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


Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about
the entire movie.

Matthew Quigley (Tom Selleck) is an American cowboy and sharpshooter with a specially modified rifle with which he can shoot accurately at extraordinary distances. He answers a newspaper advertisement that asks for a man with a special talent in long-distance shooting, using just four words, "M. Quigley 900 yards," written on a copy of the advertisement that is punctured by several closely spaced bullet holes.

When he arrives in Australia, he gets into a fight with employees of the man who hired him, who are trying to force "Crazy Cora" (Laura San Giacomo) onto their wagon. After he identifies himself, he is taken to the station of Elliot Marston (Alan Rickman), who informs Quigley his sharpshooting skills will be used to eradicate the increasingly elusive Aborigines.Quigley turns down the offer and throws Marston out of his house.

The aborigine manservant knocks Quigley over the head and 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 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 Aborigines. 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 also learns that he has become a legendary hero among the Aborigines.

Marston's men are also in town and recognize Quigley's horse. 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 he will be following. First, Quigley returns to Cora and the baby, which she has just saved from an attack by dingoes.

At first, she had tried to stop it crying, but then told it to make as much noise as it liked as she gunned the animals down. Back in town, she gives the baby to Aborigines living there after Quigley tells her that the child has 'a right to happiness'.

The 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.

As the two face off, Marston makes the first move, but is beaten to the draw by Quigley, who shoots the two remaining men as well. As Marston lies dying, Quigley refers to an earlier conversation, telling him, "I said I never had much use for a revolver; I 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 for murder until they notice the surrounding hills are lined with Aborigines and decide to withdraw.

Later, he and Cora book a passage back to America in the name of Roy Cobb, 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 would 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


In 1978, John Hill began writing "Quigley Down Under." Steve McQueen and Clint Eastwood were considered for the lead, but by the time production began in 1980, McQueen was too ill and the project was scrapped.

In the mid-1980s Tom Selleck heard of it and UAA got involved; the film was almost set up at Warner Bros with Lewis Gilbert as director, but it fell over during pre-production.

Simon Wincer then became the director, who 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 film was made by the newly formed Pathe Group, then under Alan Ladd Jnr. It was Ladd's enthusiasm for the project which helped get it financed

The firearm that was used by Quigley 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, Tom 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 movie was filmed entirely in Australia. The 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.


Box OfficeEdit

"Quigley Down Under" debuted at #3 at the box office, grossing $3,853,149 during its opening weekend, ranking behind films Marked for Death and Memphis Belle.

Critical ReceptionEdit

Although Roger Ebert gave the film a three in a half star rating, he said the other elements (such as the use of the Aborigine characters) were "more interesting".

As for Alan Rickman's performance in the film, Ebert said he "has a polished grace that serves here to suggest evil dimensions just beneath the surface."

The Washington Post's Hal Hinson said the film "sets out to provide broad, old-fashioned movie entertainment, and on its own modest terms it delivers. It's just that the terms really aren't that exciting."


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

Theatrical TrailerEdit

Quigley Down Under Trailer

Quigley Down Under Trailer

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