Appellate Judge James A. Stewart likes Westerns about spaghetti ranchers.
"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
• Deleted Scenes
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