Each Monday, I continue to share Western movie reviews. I have now launched a podcast about the making of Westerns and the overall filmmaking process. Click here to listen.
Week 184: Copper Sky (1957)
This is another low-budget Western from Charles Marquis Warren, perhaps his best of such efforts, and another great example for independent filmmakers.
The film is mostly a character piece, following Jeff Morrow’s drunken leading man and Coleen Gray’s school teacher through the frontier as they flee from a massacre in town. Much of the movie involves just these two, arguing, surviving, and finding common ground. It’s a great blueprint of how to make a low-budget Western for filmmakers without a big budget.
Unfortunately, both performances are over-the-top at times and hurt the film’s overall effectiveness. Morrow is subtle at times and then drifts into playing up his drunkenness in a way that seems cartoonish. Also, the writing doesn’t serve him well when his character refuses to defend himself from the hanging rope or Gray’s accusations. I wrestled with his character throughout, struggling to believe him at times and admiring his performance as well. Gray, who was terrific in Warren’s The Black Whip, is good hear too but the writing pushes the annoying attributes of her character too far. It’s hard to believe that a woman in this situation would be quite as obnoxious as she randomly chooses to be and yet make such a reversal at the end. I’m a proponent of more subtle characters and more gradual character arcs.
Still, this is a solid Western that has sadly been forgotten.
Watched on YouTube