Quigley Down Under Parent Guide
This movie nails the traditional Western formula but adds some zing with its Australian locations and mustachioed leading man.
Parent Movie Review
Australian rancher Elliot Marsten (Alan Rickman) has put out an ad looking for the greatest sharpshooter in the world. He receives one response that interests him: his own ad, with 6 bullet holes in it, signed “M. Quigley, 900 yards”. When Quigley (Tom Selleck) arrives in Australia to meet Marsten, he discovers that Marsten isn’t interested in shooting wild dogs. He wants Quigley to hunt down the Aboriginal people who live around his ranch. Disgusted by this proposition, Quigley makes a break for it with a young woman from the ranch, Cora (Laura San Giacomo), who is convinced he is her husband. Evading Marsten’s murderous ranch-hands, keeping an eye on Cora, and trying to help the Aboriginal people along the way, Quigley will need to be as skilled a shot as he advertised…
This is a very standard Western, merely relocated to Western Australia. Grizzled men wearing stirrups, holding six-shooters, and spitting tobacco trudge through the dust and the heat, riding horses and firing at each other. Hard to go wrong with such a tried and true formula. Where it differs is in its more affectionate presentation of the Aboriginal Australians - while not a perfect representation, it’s certainly trying to be less offensive than the old American “Cowboys and Indians” stories. It also brings some much-deserved attention to the murderous consequences of the fraught relationship between European colonizers and the people with whom they came into contact.
Tom Selleck of Magnum, P.I. fame is perfectly cast as Quigley. Tall, capable, and heavily mustached, he alternates between bemused and aggravated facial expressions for the nearly two hour runtime - and it works! This isn’t a complicated character study, it’s a morally black and white Western, and all Selleck needs to do is look gruff and dusty. He does both perfectly. Laura San Giacomo is the heart of the movie as “Crazy” Cora, a truly tragic figure with a hard life and a brutal past. As always, though, the highlight is Alan Rickman, playing his standard demented villain. Whether it’s the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves or the businesslike terrorist Hans Gruber in Die Hard, Rickman is always the best part of any movie he’s in.
As far as family viewing goes, the only real problem here is the violence. While not completely over the top, people are graphically killed on numerous occasions, including unarmed women and children. This isn’t just random violence, though, and is contextually significant to the time and place the movie is set in. Although unsuitable for young children, teenagers and young adults will likely enjoy the cheesy fun of this by-the-books Western, its gunslinging villain, and its mustachioed hero.Directed by Simon Wincer. Starring Tom Selleck, Laura San Gaicomo, and Alan Rickman. Running time: 119 minutes. Theatrical release October 17, 1990. Updated March 30, 2020
Watch the trailer for Quigley Down Under
Quigley Down Under
Rating & Content Info
Why is Quigley Down Under rated PG-13? Quigley Down Under is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for intense sequences of western violence and shootings, brief nudity and some language.
Violence: Several individuals are shot and killed. Several people are struck or severely beaten. An individual is stabbed. A person is crushed in a rockslide. People, including children, are shoved off of a cliff to their deaths. An individual is killed by a spear. Wild dogs are shown being shot and eating each other. There is a reference to a woman accidentally smothering a child to death.
Sexual Content: There is occasional mild sexual innuendo. There is brief nudity in a native context: bare breasts and buttocks are occasionally visible.
Profanity: There are three scatological curses and occasional of terms of deity and mild profanity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Individuals are shown smoking cigarettes
Page last updated March 30, 2020
Quigley Down Under Parents' Guide
Marston has a brutal way of clearing Aboriginal people from his ranch. Why does he resort to this kind of violence? Why isn’t he held accountable for it? Has anything similar happened in real life, either in Australia or in other countries? What have the consequences been?
For more information about Australia’s aboriginal people, check out these sources.
Aboriginal Heritage Office: https://www.aboriginalheritage.org/history/history/
The Guardian: The killing times: the massacres of Aboriginal people Australia must confront https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/mar/04/the-killing-times-the-massacres-of-aboriginal-people-australia-must-confront
Share Our Pride: Our Shared History http://www.shareourpride.org.au/sections/our-shared-history/
National Geographic: Aboriginal Australians https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/people/reference/aboriginal-australians/
CNN: How Australia is failing its aboriginal population: https://www.cnn.com/2018/01/26/asia/indigenous-australian-australia-day-statistics/index.html
Loved this movie? Try these books…
Sally Morgan’s “My Place” is the autobiographical story of her experiences growing up in Australia, and her discovery of her Aboriginal heritage.
The most recent home video release of Quigley Down Under movie is April 1, 2020. Here are some details…
Related home video titles:
For non-violent adventures in Australia, check out The Man from Snowy River.
Various iterations of “Robin Hood” have remarkably similar plot points. To see Alan Rickman playing the Sheriff of Nottingham in almost the exact same way he plays Marston, the 1991 adaptation Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (which unfortunately also features Kevin Costner as the titular hero) is a good place to go.
If you’re interested in the stories of Aboriginal Australians, 2002’s Rabbit Proof Fence tells the harrowing story of Molly, Daisy, and Gracie, who escape from a government internment camp and walk 1500 miles to get home.
Adults looking to see a similar story of Indigenous Americans will enjoy Hostiles, starring Christian Bale as a biased Army captain, tasked with escorting Cheyenne Chief Yellow Hawk, played by Wes Studi, back to Montana.