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 1990 - Quigley Down Under

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PostSubject: 1990 - Quigley Down Under   Sun Feb 21, 2010 2:12 am

Alan as Elliot Marston



Quote :
Quigley is a western relocated to the deserts of Australia with the title character, played by Tom Selleck, embarking on a three month voyage to take up a sharp shooter position on the outback station owned by Elliot Marston (Alan Rickman). When Quigley finally arrives at the station, with a mad woman (Laura San Giacomo) in tow, he finds out that the job is much more distasteful than shooting dingos. Then follows a survival trek, the confrontation between hero and villain and the final scene kiss with some Aboriginal mysticism along the way.

I suppose I was expecting Quigley to echo an episode of Magnum P.I., action and drama played for laughs and sex appeal. However, Quigley doesn't seem to operate at this level. Infanticide, misogyny, genocide, racism, convict transportation and colonialism are all themes, which get explored to some degree in this film. There are the traditional dichotomies of the western genre like good versus evil (the iconic man in white hat versus man in black hat) and wilderness versus civilisation. Then there are also all of these other serious themes which are handled in general in a superficial way. For example the mad woman, sent mad by smothering her baby to stop it from crying (a.k.a. the bus scene on the last episode of M.A.S.H), is redeemed and made eligible for romance with the hero by telling another infant to scream as loudly as it wants. I was expecting light entertainment and found a film which is stuck somewhere uncomfortably between that and disturbing psycho-social commentary.

Only Alan Rickman plays it for laughs. He is the Sheriff of Nottingham gone bush. The only time he gets serious is when he talks about his mother being killed by Aborigines, so quickly that "she was still holding her sewing". Is an unresolved oedipal complex the reason for Marston's demonisation of the Aborigines? Rickman is a master of the psychologically complex villain (a genre of its own), the bad character you want to save with a little tender loving care.

This movie is too long at 115 minutes. Some scenes are excruciating such as the wagon ride to the Marston station. It is a chance to display the outback landscape although with the Marlboro Man soundtrack the Australian desert sometimes seems more like Monument Valley.

Tom Selleck has a certain integrity and credibility - can anyone dislike him? - and seems to blend into the landscape in his oversized, American way. Tony Bonner, playing some sort of Scottish refugee, is the only Australian to claim handsomeness. Bonner was the helicopter pilot in the original SKIPPY, a TV series, which made Aussie children believe wallabies could understand human speech. In the company of his men Rickman looks and sounds like a pedigree surrounded by mongrels. Towards the end he declares "I was born on the wrong continent". There is nothing within the film to dispute this.

Quigley dispatches Marston and his henchmen with a gun longer than Colonel Brandon's that seemed to only discharge one bullet at a time. He is then the subject of an arrest warrant, but the Aborigines surround the station to render the authority of colonial rule impotent. The British retreat and the Aborigines vanish as if they are beyond mortal existence.

When the hitherto faithful station servant sheds his clothes and walks into the desert I was reminded of the last moments of One Flew Over The Cuckoo�s Nest when the Chief breaks out of the asylum. I too was very glad the tyranny was over.

There was more in this movie than I was expecting but more is not always better ... two hands. Three hands for Rickman who is handsome but out of place.

http://www.rickmanistareview.com/quigley.html

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