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Film: Quigley Down Under

The Western with a twist: it's set (and in a nice aversion of California Doubling filmed) in Western Australia.

Matthew Quigley, possibly the world's greatest sharpshooter, travels to Australia from Wyoming to take up employment with Elliott Marston, a Cattle Baron who needs help clearing wild animals off his land. When he finds out that the "wild animals" he's expected to kill are the local Aboriginal people, he doesn't take it too well. Marston doesn't take being thrown out the nearest window too well, either. Things kind of escalate from there.

In addition to his other problems, Quigley has to deal with Crazy Cora, who's quite pretty but comes by her nickname honestly, and is apparently convinced he's her long-lost husband Roy. You don't need us to tell you how that subplot ends, do you?

Released in 1990, the film stars Tom Selleck, Alan Rickman, and Laura San Giacomo.

This film provides examples of:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: When Marsters is dying, he gives an ironic chuckle when Quigley explains his lethal Quick Draw and accuracy with a revolver after continually refusing to use any weapon other than his rifle with "I always said I never had much use for one. I never said I didn't know how to use it."
  • Badass Mustache: Quigley. He is played by Tom Selleck.
  • Bedouin Rescue Service
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Marston's decision to abandon Quigley in the Outback to die of starvation, rather than just shooting him and burying the body.
    • Justified: the British officers had heard an American sharpshooter was coming and met him on the way to the ranch. They might have asked questions if he'd simply disappeared, so Marston wanted to be able to say they'd wandered off and been killed by the desert.
  • Born in the Wrong Century: Marston fancies himself this, as he has a fascination (Almost an obsession) with the American West and traditional Cowboy fare.
    "Some men are born in the wrong century. I think I was born on the wrong continent."
  • Cavalry Officer: Ashley-Pitt.
  • Cattle Baron: Marston.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: She is not called Crazy Cora for nothing.
  • Cool Old Guy: Grimmelman the gunsmith.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Marston assumes that Quigley's sniping skills are this, since he refuses to even carry another weapon and dismissed revolvers out of hand. He is not correct.
  • Cruel Mercy: Quigley threatens a fatally shot but still alive villain (whose wound is too grievous for Quigley to help him) with this at one point when interrogating him. Instead of giving him his gun so he can commit suicide with it, he threatens to leave him alive for the ants and dingoes to eat. After he gets the info he needs out of the guy, he hands him back his gun, and it becomes an "assisted" Mercy Kill.
  • Death by Irony: Marston misunderstood Quigley when he said he "never had much use" for handguns.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Even before Marston reveals he wants Quigley to kill the Aborigines, he makes our hero very uncomfortable by gunning down two desperate British deserters without batting an eye.
  • Exact Words: Quigley "never had much use for" revolvers. He's actually a very fast and accurate shot, he just normally kills from so far away it doesn't come up.
  • Fastest Gun in the West
  • Freudian Excuse: Marton's hatred for the Aborigines stems from the death of his parents.
  • Foreign Culture Fetish: Marston
  • Foreign Queasine: The Aborigines give Quigley and Cora Witchetty grubs to eat.
  • Groin Attack: Two in the first few minutes!
  • The Gunfighter Wannabe: Marston fancies himself a good gunslinger. Likewise, one of his Mooks, O'Fynn, vastly overestimates his own shooting skills.
  • Gun Porn: The Sharps.
    "It's a lever-action, breech loader. Usual barrel length's thirty inches. This one has an extra four. It's converted to use a special forty-five caliber, hundred and ten grain metal cartridge, with a five-hundred forty grain paper patch bullet. It's fitted with double set triggers, and a Vernier sight. It's marked up to twelve-hundred yards. This one shoots a mite further."
  • The Gunslinger: Who else but Matthew Quigley?
  • High-Class Glass: British Major Ashley-Pitt's ever-present monocle.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Crazy Cora.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: 6'4" Tom Selleck and 5'2" Laura San Giacomo.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed/You Said You Couldn't Dance: "I just said I never had much use for one. I didn't say I didn't know how to use it."
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Averted. He almost never misses, but at anything past point blank range he has to line up his shots carefully, adjust his sights and he often uses a solid base to help prop up and steady his weapon. Just like he would need to do in reality.
  • Instant Death Bullet: Averted twice: first with the Mook mentioned above in Cruel Mercy, who faces a slow death from a gut-shot, then with Marston himself, who lives long enough to have an ironic chuckle at how he misunderstood what Quigley meant when he said he "didn't have much use" for pistols. Usually, though, this trope is played straight, and everybody that gets shot by anyone else just drops down dead.
  • In the Back: Used a few times, just because battles are chaotic, but very pointedly averted at one point. Quigley narrowly escapes a barrage of bullets and gets the drop on his THREE attackers. Although the element of surprise would have been very useful, Quigley calls out to them just so they will turn around and save him from this trope.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Marston's men have a bad habit of pretending to surrender, then pulling a hidden gun. Quigley quickly becomes aware of this tactic, but refuses to actually kill the "surrendering" enemies - until they actually draw, of course. Then he blows them away without remorse.
  • Land Down Under
  • Magical Native American: As part of the setting-shifted-Western premise, a tribe of Aborigines fill this role.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: True of this movie, despite some very realistic-looking scenes of horses falling and rolling, and even one of a horse and rider going over a cliff. They even had a veterinarian on the shoot whenever animals were in use.
  • No One Could Survive That: With those exact words!
  • Of Corsets Sexy: Cora.
  • Oh Crap: When Quigley — who has just been shot, kicked in the head, and dragged across the desert behind a horse, and is now facing three gunmen — suddenly straightens up and says, "This ain't Dodge City, and you ain't Bill Hickock," Marston gets this look as he begins to realize something is about to go wrong.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Oddly used as often as the Instant Death Bullet. Nastily subverted at one point (see Cruel Mercy above).
  • Period Piece
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Marston sure hates him some Aborigines.
  • Roofhopping: Used by Quigley in the town fight. Deconstructed when he lands on a relatively weak roof that breaks under him.
  • Scenery Porn: Lots and lots of wide shots of the Australian Outback. Also Lampshaded by Quigley and Cora — both Americans new to the country — who talk about how beautiful it is.
  • Scotireland: A good many of Marston's Mooks, instead of being Australian, have this going on, especially O'Flynn and Dobkin. They're explicitly referred to as convicts early on.
  • Shop Keeper: Quigley befriends Mr. Grimmelman, the German gunsmith in one of the local towns.
  • Showdown at High Noon: Kind of.
  • Single Issue Psychology
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: An entire tribe of Aborigines, simultaneously; Quigley is suitably impressed.
  • Supporting Protagonist: In terms of character growth and change this is story is really more about Cora than Quigley.
  • Tap on the Head: Both averted and played straight. During the fight in the town, Quigley hits a Mook with the butt of his Sharps and instantly knocks him out. Not even one minute later, though, he drops a ceramic chimney piece on top of another villain, but the guy, though knocked flat for a moment, gets up none the worse for wear.
  • Thoroughly Mistaken Identity: Cora insists on calling Quigley "Roy." Turns out Roy is her former husband, who blamed her for the death of their infant child and sent her away.
  • Try And Follow: Quigley leads the bad guys on a harrowing, Booby Trap-filled chase over the hills of the Outback at the end.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Marston has some of this, but Ashley-Pitt practically oozes this trope in every scene he's in.
  • Villain Ball/Bond Villain Stupidity: Marston whizzes two chances to just shoot Quigley.
  • Wanted Poster
  • The Western
  • Weapon of Choice: Quigley's custom 1874 Sharps Buffalo Rifle and Marston's Colt revolvers.
  • You Said You Couldn't Dance

The Quick and the DeadIndex of Film WesternsRango
Quick ChangeFilms of the 1990sRepossessed

alternative title(s): Quigley Down Under
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