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A group of copper miners, Southern veterans, are terrorized by local rebel-haters, led by deputy Lane Travis. The miners ask stage sharpshooter Johnny Carter to help them, under the impression that he is the legendary Colonel Desmond. It seems they're wrong; but Johnny's show comes to Coppertown and Johnny romances lovely gambler Lisa Roselle, whom the miners believe is at the center of their troubles. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Ray Milland having an unusually energetic time of it.
As often throughout his long-running career, urbane Wales born Ray Milland takes on a role that seems on the surface atypical for his native skills, in this instance as Johnny Carter, a vaudeville trick shot artist who was formerly Colonel Desmond, a Confederate Army hero, now coming to the postwar West in search of financial profit and romantic adventure. Although the war is past, Desmond's ability as a military leader is sought by a group of ex-Confederate soldiers, now employed at copper mining, and needful of tactical shelter from a corrupt combine composed of former Union soldiers and mercenary lawmen that does not stop short of murder in preventing the Southerners from transporting their ore to be smelted. Desmond is reluctant to become involved in this affray and we learn that he is sought for the theft of $20000 which he took from the commandant's office in a Union prison camp upon his escape from that establishment, and is therefore determined to hide his true identity within his posture as Carter the entertainer. Through married complexities in the scenario, Desmond is convinced that he should assist his former compatriots and this gives Milland an opportunity to become engaged in a series of highly kinetic adventures involving riding, shooting and, in general, making of himself a nuisance to the villains of this cinematic western romp. On the distaff side, an extraordinarily beautiful Hedy Lamarr is impressive in an ambiguous role as an adventuress from New Orleans who may or may not be allied with the forces of evil, and there are fine portrayals by Mona Freeman, Peggy Knudsen, and giantess Hope Emerson as a dance proprietress. The cast is strengthened by Macdonald Carey as the primary villain of the piece, and he dominates virtually every scene that he is in, and there are solid performances from James Burke, impish Percy Kelton, and Harry Carey, Jr. as a Union officer in love with Caroline Desmond (Freeman), daughter of the patriarch of the miners. Filmed in Technicolor, COPPER CANYON is easy upon the eyes, and the post of director is capably filled by John Farrow, who deals nicely with an overabundance of subplots, yet who concentrates upon those elements which will move the action along smartly, yet allow for development of character. Unfortunately, the production is heavily cut and there are some instances of ragged editing, with a result that the climax and weaving of loose ends is stunningly rushed, and what might have been a standout motion picture must remain at present a pleasant bagatelle of its genre.
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