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Rodeo Movies

Rodeo Movie Short List

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Besides watching the standard training videos and crash tapes, sometimes you need a good rodeo movie to watch while you heal up from the weekend bumps and bruises. I searched to make a useful and comprehensive list of the rodeo movies available. It was more difficult than I thought. Hollywood has been neglecting rodeo for quite some time now. The early 90’s seemed to be a golden age with three rodeo movies being released in 1994.

Here is a list of some of the rodeo I have seen. Lets get started.

  • Colorado Cowboy: The Bruce Ford Story (1994)-
    This is an award-winning documentary that features the story of legendary bareback rider Bruce Ford, the first cowboy to win 1 million dollars. It’s a fantastic look at the reality of a rodeo cowboys life. If you don't see any other rodeo movie, see this one, I highly recommend it.

  • 8 Seconds (1994)- Staring: Luke Perry, Stephen Baldwin.
    This is perhaps the most popular rodeo movie ever made. It tells the tragic life story of bull riding icon, Lane Frost (Perry). It dramatizes the beginning of his career, his travels with equally legendary bull rider Tuff Hedeman (Baldwin), and his untimely death. It has a strong story, good acting, and some great rodeo scenes. Interesting note: Look out for a young Renee Zellweger who has a small part as one of the ‘buckle bunnies’ in a motel scene.

  • My Hero’s Have Always Been Cowboys (1991)- Starring: Scott Glenn, Kate Capshaw.
    This is good rodeo movie about a bull rider (Glenn) who returns to his former life after suffering an injury on the circuit. He meets up with a former flame (Capshaw) and tries to get his life back together. Has some good rodeo action but the scenes with the barrel bull are great. Interesting note: Kate Capshaw is also Mrs. Spielberg, wife to famous director Steven Spielberg.

  • Everything That Rises (1998)- Starring: Dennis Quaid.
    This is a TV movie, more of a contemporary western than a rodeo movie. It does have some roping sequences, which qualifies it for the list. It’s a feel good, heart-warming story about a ranching family facing some serious problems. Worth a watch in my opinion. Interesting note: Dennis Quaid also directed this movie.

  • Cowboy Way (1994)- Starring: Kiefer Sutherland, Woody Harrelson.
    This is a goofy comedic rodeo movie about two New Mexico cowboys who go to New York to save a friend. It’s light on rodeo action and does reinforce some stereotypes about cowboys, but it never fails to make me laugh. You might disagree with me on this one, but I think that it’s worth a look for the laughs.

  • Pure Country (1992)- Starring: George Strait, Leslie Ann Warren.
    What can I say? George Strait. Team Roping. Barrel Racing. E-mail me if you haven’t seen this one and please tell me what planet you’ve been on.

  • Cowboy Up (2001)- Starring: Kiefer Sutherland, Daryl Hannah.
    The now famous phrase made into a rodeo movie (although the films original title was Ring Of Fire). I really didn’t like this one at all. No story, lame rodeo sequences. Go figure? But I guess it should go on the list for you to decide for yourselves. You’re going to have to cowboy up to get through this one. Just don’t contact me wanting that two hours of your life back, you’ve been warned!

  • Junior Bonner (1972)- Starring: Steve McQueen, Robert Preston. Directed by Sam Peckinpah.
    Washed up rodeo cowboy Junior 'JR' Bonner (McQueen) returns home to Prescott, Arizona for the 4th of July rodeo, only to find his family and the west giving way to the 'modern world' and progress. It's a wonderful movie filled with interesting subtle commentary on the future of the cowboy and the west.

  • J.W. Coop (1972)- Starring: Cliff Robertson, Geraldine Page.
    Cowboy J.W. Coop (Robertson) has just been released from a long prison term and must adjust to how rodeo and the world around him has changed and left him behind. Interesting Note: Robertson co-wrote and directed this film. Also, legendary rodeo cowboy Larry Mahan makes and appearance as himself.

    One thing is for sure, there aren’t enough good rodeo movies out there. Maybe some of you cowboy/filmmakers can do something about it? Until then us rodeo fans will have to wait.

    Read the Rodeo Film List to see a collection of rodeo movies made by decade.
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