Urban Cowboy is a 1980 romance western starring John Travolta, Debra Winger, and Scott Glenn that tells the story of a torrid relationship between a man wishing to make a name for himself in Texas and a woman whose independent and feisty character gets at odds with the man’s temper and wishes.
The film’s script was an adaptation from an Esquire article and was developed by James Bridges and Aaron Latham. While the movie has the feel and looks of Saturday Night Fever —went full country music style—the vibes of the film are entirely different.
The movie is responsible for the country genre’s revival and features a soundtrack full of that genre, and today, we’re going to explore where the cast and crew decided to shoot this iconic piece of cinematography. Join us as we take a trip to the Western United States to see the Urban Cowboy filming locations.
Urban Cowboy Filming Locations
This movie is entirely shot on location in the Lone Star State, Texas. Home of all things cowboy and country. Where the Stetson white wide hat, the boots, the longhorns, and denim jeans are part of an iconic culture that’s unique to the United States.
Let’s explore some of the places where James Bridges took the photograph of this iconic 1980s movie, whose story essentially navigates the Houston metro area, where an aspiring young man wants to make enough money to go back to his quieter hometown and meet a feisty girl in the process while navigating the city’s busy nightlife with its bars, the country music and the mechanical bull rides.
Pasadena, Texas, USA
As part of the greater Houston Metropolitan Area, Pasadena is known for its vast industrial park, home to companies like Shell, Lyondell Chemical Co., and The Boeing Company.
It’s in this city where we see Sissy working at that tow truck company, where Bud and Sissy meet at that nightclub, and the dialogue scenes for the restaurant scenes in Topper’s Steakhouse
The center of the story of Urban Cowboy is one of ambition where John Travolta’s character moves from Spur to Houston, and it’s in Houston and its metropolitan area where most of the action takes place.
The cast and crew filmed several exterior shots across Houston’s iconic spots, including Main Street, where Pam’s penthouse was located.
Also, a couple of nightclubs featured in the movie, like the Uptown, are located in Houston.
Huntsville, Texas, USA
One of the most recognizable scenes in the movie is that famous mechanical bull and prison rodeo. Those scenes were shot in Huntsville. Located in the famous Walker County of the Lone Star State and founded way back in 1836 as a trading post right in the middle of the Western conquest, it doesn’t get any more cowboy than that.
It’s home to the Sam Houston State University and the infamous Texas State Prison, home of the dreaded electric chair nicknamed “Old Sparky” and the lethal injection chamber.
It’s in Huntsville where Bud and Sissy have their encounters in the rodeo and have their ups and downs during the mechanical bull rides. It’s also where Bud fights Wes Hightower.
Also Read: Urban Cowboy Cast: Then And Now
While Urban Cowboy isn’t as remembered as one of Travolta’s highest-grossing movies from the late 1970s and early 1980s —Grease and Saturday Night Fever—it remains an iconic piece of cinematography.
And through the magic of Hollywood, the film eventually became a bit of a cultural icon for showcasing the country music genre, paving the way for the revival of the genre and the success of artists like Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Janie Fricke, and Johnny Lee.
If you like the Western genre and John Travolta’s early work, be sure to stream it, it’s available on Paramount+, Amazon Prime Video, and Netflix in certain regions.
Also Read: John Travolta Dating History: Everything To Know