The Stage Show Sharp Shooter

Ray Milland and Hedy Lamarr in Copper Canyon (1950)

A group of Southern veterans, who following the war are working as copper miners, are unable to deal with the local rebel-haters who make life difficult for them, trying to force them to abandon their land. It is why a small group visit Johnny Carter (Ray Milland), part of a travelling stage show who is renowned for his sharp shooting skills who they believe was previously known as Colonel Desmond, but he denies it. To make matters more complicated the travelling show arrives in town where Johnny takes a shine to gambler Lisa Roseller (Hedy Lamarr) who the miners believe is behind a lot of their trouble, well her and Deputy Lane Travis (Macdonald Carey).

That synopsis for "Copper Canyon" is a stripped down version and there is more to this movie from Ray Milland's character having a secret which makes him uncomfortable admitting to who he is whilst flirtations with Lisa lead to jealousy for a crooked sheriff. I could go on and that is one of the major plus points when it comes to "Copper Canyon" as it packs a lot of story into its extremely reasonable 84 minutes. Of course when you try to fill this sort of movie with so much detail it often means some is just filler but it certainly makes for a western which commands your attention even though when it comes down to is we are really talking about a devious businessman trying to run the miners off of their land.

Macdonald Carey in Copper Canyon (1950)

What also makes "Copper Canyon" entertaining is that director John Farrow gives the movie that rich look where every scene and every set is rich in colour and detail. Okay some of the sets end up incredibly busy looking but it contributes to why this ends up one of those old westerns which despite having not the most original of storylines you can watch again because the chances are you will have missed something the first time around.

Something you can't miss the first time you watch "Copper Canyon" is the beautiful Hedy Lamarr who just needs to be in a scene to grab your attention even if she is just sitting in a room. But Lamarr also gives her character a sense of mystery as you can't be sure how involved she is with the troubles. Meanwhile there is also Ray Milland who through out this has his character talk even faster than he usually does making Johnny Carter sound all the more like he should be in film noir rather than a western. If Lamarr and Milland is not enough the various familiar western actors who fill this movie with vibrant characters certainly fill it out.

What this all boils down to is that "Copper Canyon" is in some ways nothing special as the basic storyline has been told many a times. But between the detail, the characters and the actors this still ends up an entertaining 1950s western.

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