Quigley Down Under
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Quigley Down Under is a 1990 western film directed by Simon Wincer and starring Tom Selleck, Alan Rickman, and Laura San Giacomo.


Matthew Quigley is an American cowboy with a specially modified rifle with which he can shoot accurately at extraordinary distances. Seeing a newspaper advertisement that asks for a man with his special talent, he answers using just four words: M. Quigley 900 yards , written on a copy of the advertisement that is punctured by six closely spaced bullet holes.

When he arrives in Australia, then part of the British Empire, he gets into a fight with employees of the man who hired him as they try to force Crazy Cora onto their wagon. After he identifies himself, he is taken to the station of Elliot Marston, who informs Quigley his sharpshooting skills will be used to eradicate the increasingly elusive Aboriginal Australians. Quigley turns down the offer and throws Marston out of his own house. When the Aboriginal manservant knocks Quigley over the head, Marston s men beat him and Cora unconscious and dump them in the Outback with no water and little chance of survival. However, they are rescued by Aborigines.

Cora now reveals that she comes from Texas. When her home was attacked by Comanches, she hid in the root cellar and accidentally suffocated her child while trying to prevent him from crying. Her husband had then put her alone on a ship to Australia. Now Cora consistently calls Quigley by her husband s name (Roy), much to his annoyance.

When Marston s men attack the Aborigines who helped them, Quigley kills three. Escaping on a single horse, they encounter more of the men driving Aborigines over a cliff. Quigley drives them off with his deadly shooting and Cora rescues an orphaned baby she finds among the dead. Leaving Cora and the infant in the desert with food and water, Quigley rides alone to a nearby town. There he obtains new ammunition from a local German gunsmith, who hates Marston for his murdering ways. Quigley learns as well that he has become a legendary hero among the Aborigines.

Marston s men are also in town and recognize Quigley s saddle. When they attack, cornering him in a burning building, he escapes through a skylight and kills all but one of them. The injured survivor is sent back to say Quigley will be following. But first Quigley returns to Cora and the baby, which she has just saved from an attack by dingoes. She had tried to stop that child from crying too, but finally let him make as much noise as he liked as she killed the animals using a revolver that Quigley had left for her. Back in town, Cora gives the baby to Aborigines trading there after Quigley tells her that she (Cora) has a right to happiness.

Next morning, Quigley rides away to confront Marston at his station. At first he shoots the defenders from his location in the hills, but is eventually shot in the leg and captured by Marston s last two men. Marston, who has noticed that Quigley only ever carries a rifle, decides to give him a lesson in the quick-draw style of gunfighting. However, Marston and his men are beaten to the draw by Quigley; as Marston lies dying, Quigley refers to an earlier conversation, telling him, I said I never had much use for one; never said I didn t know how to use it.

Marston s servant comes out of the house and gives Quigley his rifle back, then walks away from the ranch, stripping off his western-style clothing as he goes. An army troop now arrives to arrest Quigley, until they notice the surrounding hills are lined with Aborigines and decide to withdraw. Later Quigley and Cora book a passage back to America in the name of Cora s husband, since Quigley is still wanted. On the wharf, she reminds him that he once told her that she had to say two words before he could make love to her. Smiling broadly, she calls him Matthew Quigley and the two embrace for the first time.


  • Tom Selleck as Matthew Quigley
  • Laura San Giacomo as Crazy Cora
  • Alan Rickman as Elliott Marston
  • Chris Haywood as Major Ashley-Pitt
  • Ron Haddrick as Grimmelman
  • Tony Bonner as Dobkin
  • Jerome Ehlers as Coogan
  • Conor McDermottroe as Hobb
  • Roger Ward as Brophy
  • Ben Mendelsohn as O Flynn
  • Steve Dodd as Kunkurra
  • Karen Davitt as Slattern
  • Kylie Foster as Slattern
  • William Zappa as Reilly
  • Jonathan Sweet as Sergeant Thomas
  • Ollie Hall as Carver



John Hill first began writing Quigley Down Under in 1974. He was inspired by a Los Angeles Times article about the genocide of the aborigines in 19th-century Australia. Although Westerns were in decline in the 1970s, Hill said that the script opened a lot of doors for me, and led to other assignments.

The script was first optioned in 1979 by producer Mort Engelberg for Steve McQueen, with whom he teamed on The Hunter; however McQueen died of cancer shortly after completing The Hunter. The script was bought by CBS Theatrical Films where it was attached to director Rick Rosenthal. It then went to Warner Bros with Tom Selleck to star and Lewis Gilbert to direct around 1987. Warner Bros had the script for three years but then dropped their option. The script then became the subject of bidding between Pathe Entertainment, Disney and Warner Bros. It sold to Pathé for $250,000 which Hill said is pretty good, when you consider that for 15 years I d been making money optioning and rewriting that screenplay.

Pathé s then head of production, Alan Ladd Jr., agreed to commit a $20 million budget. Selleck agreed to star and the director was an Australian, Simon Wincer.

Wincer felt a good story had been ruined by numerous rewrites from people who knew little about Australian history, so he brought on Ian Jones as writer. They went back to the original draft, re-set it from the 1880s to the 1860s and made it more historically accurate.


The firearm used by Quigley (Selleck) is a custom 13.5 pound (6 kg), single-shot, 1874 Sharps Rifle, with a 34-inch (860 mm) barrel. The rifle used for filming was a replica manufactured for the film by the Shiloh Rifle Manufacturing Company of Big Timber, Montana. In 2002 Selleck donated the rifle, along with six other firearms from his other films, to the National Rifle Association, as part of the NRA s exhibit Real Guns of Reel Heroes at the National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Virginia.

The film was shot entirely in Australia. Scenes were filmed in and around Warrnambool and Apollo Bay, Victoria.

Although several scenes of the story depict violence and cruelty toward and involving animals, a film spokesperson explained that no animal was harmed, and special effects were used. For example, Quigley and Cora are reduced to consuming grub worms (actually blobs of dough) for survival. A pack of dingoes attacks Cora, and she finally saves herself by shooting the animals. Those animals were specially trained, and were actually playing for that scene, which was later enhanced by visual and sound effects. Several scenes involve falling horses; they were performed by specially-trained animals and were not hurt. When a horse falls off a cliff, the horse was a mechanical creation. The film s producer stated that a veterinarian was on the set whenever animals were being used in filming.


Critical responses were mixed, with Quigley having a 58% rating on Rotten Tomatoes from 19 reviews. Roger Ebert gave the film two-and-a-half out of four stars, arguing that it was a flawed but respectable neo-western, and particularly praising San Giacomo s performance: his may be the movie that proves her staying power. She has an authority, a depth of presence, that is attractive, and her voice is deep and musical.

The film, however, was not a financial success in theaters, roughly recouping its budget.

The film, and, more specifically, the protagonist s skill with his rifle, has led snipers to refer to the act of killing two targets with a single bullet as a Quigley .

Awards and nominations

Award Category Subject Result
London Film Critics Circle Award British Actor of the Year Alan Rickman Won
Motion Picture Sound Editors Award Best Sound Editing – Foreign Feature Tim Chau Won
Frank Lipson Won
Political Film Society Award Human Rights Nominated

Year 1990
ReleaseDate 1990-10-19
RuntimeMins 119
RuntimeStr 1h 59min
Plot Sharpshooter Matt Quigley is hired from Wyoming by an Australian rancher paying a very high price. But when Quigley arrives Down Under, all is not as it seems.
Awards Awards, 2 wins & 1 nomination
Directors Simon Wincer
Writers John Hill
Stars Tom Selleck, Laura San Giacomo, Alan Rickman
Produced by Stanley O Toole,Alexandra Rose,Megan Rose
Music by Basil Poledouris
Cinematography by David Eggby
Film Editing by Peter Burgess
Casting By Rae Davidson,Michael Lynch
Production Design by Ross Major
Art Direction by Ian Gracie
Set Decoration by Brian Dusting,Brian Edmonds
Makeup Department Lon Bentley,Doug Glanville,Anna Karpinski,Tony Meredith,Vivienne Rushbrook,Gregg Staines,Jules Chapman
Production Management Robert Graham,Christopher Jones,Stephen Jones,Rosemary Marks,David Munro,Pamela H. Vanneck
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director Debbie Atkins,Adrian Carr,Bob Donaldson,Nikki Long,Hamish McSporran
Art Department Wayne Allan,Ian Baxter,Adam Bromhead,Alan Brown,Steve Chorney,Ian Doig,Alan Fleming,Peter Forbes,Graeme Galloway,Alan Goode,Murray Gosson,Andrea Hood,Susan Jarvis,Len Judd,Peta Lawson,Gus Lobb,Glen McDermott,Robert Moxham,Leroy Plummer,Christo Reid,Colin Robertson,Morag Smart,Peter J. Morris,Jane Murphy,Walter Sperl
Sound Department Lloyd Carrick,Tim Chau,Thierry J. Couturier,Peter Fenton,Chris Goldsmith,Phil Heywood,Jennifer Hortin,Frank Lipson,Gerry Long,Glenn Martin,Steve Murphy,Gavin Myers,Ron Purvis,Angus Robertson,John Simpson,Marijke Rikki van Gyen
Special Effects by Peter Bird,Rodney Burke,Steve Courtley,Jan Crockett,Tom Davies,Mont Fieguth,Paul Gorrie,Pauline Grebert,John Kingston,Jeff Little,John Noseda,Conrad Rothmann,Peter Stubbs,Kevin Turner,Bob Wenger,Mick Wenger,Matthew Wighton
Visual Effects by Roger Cowland,Ken Phelan
Stunts Gary Amos,Brett Anderson,Ric Anderson,Szumai Anderson,Danny Baldwin,Spike Cherrie,Murray Chesson,Tom Coltraine,Ken Connley,Wally Dalton,Mitch Deans,Collin Dragsbaek,Brendan Egan,Gerald Egan,Brian Ellison,Joanne Fraser,Lou Horvath,Ray Jones,Colin Lowe,Rocky McDonald,Linda Megier,Paul Murtagh,Guy Norris,Malcolm Pritchard,Johnny Raaen,Greg Stuart,Lloyd Ventry,Shirley Wallace,Mark Warren,Bill Willoughby,Jim Willoughby
Camera and Electrical Department Ross Berryman,Ian Dewhurst,Derry Field,Dave Hansen,Grahame Litchfield,Ian McAlpine,Timothy Morrison,Harry Panagiotidis,Barry Peake,Daryl Pearson,Mark Ramsay,Greg Rawson,Trevor Ripper,Adrien Seffrin,David Stevens,Peter Stott,Peter White,Colin Williams,Sally Eccleston,Kyle T. MacDowell,Lex Martin,Paul Moyes
Casting Department Dianne Crittenden,Jo Warren
Costume and Wardrobe Department Wayne A. Finkelman,Lauryn Forder,Rosalea Hood,Ross Major,Julie Middleton,Sheryl Pilkinton,Jean Turnbull
Editorial Department Leo Bahas,Arthur Cambridge,Adrian Carr,James Harvey,Cheryl Kroll
Music Department Tim Boyle,London Symphony Orchestra,Greig McRitchie,Tom Villano,Michael Boddicker,Tom Boyd,Larry Bunker,Steve Erdody,Steve Forman,Ralph Grierson,The Hollywood Studio Symphony,Tommy Johnson,Alan Kaplan,Richard Marvin,Mark McKenzie,Malcolm McNab,Greig McRitchie,Basil Poledouris,Emil Richards,James Thatcher
Script and Continuity Department Judy Whitehead
Transportation Department Lisa Harrison
Additional Crew Nick Aquilino,Kevin Bestt,Craig Bolles,Brian Burns,Philippa Campbell,Evanne Chesson,Jerry Croft,Craig Dillon,Hunt Downs,Gerald Egan,Brian Fahey,Braddon Giles,Peter Gronow,Cody Harris,Elaine Hastings Edell,Suzie Howie,Dennis Hulm,Jeremy Hutchinson,Jenny Kaspar,Angela Kenny,Rick Kornaat,Kym Krombholz,Alan Ladd Jr.,Mark Lennard,Colin Lowe,Toni McCutcheon,Kevin McDonald,Ken McLeod,David Muntz,John Nordlum,Vincent O Toole,Lynn Paetz,Malcolm Pritchard,Barbara Ring,Christine Robson,Max Scanlon,Chris Smith,Peter Stott,Mark Taylor,Derek Thompson,Matthew Vandermark,Lloyd Ventry,Anthony Wallis,Neidra Watson,Christine Wertheim,Bill Willoughby,Jim Willoughby,Murray Chesson
Genres Action, Adventure, Drama
Companies Pathé Entertainment
Countries Australia, USA
Languages English, Aboriginal
ContentRating PG-13
ImDbRating 6.9
ImDbRatingVotes 22494
MetacriticRating 51
Keywords long range rifle,australian aborigine,australian outback,rifleman,soldier