Movie Confessions: City Slickers

By Arden Foster on January 27th, 2020

Not going to lie. I just watched City Slickers (1991) for the first time with good friends of mine a few weeks ago. It only took five summers at RTR to finally see it and no, I’m not proud that it took me so long! Doug mentions it every Sunday night, crediting some of the early success of RTR to its release just before the Van Berkums’ first summer at the ranch in 1993.  It has been a well-kept secret about how poorly versed I am in my westerns - I only watched Man From Snowy River (1982) two years ago for my first time.  I figured if David found out how few westerns I had seen, I might lose my job!

City Slickers was classic. It IS a classic. Everyone who is interested in staying or working at a dude ranch should see it. It is about folks who stay at a working cattle ranch, and learn the basics of riding, roping, and how to survive the wild, wild west. There is an old cowboy, Curly, who is a daunting, but wonderful, man. He takes a liking to and befriends the main character, Mitch Robbins, who is played by the ever famous Billy Crystal.

A line that Curly says to Mitch while they are riding along solving life’s problems has stuck with me since seeing the film. He says “You city folk spend about 50 weeks a year gettin’ knots in your rope, and then you think two weeks out here will untie ‘em for ya.” Rides out here often become a therapeutic time of growth – Theodore Roosevelt has been credited as saying “The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man.” I often find myself having personal revelations while out on the trail – learning to live in the moment, the value of exceptional company on and off horseback, and quality conversations and relationships. Curly goes on to say the secret of life is one thing, and that’s for Mitch to figure out. As per the course, Mitch is perplexed, but the moral of the story is that each person has to find what makes them happy, hold on to it, and remember it. For me, it has become this western way of life - maybe a little like Mitch, maybe a little more like Curly...

I can’t really say that when I started at the ranch, I wasn’t a city slicker myself. But, with the help of Jane and David, Doug and Linda, and so many friends I have made along the way, I’ve come to adore and do everything I can to live the western lifestyle.


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