Tom Selleck as Matthew Quigley, taciturn sharpshooter from Wyoming
Western Australia, early 1870s
Film: Quigley Down Under
Release Date: October 17, 1990
Director: Simon Wincer
Costume Designer: Wayne A. Finkelman
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
I only recently learned that January 26 is observed as Australia Day, a national holiday that commemorates the landing of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788 and is celebrated today by presentations of the Australian of the Year Awards and announcement of the Australia Day Honours. Since at least 1938, which was the 150th anniversary of the landing, there has been a movement led by Indigenous Australians to redefine the observance as Invasion Day or Survival Day, a Day of Mourning for the British arrival that resulted in often violent colonization.
Given the movie’s setting and themes of a protagonist who refuses to engage in violence against Aborigines, the unique 1990 Western Quigley Down Under felt like an appropriate choice to write about today.
As suggested by the latter two-thirds of its title, Quigley Down Under follows the tradition of predecessors like The Sundowners (1960) and Ned Kelly (1970) as an Australian-set Western, or “meat pie Western”. The eponymous Quigley is Matthew Quigley (Tom Selleck), a cowboy with a penchant for riflery. Continue reading
Clint Eastwood as Blondie, aka “the Man with No Name”, taciturn bounty hunter
New Mexico Territory, Spring 1862
Film: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
(Italian title: Il Buono, il brutto, il cattivo)
Release Date: December 23, 1966
Director: Sergio Leone
Costume Designer: Carlo Simi
Today marks the 90th birthday of screen legend Clint Eastwood, born May 31, 1930, in San Francisco. (Between John Wayne on May 26, James Stewart on May 20, and Gary Cooper on May 7, there must be something about being in born in May that positions an actor for stardom in the Western genre!)
After Eastwood’s initial success on the TV series Rawhide, he traveled to Italy to star in a trio of Westerns directed by Sergio Leone, firmly establishing the significance of the “spaghetti Western”. In A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966), Eastwood ostensibly played a variation of the same mysterious, laconic gunfighter alternately known as Joe, Manco, or Blondie, respectively, but immortalized in cinema as “the Man with No Name.”