E1 Entertainment // 2013 // 87 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge James A. Stewart (Retired) // May 2nd, 2013
"I'm a circuit judge. All is do is ride from town to town. Strangers is all I meet." -- John William Goodnight
Westerns disappeared from TV and moviescreens when it became harder to please a crowd with gunfights, horseback riding, and beautiful scenery. Of course, in the twenty-first century, it's harder to please a crowd with anything.
Westerns may have declined into a niche market, but as Lou Costello once said, if you find a niche, you scratch it. Hallmark Movie Channel and Luke Perry found a Western niche with Goodnight for Justice, and they keep scratching it with more movies about wandering judge John William Goodnight. The latest is Goodnight for Justice: Queen of Hearts.
Goodnight (Luke Perry, Beverly Hills 90210) is on to his next stop, having let a horse thief who will turn out to be Butch Cassidy go on his merry way. Since this is a Western, his ride is going to include a shootout and rescuing a lady in distress. The lady in question is Lucy (Katharine Isabelle, Ginger Snaps). Since it's a Western, Lucy isn't going to turn out to be so nice. She's a wanted card sharp who's being pursued by Col. Cyril Knox (Ricky Schroeder, Lonesome Dove). Since it's a Western, Goodnight is going to find himself in a poker match with Knox as a prelude to their final showdown.
Queen of Hearts isn't a movie that leaves me worried about revealing spoilers, to say the least. However, Luke Perry enjoys himself making these Westerns -- in the interviews he's proud of doing his own stunts -- and his enthusiasm shows. He gets to stretch the character of Goodnight a bit with his romance with Lucy; you'll notice that Goodnight's always aware that things don't add up, even as he falls in love with her. Katharine Isabelle's dishonest but kindhearted Lucy makes a good foil for the judge who puts the law and duty first. Ricky Schroeder chews the scenery nicely in Knox's poker game with Goodnight; a few viewers might want him to ham it up more, but that's a quibble.
There are a few night scenes that didn't impress me, but Queen of Hearts does well by the earth-tone infused landscape of the horsey sequences. I thought I saw a few sets reused from the first Goodnight for Justice, so the scenery might get monotonous in a marathon.
Check out the deleted scenes, where you'll find an alternate ending that's a treat. The interviews aren't bad, but look like publicity fluff.
If you're in that Western niche audience, renting Goodnight for Justice: Queen of Hearts is a no-brainer. Perry enjoys scratching the niche, and he does it well.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: E1 Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Release Year: 2013
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Deleted Scenes