MOVIE REVIEWS

Copper Canyon

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5/10 NR

November 15, 1950

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By John Chard June 20, 2017

Smoke and Mirrors.

Copper Canyon is directed by John Farrow and written by John Latimer. It stars Ray Milland, Hedy Lamarr, Macdonald Carey, Mona Freeman and Harry Carey Junior. Music is by Daniele Amfitheatrof and cinematography by Charles Lang.

In the bitter period after the Civil War a band of Confederate veterans hoped to start life anew in the rich copper country of the West. They were prepared for the hardships of nature - but not for the greed of men.

Much of this production is beautiful and handsome, tech credits are high end, the Technicolor sizzling, costuming sharp, the locations (Vasquez Rocks/Red Rock Crossing/Cathedral Rock et al) a joy for the eyes. Then of course there's the stars, Milland with his elegant looks, Lamarr cute as a button with blood red lips, and Freeman, a classic beauty if ever there was one. So it's with a touch of sadness to report that prettiness is what you ultimately remember most about the pic.

Story relies of a filmic Civil War trait that has Yankees and Rebs still feuding post the war, on this occasion the Union people are trying to drive out the Confederates who are trying to make hay (copper) while the sun shines on copper canyon. Enter Milland, who is thought to be an ex Confederate leader now plying his trade as a magician/entertainer/marksman etc. Denying he is the ex soldier in question, he nonetheless gets well and truly involved in things, including courting Lamarr, who may or may not be the axis of the pain brought down on the Confederate miners.

The mystery angle involving the principals remains intriguing for the most part, and as old hat as it is, the good guy bad guy shenanigans (Mac Carey of course on chief villain duties) is fun viewing. There's splashes of action, with shootings and chases, the best of the latter unfurling through magnificent scenery, while the big battle at film's end is action packed - even if it is sadly a false dawn since the big face off is a damp squib. But in spite of the beauty and the highlights it still remains a nothing piece, a bit of dressage over substance.

It really should have been something more, something other than a pretty play kinda going through the motions. Frustrating. 6/10

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