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City Slickers

City Slickers film poster
Directed by Ron Underwood
Produced by Billy Crystal
Irby Smith
Written by Lowell Ganz
Babaloo Mandel
Starring Billy Crystal
Bruno Kirby
Daniel Stern
Patricia Wettig
Helen Slater
Jack Palance
Music by Marc Shaiman
Cinematography Dean Semler
Editing by O. Nicholas Brown
Studio Castle Rock Entertainment
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (DVD)
Release date(s) United States June 7, 1991
Running time 112 min.
Country  United States
Language English
Budget $26,000,000[1]
Gross revenue $124,034,000 (U.S.)[2][3]
Followed by City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's Gold (1994)

City Slickers is a 1991 comedy film directed by Ron Underwood and starring Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern, Helen Slater, Jack Palance and Bruno Kirby.

The film is number 73 on Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies" and number 86 on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs.

In 1994 the film was followed by the sequel City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's Gold, with Jon Lovitz taking the place of Bruno Kirby. It was not received as well as the original.



Mitch (Billy Crystal) has just turned 39 years old, and is thick in the middle of a midlife crisis. His best friends are also having midlife crises of their own. Phil (Daniel Stern) is stuck managing his father-in-law's grocery store, while trapped in a sexless marriage with an overbearing wife (who leaves him after it is revealed Phil is having an affair). Ed (Bruno Kirby) is a successful businessman and playboy, struggling with the idea of monogamous marriage and the pressure to have kids.

At Mitch's birthday party, Phil and Ed present their joint gift: a two-week Southwestern cattle drive for all three men. After his wife insists he go, Mitch accepts the gift and travels to New Mexico, where the three men meet the several other participants of the cattle drive. The men slowly "learn the ropes" of moving a herd and even have a tense encounter with the two professional cowboys (T.R. and Jeff) who work the drive while being drunk. The encounter is stopped with the arrival of Curly (Jack Palance), the wisened, tough-as-nails trail boss, who chastises the cowboys for being intoxicated on the job and warns them strongly not to let it happen again.

Curly, the cowboys, and all the participants begin the long drive to Colorado. Mitch and Curly immediately dislike one another after Curly inadvertently humiliates Mitch, and while Mitch fairly gets along with the majority of the others, opinions get worse when he inadvertently causes a destructive stampede. Afterwards, Curly and Mitch ride alone in the canyons to find some stray cows, and after being forced to spend the night alone, the two finally bond with one another. The next morning, Curly and Mitch are forced to deliver a calf in the wilderness. After the mother cow dies (Curly delivered the Coup de Grace by shooting the mother cow in the head to stop her dying painfully), Mitch adopts the calf and names it "Norman." The two then rejoin the main drive.

The drive runs into trouble shortly afterwards, when Curly dies unexpectedly. Cookie the cook gets drunk and breaks both his legs, requiring him to be taken to a hospital by two participants. T.R. and Jeff discover Cookie's booze stash and, with Curly not around, quickly become very drunk, leading to another dangerous encounter with Mitch, Phil and Ed. The cowboys are disarmed by Phil after he snaps under a near-lifetime stress. Though Phil urges the cowboys to "sleep it off," they abandon the group in the wilderness, leaving them with no trail boss or map. The remaining individuals decide to abandon the herd and seek civilization. Phil and Ed, driven by determination to succeed, persist in driving the herd to Colorado, despite the pleas of Mitch to reconsider. The next day, the others ride on, but later Mitch returns unexpectedly (wearing Curly's notable black hat) to join his fellow "city slickers" in completing the drive.

The final test of the drive means crossing a dangerous river. The men drive the herd across the river during a storm, but Norman starts to drown. Mitch rescues him with a lasso (something he did not master previously in the story) but gets caught in the rapids. Phil and Ed race down the bank and save Mitch and Norman. The men smile on the river bank, all having overcome their crises. The three lead the herd back successfully to the Colorado ranch, where they learn, to their slight dismay, that the ranch owner, Clay Stone, intends to sell the cows to a meat company for a huge profit. Mitch returns to his family in New York a happy man, promising to live a more meaningful life. In addition, Mitch spares Norman from slaughter by purchasing him and bringing the calf home as a pet.



The film received mostly positive reviews with a "Fresh" score of 88% on Rotten Tomatoes.[4] Jack Palance, for his role as Curly, took home the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, the only Oscar nomination the film received. His acceptance speech for the award is best remembered for his demonstration of one-armed pushups (when he told of how film insurance agents were constantly making him prove he was healthy enough to work on the film.)

Awards and honors

American Film Institute recognition

  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture for Jack Palance at the 1992 Golden Globe Awards Won
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical for Billy Crystal at the 1992 Golden Globe Awards Nomination
  • Best Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical at the 1992 Golden Globe Awards Nomination

In popular culture


  1. ^ DVD & film details giving "an estimated budget of $26 million". Retrieved 10 July 2008.
  2. ^ City Slickers - Box Office Data, Movie News, Cast Information at The Numbers. Retrieved 10 July 2008.
  3. ^ City Slickers (1991) Box office / business at Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 10 July 2008.
  4. ^ City Slickers at Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 10 July 2008.

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

City Slickers is a 1991 comedy about a man dealing (poorly) with a midlife crisis upon the advent of his 39th birthday.

Written by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, and directed by Ron Underwood.


Mitch Robbins

  • I'm 39 , and I'm saying "Moo, cow!" in a river!
  • Let's bring out the cake!
  • Women need a reason for having sex, men just need a place.
  • [to a classroom full of children on Career Day] Value this time in your life kids, because this is the time in your life when you still have your choices, and it goes by so quickly. When you're a teenager you think you can do anything, and you do. Your twenties are a blur. Your thirties, you raise your family, you make a little money and you think to yourself, "What happened to my twenties?" Your forties, you grow a little pot belly you grow another chin. The music starts to get too loud and one of your old girlfriends from high school becomes a grandmother. Your fifties you have a minor surgery. You'll call it a procedure, but it's a surgery. Your sixties you have a major surgery, the music is still loud but it doesn't matter because you can't hear it anyway. Seventies, you and the wife retire to Fort Lauderdale, you start eating dinner at two, lunch around ten, breakfast the night before. And you spend most of your time wandering around malls looking for the ultimate in soft yogurt and muttering "how come the kids don't call?" By your eighties, you've had a major stroke, and you end up babbling to some Jamaican nurse who your wife can't stand but who you call mama. Any questions?
  • [singing] Rollin', rollin', rollin', keep them dogies rollin', man my ass is swollen, Rawhide! Get 'em up, move 'em out, wake 'em up, get 'em dressed, get 'em shaved, comb their hair, Rawhide! Tie me down, tell me lies, pull my hair, smack my thighs - with a big wet strap of, Rawhide!
  • [to a Spanish doctor treating a puncture wound on his buttock] Excuse me, el doctor! Hello...? Don't sew anything up that's supposed to remain open, OK?

Ed Furillo

  • No, that was "I like your ass; can I wear it as a hat?".
  • These cows didn't trust us! They followed us because we yelled "hee-yah!".
  • What'd ya use for protection, Phil; paper or plastic?

Phil Berquist

  • If hate were people, I'd be China!!
  • Now can we have some peace and quiet around here?! I'm tired! I lost my wife, I lost my job, and I'm developing some kind of rash from making in the bushes!
  • [at Curly's impromptu funeral] The man ate bacon at every meal... you just can't do that!


  • I crap bigger than you.
  • You're spookin' the cattle.
  • She a redhead? I like redheads.

Clay Stone

  • Great gobs of goose shit!
  • I feel as happy as a puppy dog with two peters.
  • When you three first got here, you were as worthless as hen shit on a pump handle. But look at ya now; a bunch of tenderfeet bringin' in a whole herd!


Arlene: Why is she telling you this, Phil?
Phil: Because... because I'm her boss! And... we have a health plan!
Arlene: Oh, this is rich - you scored this little girl in my father's store?
Phil: No... no! No!
Nancy: It was in his car!
Arlene: Get out of this house, you little
   Nancy    I'm not a little girl im 20
Phil: Hey! I will not permit you to talk to her that way.
Arlene: Fine. I'll tell my father what you did!
Phil: Do not call Mr Levine! Hey! Give me that phone...
[struggles to take the phone from her]
Arlene: You're crazy!
Phil: That's right - not having sex for 12 years will do that to a person!
[she breaks the phone]
Arlene: I'll call from the bedroom.
Phil: The bedroom? How the hell would you know where the bedroom is?
Arlene: I'm calling...
Phil: Go ahead, call him - I'm sure he's home. It's his night to be out with the other escaped Nazis!
Arlene: I hate you!
Phil: I hate you more! If hate were people, I'd be China!
Mitch: [awkward pause] Let's bring out the cake!

Barbara: Go ahead, go with Phil and Ed. Find your smile.
Mitch: What if I can't?
Barbara: [sighs] We'll jump off that bridge when we get to it.

Mitch: I wish you hadn't worn this jacket.
Ed: What's wrong with it?
Mitch: Well, look at it; it's got your name and your picture on it. It's a little grotesque.
Ed: I'm proud of what I do.
Phil: So is the President; he doesn't wear his picture on his suit.
Ben Jessup: Hi.
Mitch: [shakes Ben's hand] Hi, Mitch Robbins.
Ed: I'm Ed Furillo; I sell sporting goods.
Mitch: Show him your jacket.
Phil: I'm Phil Berquist. I committed adultery; lost my job and my family.
Mitch: His jacket's being made.

Mitch: [to Phil] Feel like a schmuck?
Phil: Oh yeah, big schmuck; big schmuck!

Ed: This guy, Curly, is a true cowboy. One of the last real men. He's untamed. Next to him, we're trained ponies. It'll do us good to be in his world for a while.
[Curly is approaching them from behind Mitch]
Mitch: Do us good? Didn't you guys see? The man was hanging the hired help! And, did you notice his eyes? He has crazy eyes. He's a lunatic! We are going into the wilderness being led by a lunatic!
[Mitch notices everyone's terrified faces as Curly is standing directly behind him]
Mitch: He's behind me, isn't he?
[Phil and Ed nod, then hurry away as Mitch turns slowly to face Curly]
Mitch: [frightened] I'm sorry; I didn't mean anything by it!
Curly: [amused] I crap bigger than you.

Mitch: So, what was your best day, Phil?
Phil: Believe it or not, my wedding day.
Ed: You're kidding!
Phil: No, seriously! Arlene looked great; those water pills really helped. I looked out and saw my old man sitting there, and he winked at me. It was like, I've made it. I'm not a goofball anymore.
Mitch: What was your worst day?
Phil: Every day since is a tie.

Mitch: Alright Ed, your best day, what was it? Twins in a trapeze, what?
Ed: No, I don't wanna play.
Mitch: C'mon, we did it.
Ed: I don't feel like it.
Mitch: Uh, okay.
[Ed pauses, then begins to speak]
Ed: I'm fourteen and my mother and father are fighting again. Y'know, because she caught him again. Caught him; this time the girl drove by the house to pick him up. And I finally realized, he wasn't just cheating on my mother, he was cheating us. So I told him; I said "You're bad to us. We don't love you. I'll take care of my mother and my sister. We don't need you any more." And he made like he was gonna hit me, but I didn't budge. And he turned around and he left. He never bothered us again. Well, I took care of my mother and my sister from that day on. That's my best day.
Phil: What was your worst day?
Ed: [brief pause] Same day.

[Mitch and Ed are watching Bonnie ride by on a horse; Ed is leering at her buttocks]
Ed: Man, that saddle sure is having a lot of fun.
Mitch: You have like a half track mind, don't you?
Ed: Oh, come on. Are you telling me you wouldn't like to screw her brains out?
Mitch: You know, that's such a lovely image - "screw her brains out." It ranks right up there with that other classic: "bang the shit out of her."

[Mitch, Ed, Phil and Bonnie are sitting on bedrolls discussing which is more interesting, women discussing relationships or men discussing baseball]
Ed: That's easy; we win.
Bonnie: [laughs incredulously] How can you say that?
Ed: Because honey, if that stuff were half as interesting as baseball, they'd have cards for it and sell it with gum.

Curly: Pay attention, girls; we got strays!
Mitch: Hi Curly. Killed anybody today?
Curly: [smiling] Day ain't over yet.

[Mitch is alone by a campfire with Curly. After several moments of tense conversation, Mitch has produced a harmonica and is playing Drifting Along (With the Tumbling Tumbleweeds).]
Curly: Put that away.
[Mitch stops momentarily, then resumes playing.]
Curly: I said, put that away!
Mitch: Hey you know, the first time I tried to talk to you, you embarrassed me. So I teased you a little bit which maybe I shouldn't have done, so I'm sorry. And now you're sitting over there playing with your knife, trying to frighten me; which you're doing a good job... But if you're gonna kill me, get on with it; if not, shut the hell up; I'm on vacation.

Mitch: It's nothing to be ashamed of - I had the same problem.
Phil: Didn't you feel stupid; I mean, didn't you feel... inadequate?
Mitch: Yeah, for a while, but then I overcame it. Can I explain it to you again? I mean now promise me you won't get upset.
Phil: O.K.; it's not gonna to do any good.
Mitch: O.K., if you want to watch one show but record another show at the same time, the television set does not have to be on channel 3.
Phil: Yeah it does.
Mitch: No it doesn't.
Phil: It does!
Mitch: No, if you're watching what you're recording, then it has to be on 3.
Phil: What... the TV or... or the machine?
Mitch: The TV.
Phil: You're saying I can record something I'm not even watching?
Mitch: Yes, that's the point. You don't even need a TV to record.
Phil: How would I see it?
Mitch: Well to see it you need a TV.
Ed: Shut up! Just shut up! He doesn't get it! He'll never get it! It's been 4 hours! The cows can tape something by now! Forget about it, please!
Phil: [to Mitch, after a brief pause] How do you do the clock?
Ed: [starts chasing Phil] You're dead! You are dead!

Mitch: You know what just occurred to me? Roping is stupid. This is a cow, not a gazelle, watch. Get off the horse, huh? Ok. And then you walk up to the cow. Look at how good this is working. Then you say "Hi. I'm Bob Vila with 'This Old Herd.' We're going to rope you today." Then you take Mr. Loop and put it around the head of Mr. Cow. [Mitch dismounts, walks up to the cow and puts the loop of lasso around its head] Now what's wrong with that?
[Curly whistles and the cow takes off running, dragging Mitch helplessly behind it]
Curly: That!

Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is? [points index finger skyward] This.
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don't mean shit.
Mitch: But, what is the "one thing?"
Curly: [smiles and points his finger at Mitch] That's what you have to find out.

[Curly has died of a heart attack. The remaining party has buried him in a shallow grave and is holding an impromptu memorial service]
Mitch: What can we say about Curly...
T.R.: Cookie, you knew him best; why don't you say somethin'?
Cookie: Lord, we give you Curly. Try not to piss him off. [the rest of the group balks] Well, what else do you want me to say? I got chicken burnin'!

Mitch: I'm gonna be okay, because I finally know what he was talking about.
Ed: Who?
Mitch: Curly. I know what he meant when he said there's just one thing that's really important.
Ed: So what is it?
Mitch: That's what you have to figure out.
Ed: [laughing] I'm gonna deck you, pal!
Mitch: No, that's it; it's something different for everyone. For me, when I was in that river, I was only thinking about one thing. The rest of it just all went away.

[Mitch's family has picked him up at the airport; he is hugging his children as Barbara walks up]
Mitch: Hey, look what I found! [points to his mouth and smiles broadly]
Barbara: Ooh, that looks nice. Where did you find that?
Mitch: [feigning exasperation] Colorado! Isn't it always in the last place you look?

Tag Line

  • Yesterday they were businessmen; today they are cowboys; tomorrow they'll be walking funny.


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