City Slickers blends sight gags, one-liners, and sincerity, with both humor and drama arising from the characters and their situations. Mitch (Billy Crystal) is a radio station sales executive who finds himself in the throes of a mid-life crisis; accompanied by two friends, Phil (Daniel Stern) and Ed (Bruno Kirby) in the grip of similar problems, he heads to New Mexico for his birthday to participate in a two-week "vacation" cattle drive to Colorado. The three friends and the rest of their group, including an attractive, newly single young woman and two African-American dentists, are all urbanites lost when it comes to herding cattle and surviving on the prairie; it's up to authentic, almost mythic cowboy Curly (Jack Palance, who won an Oscar for the role), to whip them into shape. As various adventures occur along the way, including run-ins with outlaw cattlehands, treacherous natural mishaps, and Mitch's delivery of a newborn calf, the three "city slickers" open up to each other, learn to appreciate Curly's Old West values, and begin to resolve their midlife dilemmas. When Curly dies, it's left to Mitch, Phil, and Ed to bring in the herd.