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