Under the Radar

'City Slickers': It's Hard to Explain the Nineties

Jack Palance and Billy Crystal star in "City Slickers." (Castle Rock)

Kids might find it hard to believe, but "City Slickers" (just reissued on Blu-ray with all-new 4K HD scan) was a big mainstream summer hit movie back in 1991. Billy Crystal was a movie star and his character's mid-life crisis was what the mulitplexes were pushing that June.

The movie paired Crystal with Bruno Kirby again after the two had enjoyed huge success in "When Harry Met Sally." They're pushing 40 and, along with a friend played by Daniel Stern, they take a vacation to a cattle ranch in search of their missing mojo.

They encounter a grizzled old ranch hand played by Jack Palance. Lots of folks remember Palance doing one-armed pushups when he accepted the Best Supporting Oscar for this role, but how many remember that he's barely in this movie? This might be the 23rd best part from his storied career, one that included iconic roles in "Shane," "The Big Knife" "Oklahoma Crude" and "Young Guns."

Screenwriters Lowell Ganz and Baballo Mandel have written some classics like "Night Shift," "Splash" and "A League of Their Own," but "City Slickers" is not one of those movies. Bruno reportedly didn't much like how this one turned out and he wasn't invited back for the (much worse) sequel.

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