, respectively), and also peaked at #82 on the Billboard 200 in the United States.
- "Just Keep Me Moving" (3:56)
- "Much Finer Place" (0:51)
- "Or Was I" (3:07)
- "Hush Sweet Lover" (4:05)
- "Myth" (4:08)
- "Apogee" (0:37)
- "Virtual Vortex" (0:44)
- "Lifted by Love" (3:02)
- "Overture" (2:03)
- "Kundalini Yoga Waltz" (1:07)
- "In Perfect Dreams" (3:07)
- "Curious Soul Astray" (3:40)
- "Ride of Bonanza Jellybean" (1:47)
- "Don't Be a Lemming Polka" (2:17)
- "Sweet Little Cherokee" (2:48)
- "Cowgirl Pride" (1:47)