31 October 2001 | cutter-12
You sure look pretty in the morning sun.
Underseen western which , after a few theatrical misfires (though I also enjoyed him in High Road to China), gave Tom Selleck a role which suited him perfectly. A role which, as a previous comment stated, John Wayne would have been right at home in. It can be argued that this is just a politically correct revisionist western wherein the American witnesses injustices on aborginals in a foreign land and is outraged to action despite the utter mistreatment of native Indians during this same period back home. Some may say it is so, but I prefer to think of Quigley as a man who came to Australia BECAUSE of the injustices he's known back home and is looking perhaps for something better. Selleck represents, as did John Wayne, the decent and noble side of America, and there is no doubt that this is a man given to stand up and do the right thing no matter where he is, Wyoming or Fremantle.
This aside, Quigley succeeds most as a light romance amidst the traditional shoot em up scenario. In fact, the love story is what drives it along most and provides it's most special moments. During a heartfelt speech beside the campfire, Cora relates how heartbreaking it was for her to have her Husband Roy, who blamed her for the death of their child, put her on a ship to Australia and walk away from her life not looking back. This is what matters to her most, as it matters to Quigley that she call him by his right name or he won't share his bed. When presented with their first parting, Quigley leaves Cora and the Aborigine baby in the cave and though assuring her he will return for her he rides away, without stopping to look back.
This is mere oversight on his part and it leads to the most moving scene in the film, one which never fails to bring a tear to my eye - when they are again about to be parted she asks him "I'll never see you again, Will I". He can't say because of what's ahead for him, but he puts his hand on her cheek and says "You sure look pretty in the morning sun". As he mounts his horse and rides off Cora watches after him wondering, as we are wondering, if he'll stop and look back. And then he does. It's one of the most thoughtful and emotionally fleeting moments in movie history. Too bad it hasn't been seen and appreciated by more people.
The musical score, by Basil Poledouris, is also a treat and it hits all the right notes. His score for Conan the Barbarian is an acknowledged classic but here I think he goes a step better. It truly is a nice piece of music to hear amid the action and quieter moments.
Quigley is a very good modern day western. It won't fail to entertain and it must surely be a film which both men and women can enjoy together. If they made more of these kinds of movies I definitely wouldn't complain.