City Slickers (1991)

PG-13 | 110 mins | Comedy, Western | 7 June 1991

Director:

Ron Underwood

Producer:

Irby Smith

Cinematographer:

Dean Semler

Production Designer:

Lawrence G. Paull

Production Company:

Castle Rock Entertainment
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HISTORY

       Pre-production began 15 May 1990, according to the 6 Jan 1991 LAT, with riding and roping lessons for Crystal and his co-stars. A 7 Aug 1990 HR production chart indicated that Ron Underwood had signed to direct the picture, which was set to go before cameras 11 Sep 1990. Five days before the start of principal photography, DV announced that Rick Moranis had bowed out of the film and been replaced by Daniel Stern. Crystal recalled in The Week that Stern “arrived the day before shooting started and never had time to train on his horse.” Production notes in AMPAS library files indicate that principal photography began at Steward Ranch near Durango, CO. A 21 Sep 1990 HR news brief stated that filmmakers planned to spend two months in and around Durango. The three lead actors performed much of their own stunt work, including bringing the cattle down a steep hillside and across a river. As noted in The Week, Jack Palance joined the cast after five weeks of filming, spending ten days with Billy Crystal to complete their scenes together as Curly and “Mitch Robbins.”
       Various contemporary sources, including the 23 Jun 1991 Long Beach Press-Telegram, remarked on the scene in which Curly coaches Mitch through the birth of the calf, “Norman.” The special effects team built a “puppet” version of an adult cow’s hindquarters, as well as small “puppet” Normans. Crystal practiced pulling the mock-ups through a piece of PVC piping, before shooting the scene in one take with a six-day-old calf that had been covered in clear jelly, as noted ... More Less

       Pre-production began 15 May 1990, according to the 6 Jan 1991 LAT, with riding and roping lessons for Crystal and his co-stars. A 7 Aug 1990 HR production chart indicated that Ron Underwood had signed to direct the picture, which was set to go before cameras 11 Sep 1990. Five days before the start of principal photography, DV announced that Rick Moranis had bowed out of the film and been replaced by Daniel Stern. Crystal recalled in The Week that Stern “arrived the day before shooting started and never had time to train on his horse.” Production notes in AMPAS library files indicate that principal photography began at Steward Ranch near Durango, CO. A 21 Sep 1990 HR news brief stated that filmmakers planned to spend two months in and around Durango. The three lead actors performed much of their own stunt work, including bringing the cattle down a steep hillside and across a river. As noted in The Week, Jack Palance joined the cast after five weeks of filming, spending ten days with Billy Crystal to complete their scenes together as Curly and “Mitch Robbins.”
       Various contemporary sources, including the 23 Jun 1991 Long Beach Press-Telegram, remarked on the scene in which Curly coaches Mitch through the birth of the calf, “Norman.” The special effects team built a “puppet” version of an adult cow’s hindquarters, as well as small “puppet” Normans. Crystal practiced pulling the mock-ups through a piece of PVC piping, before shooting the scene in one take with a six-day-old calf that had been covered in clear jelly, as noted by the American Humane Association’s movie review. To maintain the calf’s size throughout the balance of filming, several sets of calves were brought in to portray Norman. The young animals were typically allowed only one take before trading places. Crystal noted in the LAT that the calves playing Norman were of Golden Jersey breed, specifically chosen for their “fawn-like” vulnerability, “like Bambi.”
       After shooting in Colorado, cast and crew headed to Santa Fe, NM, to continue filming on location at Ghost Ranch, as well as at Garson Studios. Production notes indicate that the sound stages served primarily as backup in case of inclement weather. On 11 Dec 1990, an advertisement in DV congratulated filmmakers on the completion of principal photography. A 30 Nov 1990 DV news item indicated that the budget had climbed to $26 million.
       After successful sneak previews on 18 and 19 Mar 1991, Castle Rock executive Martin Shafer indicated in a 25 Mar 1991 HR article that the picture would open in wide release on 12 Jun 1991. One month later, on 18 Apr 1991, DV reported that the release had been moved up five days, to 7 Jun 1991. A benefit premiere was held the night before at Mann’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, as noted by a 10 Jun 1991 DV news brief. Distributor Columbia Pictures moved the opening because there was “little competition” at the box-office that particular weekend, according to a 12 Jun 1991 HR article. On 6 Aug 1991, DV ran a full-page advertisement indicating that City Slickers had grossed $100 million at the box-office.
       Critics acknowledged that the film would appeal to the masses. Echoing the sentiments expressed in other reviews, the 20 Jun 1991 Hollywood Drama-Logue noted that, although the story was “pretty predictable” and “sometimes silly,” the performances by Jack Palance and the three leads were strong. The seventy-three-year-old Palance won the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, memorably performing one-armed pushups during his acceptance speech.
       In France, City Slickers was released under the title Life, Love and Cows, according to a Sep 1993 Playboy news item.
       In light of the film's success, Crystal, Stern, Palance, and several members of the supporting cast reunited for City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's Gold (1994, see entry), also written by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel.
       City Slickers marked the theatrical feature film debut of actor Jake Gyllenhaal.
       End credits indicate that the picture was: “Filmed at Garson Studios, Santa Fe, New Mexico; Culver Studios, Culver City, California; and Universal Studios, Universal City, California.”
       End credits include the following acknowledgements: “The Major League Baseball Trademarks Depicted in this Motion Picture were Licensed by Major League Baseball Properties, Inc.”; “Special thanks to: Luis De Lope; Coors Beer; Ocean Spray; Justin Boot Company; United Airlines; S & The 3 L’s; Nancy Roberts; and ‘Stubb’”; and, “Producers Wish to Thank: The Bureau of Land Management Taos Resource Area; City of Pamplona, Spain; Colorado Film Commission; Commodore Amiga Computers; Ghost Ranch; J. Crew Clothing; Montana Silversmiths; Nambe Pueblo; New Mexico Film Commission; New York City Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting; Outback Trading Company; Pendelton; Santa Clara Pueblo; Santa Fe National Forest; Jim Shibley; Smyth & Company; Rodeo Chaps; Tappan Appliances; Tweeds Inc.; Visa Credit Card; and Woolrich Clothing.”
      On 21 Mar 1990, DV announced that City Slickers was scheduled to begin production by early fall 1990, marking a newly established relationship between actor-producer Billy Crystal and Castle Rock Entertainment. Although no director had been selected, a budget of $20 million was anticipated. Crystal recalled in a 6 Jan 1991 LAT article that the idea “just popped into his mind” while watching television one night in mid-1989. He acknowledged his long-standing affinity with both the West and the classic Hollywood Western, stating, “I don’t believe in past lives, but … I think I was a cowboy.” A 23 Jul 1990 DV news item indicated that Bruno Kirby and Rick Moranis were set to star opposite Crystal, who felt that Jack Palance was the “only choice” to play the role of “Curly,” according to a 1 Nov 2013 article in The Week. Palance was very interested, but had a scheduling conflict, so filmmakers asked Charles Bronson to read for the part. After Bronson declined the role, Palance let filmmakers know that he had cleared his schedule in order to do the picture.
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
21 Mar 1990
p. 1, 12.
Daily Variety
23 Jul 1990.
---
Daily Variety
6 Sep 1990.
---
Daily Variety
30 Nov 1990.
---
Daily Variety
11 Dec 1990.
---
Daily Variety
28 Mar 1991.
---
Daily Variety
18 Apr 1991.
---
Daily Variety
30 May 1991
p. 2, 13.
Daily Variety
10 Jun 1991.
---
Daily Variety
6 Aug 1991.
---
Hollywood Drama-Logue
20-26 Jun 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 Aug 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Sep 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Sep 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Mar 1991
p. 20.
Hollywood Reporter
30 May 1991
p. 5, 16.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jun 1991
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Aug 1991.
---
Long Beach Press-Telegram
23 Jun 1991.
---
Los Angeles Times
16 Sep 1990.
---
Los Angeles Times
6 Jan 1991.
---
Los Angeles Times
7 Jun 1991
Calendar, p. 1.
New York Times
7 Jun 1991
Section C, p. 18.
New York Times
21 Jul 1991.
---
Playboy
Sep 1993.
---
The Week
1 Nov 2013
pp. 36-37.
Variety
15 Apr 1991.
---
Variety
3 Jun 1991
pp. 50-51.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Castle Rock Entertainment
In Association with Nelson Entertainment Presents
A Face Production
A Ron Underwood Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
2d 2d asst dir
2d unit dir, Pamplona, Spain crew
1st asst dir, Pamplona, Spain crew
1st asst dir, Addl crew
1st asst dir, Addl crew
2d asst dir, Addl crew
PRODUCERS
Prod
Exec prod
Line prod, Pamplona, Spain crew
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st cam asst
1st cam asst
2d cam asst
2d cam asst
Panaglide op
Gaffer
Still photog
Asst to still photog
Dolly grip
2d company grip
Grip
Grip
Best boy elec
Shotmaker op
Dir of photog, Pamplona, Spain crew
Addl photog, Pamplona, Spain crew
Addl photog, Pamplona, Spain crew
1st asst cam, Pamplona, Spain crew
1st asst cam, Pamplona, Spain crew
1st asst cam, Pamplona, Spain crew
Cam loader, Pamplona, Spain crew
Cam loader, Pamplona, Spain crew
Key grip, Pamplona, Spain crew
Grip, Pamplona, Spain crew
Grip, Pamplona, Spain crew
Cam op, Addl crew
Aerial cam, Addl crew
Dolly grip, Addl crew
Photog equip by
Aerial cam provided by
Lighting equip supplied by
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Storyboard artist
Storyboard artist
Art dept coord
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Post prod asst
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Set des
Set des
Const coord
Const foreman
Const foreman
Const foreman
Leadman
Set dresser
Set dresser
Set dresser
Asst prop master
Propmaker
Labor foreman
Paint foreman
Paint foreman
Plaster foreman
Prod painter
Greens foreman
Standby greens
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
Cost supv
Cost supv
MUSIC
Asst mus ed
Mus rec & mixed by
Mus contractor
Addl mus/Cond by
Orch/Cond by
Addl orch
Addl orch
Addl orch
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Cableman
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Machine op
Machine op
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
ADR supv
ADR co-supv
Spec vocal eff
ADR voices
Sd transfers
Processed eff by
Foley by
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley mixer
Foley rec
Re-rec facilities
VISUAL EFFECTS
Matte artist
Matte cam
Spec eff coord
Spec eff
Spec eff
Mechanical animal eff by
Mechanical animal eff by, KNB
Mechanical animal eff by, KNB
Mechanical animal eff by, KNB
Title des
MAKEUP
Key makeup artist
Makeup artist
Key hairstylist
Hairstylist
Makeup artist, Addl crew
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Prod assoc
Prod assoc
Prod coord
Prod accountant
Asst prod accountant
Post prod accountant
Accounting clerk
Accounting clerk
Asst to Ron Underwood
Asst to the prods
Asst to the writers
Asst prod coord
Asst prod coord
Product promotions coord
Unit pub
Casting assoc
New Mexico casting
Extra casting
Extra casting, Cenex Casting
Extra casting
Extra casting
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation co-capt
Livestock coord
Livestock coord
Wrangler gang boss
Animal trainer
American Humane Association representative
American Humane Association representative
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Wrangler
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Loc projectionist
Set medic
Craft service
Caterer
Caterer
Loc mgr, Pamplona, Spain crew
Unit mgr, Pamplona, Spain crew
Prod coord, Pamplona, Spain crew
Asst loc mgr, Pamplona, Spain crew
Translator, Pamplona, Spain crew
Translator, Pamplona, Spain crew
Loc mgr, Addl crew
Loc scout, Addl crew
Aerial asst, Addl crew
Helicopter pilot, Addl crew
Helicopter pilot, Addl crew
Medic, Addl crew
Prod asst, Addl crew
Prod asst, Addl crew
Prod asst, Addl crew
Prod asst, Addl crew
Prod asst, Addl crew
Prod asst, Addl crew
Prod asst, Addl crew
Banking services provided by
Travel services provided by
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Co-stunt coord
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stunt double, Pamplona, Spain crew
ANIMATION
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col and prints by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Young At Heart," Cherio Corp. and June's Tunes, words by Carolyn Leigh, music by Johnny Richards, performed by Jimmy Durante, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records Inc. by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"Tumbling Tumble Weeds," words and music by Bob Nolan, publisher Music of the West, administered by SGA
"Rawhide," written by Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington, published by Volta Music Corp./Mrs. Ned Washington/Catherine Hinen
+
SONGS
"Young At Heart," Cherio Corp. and June's Tunes, words by Carolyn Leigh, music by Johnny Richards, performed by Jimmy Durante, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records Inc. by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"Tumbling Tumble Weeds," words and music by Bob Nolan, publisher Music of the West, administered by SGA
"Rawhide," written by Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington, published by Volta Music Corp./Mrs. Ned Washington/Catherine Hinen
"Bonanza," composers Jay Livingston & Ray Evans, publishers Jay Livingston Music/St. Angelo Music
"Where Did My Heart Go?," composed by Marc Shaiman, performed by James Ingram, produced by Thom Bell and James Ingram.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
7 June 1991
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles premiere: 6 June 1991
Los Angeles and New York openings: 7 June 1991
Production Date:
11 September--early December 1990
Copyright Claimant:
Castle Rock Entertainment
Copyright Date:
10 July 1991
Copyright Number:
PA531974
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Sound
This film recorded in a THX® Sound System Theatre
Color
Duration(in mins):
110
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
31142
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Pamplona, Spain, three New Yorkers participate in the annual “running of the bulls.” On the plane ride home, Mitch Robbins tells his friend, Ed Furillo, that their adventures are better suited for younger men. The passionate Ed protests, until Mitch points to their other friend, Phil Berquist, already asleep a few seats back. One year later, on his thirty-ninth birthday, Mitch goes to his son’s school to speak at career day. He begins describing his work in radio advertising, but abruptly changes topic, warning the children to prepare for the inevitability of aging. That night at Mitch’s birthday party, Ed and Phil give their friend a two-week “adventure trip” driving cattle from New Mexico to Colorado. However, Mitch says he cannot go. Just then, a young woman interrupts the celebration and shocks everyone by informing Phil that she is pregnant. When Phil’s domineering wife, Arlene, confronts her husband, Phil argues that he has had enough of their loveless marriage. After the guests have gone, Mitch and his wife, Barbara, discuss the stability of their relationship. Sensing that her husband has lost his passion for life, Barbara encourages him to go on the cattle drive with Ed and Phil. A few weeks later, the three men arrive at Stone Ranch in New Mexico. There, they meet the other guests, including African-American dentist, Ben Jessup, and his son, Steve, as well as ice cream magnates Barry and Ira Shalowitz. Bonnie Rayburn, the lone woman, admits to feeling out of place, but the men urge her to stay. Ranch owner Clay Stone invites the “city slickers” to practice their skills in the corral. Mitch is the only person who cannot lasso ... +


In Pamplona, Spain, three New Yorkers participate in the annual “running of the bulls.” On the plane ride home, Mitch Robbins tells his friend, Ed Furillo, that their adventures are better suited for younger men. The passionate Ed protests, until Mitch points to their other friend, Phil Berquist, already asleep a few seats back. One year later, on his thirty-ninth birthday, Mitch goes to his son’s school to speak at career day. He begins describing his work in radio advertising, but abruptly changes topic, warning the children to prepare for the inevitability of aging. That night at Mitch’s birthday party, Ed and Phil give their friend a two-week “adventure trip” driving cattle from New Mexico to Colorado. However, Mitch says he cannot go. Just then, a young woman interrupts the celebration and shocks everyone by informing Phil that she is pregnant. When Phil’s domineering wife, Arlene, confronts her husband, Phil argues that he has had enough of their loveless marriage. After the guests have gone, Mitch and his wife, Barbara, discuss the stability of their relationship. Sensing that her husband has lost his passion for life, Barbara encourages him to go on the cattle drive with Ed and Phil. A few weeks later, the three men arrive at Stone Ranch in New Mexico. There, they meet the other guests, including African-American dentist, Ben Jessup, and his son, Steve, as well as ice cream magnates Barry and Ira Shalowitz. Bonnie Rayburn, the lone woman, admits to feeling out of place, but the men urge her to stay. Ranch owner Clay Stone invites the “city slickers” to practice their skills in the corral. Mitch is the only person who cannot lasso an object, much to Ed’s amusement. When the three New Yorkers notice ranch hands Jeff and T. R. harassing Bonnie, they attempt to create a diversion, to no avail. Just then, an old weather-beaten cowboy rides up and admonishes Jeff and T. R. to behave like gentlemen. With menacing self-assuredness, he rides away, leaving Mitch awestruck. That night, the guests learn that the cowboy, whose name is “Curly,” will be their trail boss. Ben Jessup relays a rumor that Curly once killed a man, causing Mitch to fear the journey ahead. In the morning, the guests depart Stone Ranch, driving the cattle toward Colorado. En route, Ed admires Bonnie Rayburn. When Mitch reminds Ed that he is married, Ed declares he enjoys keeping his options open. That night around the campfire, Phil and Mitch suggest that Ed appreciate the benefits of a committed relationship. An argument ensues, until Curly warns them to be quiet. In the morning, Mitch tries to make amends by preparing fresh-ground coffee. However, at the sound of the battery-powered grinder, the cattle stampede. From a nearby bluff, Curly watches as the herd demolishes the campsite. Laughing, he fires a gun, causing the cattle to stop dead in their tracks. After noticing that several animals are missing, Curly orders Mitch to help round up the strays. The task takes all afternoon, and the two men are forced to camp together that night. Mitch watches nervously as Curly hones his knife on a leather strop, surprised when the gruff man reveals a sensitive side. The next day, Curly declares that the secret to a good life is to honor “just one thing.” Mitch is perplexed, however, when the trail boss indicates that the “one thing” is unique to each individual. Just then, they notice a cow writhing on its side. Curly assesses that the animal is about to give birth, and charges Mitch with delivering the calf. Though nervous and disgusted, Mitch pulls out the animal, elated when it begins walking around. He names the calf “Norman.” After determining that the mother will not survive, Curly shoots her. Later, they rejoin the main herd, and Mitch introduces little Norman to his friends. At lunch, he recounts Curly’s advice on finding the meaning of life. When everyone laughs, he invites Curly to join the conversation, but the old timer does not respond, and Mitch realizes that Curly has died. After burying the trail boss, the group sets out under Jeff and T. R.’s direction. En route, Phil, Ed, and Mitch share stories about the best and worst days of their lives. The cattle drive is uneventful until “Cookie,” the drunken cook, drives the chuck wagon over a ravine. Cookie jumps to safety but breaks both legs. Ben and Steve Jessup agree to escort the injured man to a nearby town. That night, Jeff and T. R. drink the remaining liquor and threaten to shoot Norman. Mitch tries to negotiate with the cowboys, but the encounter erupts into a fight. Phil grabs Jeff’s gun and orders the bullies to go sleep off their stupor. Moments later, he breaks down crying, and Ed and Mitch console their friend. Ira and Barry Shalowitz report that Jeff and T. R. have fled. The Shalowitzes want to abandon the herd and return to civilization, but Ed and Phil insist they continue. Mitch does not think they are capable of completing the cattle drive, and in the morning, he departs with Bonnie and the Shalowitzes. However, he later rejoins his friends, admitting he could not let Curly down. Following their intuition, they head toward Colorado. When a thunderstorm breaks, they drive the herd into a forest, navigating the steep terrain in pouring rain. They arrive at a raging river, and Ed, undaunted, leads the animals across. However, Norman is too small to withstand the current and gets swept away. Mitch successfully lassos the calf, but is yanked by the force of the rope into the river. Clutching Norman, he is swept downstream, where Phil and Ed perform a heroic rescue. The next day, they arrive at the ranch and bring in the herd. Rancher Clay Stone welcomes them with appreciation, but when he remarks that the cattle are to be delivered to a meat company, the New Yorkers’ spirits fall. That night, Mitch bids a tearful farewell to Norman. In the morning, Ed, Phil, and Mitch reflect on their experiences. Ed announces his intention to impregnate his young wife, Phil looks forward to “starting over,” and Mitch declares he has found his “one thing.” On arriving at the airport, Mitch kisses Barbara and introduces his astonished family to Norman, who greets them with a “moo.” +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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