This review is for the 40th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray released June 2, 2020.
This review is primarily for the PRODUCT and is intended to help anyone out who cannot decide whether they should purchase this edition of the movie. It is not my commentary on the film, which I don’t think most people need. That is what IMDB is for. ;-)
That being said:
My personal rating for the movie itself is 5/5.
My rating for the Blu-ray release is 5/5, but your value may vary, which is why I am reviewing this product. :) I will break it down by topic and you can skip to whatever parts you want to know about.
PICTURE QUALITY: This version is definitely a lot cleaner looking than the original DVD. The color looks to be about the same but everything is crisper and clearer. Now, whether this is vital to you, I don’t know. I have seen this movie countless (and I mean countless) times since I was a small child in the early 80’s. This is one of my top 10 favorite films. That being as it is, I have never taken issue with the somewhat grainy quality because it is the only version I have ever seen or known and have been watching for decades on TV, VHS and DVD. However, for people who have not seen this or who really enjoy a clean picture, the picture quality alone is worth the purchase. I enjoy the polished up look, too.
SUBTITLES: There are different options here than on the original DVD. Here we have English, English SDH, German and French. Note: German subtitles are not listed on the Blu-ray packaging but they are indeed there. The original DVD has English, Spanish and Brazilian subtitles.
SPECIAL FEATURES: this new Blu-ray edition has some special features that were already on the DVD and some new ones!
NEW: Good Times with Gilley: Looking Back at Urban Cowboy. This is a new 15-minute feature that is essentially Mickey Gilley reminiscing and talking about his career, Gilley’s Club and his memories from shooting Urban Cowboy. If you enjoy classic country music and like having a bit of a history lesson on that subject as well as a bit of talk about Gilley’s, then this is an interesting watch that was not on the original DVD release.
NEW: DELETED SCENES:
There are four deleted scenes included here which were not on the original DVD release.
Sissy’s folks: scene is about 3 minutes long and shows Sissy waiting at church with her parents for Bud to show up to meet them, Bud and Sissy boot shopping and then having a picnic and practicing some lasso moves. I think this scene packs a lot into its 3 minutes. We get to see Bud and Sissy dating a bit and it is a very sweet depiction. Additionally, we get a bit more of the “boys vs girls” and Bud’s pride-and-ego issues. While I think the movie does more than enough to illustrate Bud’s character and flaws without this scene, I do think the dating aspect would have added value to the film.
Wes and Steve: scene is about 1 minute long and is essentially the discussion Steve and Wes have about Wes moving into the trailer in the back behind Gilley’s. The only purpose for this scene is really to establish that Steve knows about Wes’s past and criminal status and that Wes is up front about that but also that he earned Steve’s trust only to turn on him in the end of the film. It is not a bad scene but it really makes Wes seem nice, which is odd because in every moment of his screen time in the rest of the film it is apparent that he is a menacing, dark, troubled person. This scene feels a bit out of place and I can see why it was cut. Any information established here is just as effectively established through dialogue in other scenes in the film.
Bud’s firing: scene is just over 1 and a half minutes long and consists of Bud and Uncle Bob discussing Bud being fired (temporarily) due to his broken arm and discussion about Bud’s pride and how he should, according to Uncle Bob, apologize and try to win Sissy back. This scene definitely does not add anything of value to the film, in my opinion, and actually would have detracted from an emotional scene that takes place later. Bud and Uncle Bob basically have this same conversation later in the film before Uncle Bob dies; there is no need to have it twice. The conversation before Uncle Bob’s deaths is much more impactful to the audience and meaningful and would not have been as such if that same conversation had already taken place in this earlier scene and had been left in the movie.
Bud’s new job: scene is just under 2 and a half minutes and shows Marshall visiting Bud at his new/temporary job at a drive-thru dairy/liquor store. Their discussion consists of boys vs girls on the mechanical bull talk, Marshall updating Bud on Sissy living in the trailer with Wes and her drinking too much and being at Gilley’s every single night. It also makes a point that Bud is avoiding being at Gilley’s because he gets into too much trouble there (a point also made in the previous deleted scene with Uncle Bob). This scene feels a bit out of place and again is unnecessary. As with the deleted Bud and Uncle Bob scene, all the information we get here is given to us more effectively in other scenes in the film. Keeping this would have just dragged the pace of the movie, which is over two hours as is. It was a wise decision to remove it.
OUTTAKES: The outtakes amount to about 4 minutes comprised of Debra Winger and John Travolta two-stepping and John Travolta solo dancing. This was already on the original DVD release, so nothing new here. But any day we can watch John Travolta from the 70’s or early 80’s dancing Is a good day.
REHEARSAL FOOTAGE: The rehearsal footage amounts to about 4 minutes comprised of Debra Winger practicing her “drunk sexy ride” on the mechanical bull, John Travolta practicing his riding on the mechanical bull and a simultaneously kind-of-awkward and kind-of-sexy practice session with both of them riding the bull together/at the same time. I am not sure but I would imagine this was something they considered doing in the film but realized it would be strange and would not fit in the story anywhere. This was already released on the original DVD.
The Blu-ray also comes with a digital copy of the film, redeemable through paramountmovies.com, which appears to be valid for two years
If you have never seen Urban Cowboy and are considering a purchase, this is definitely the version I would go with. If you are a die hard fan of the film, I recommend it to you as well. If you are a casual viewer and already own the DVD or have a digital copy and cannot decide whether purchasing another copy is worth your while, then I hope my review has helped you determine whether you should invest in this version.