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A genre unto itself, the rodeo lifestyle was documented with surprising fervor in the early 1970s by a handful of interesting films including "Honkers," "J.W. Coop," and "When the Legends Die." Each film explored the themes of a changing civilization which embraced convention while muting individualism and personal freedom. Thus, Peckinpah and McQueen were truly in their element with "Junior Bonner."
The film covers a day in the life of Junior Bonner (McQueen), an aging rodeo star who returns to his Arizona hometown to participate in an annual rodeo competition. We are soon introduced to his family, including his estranged parents (Robert Preston and Ida Lupino) and his budding businessman brother (Joe Don Baker) looking to profit from the sale of his father's land while exploiting the frontier/cowboy persona.
"Junior Bonner" is so understated, that the viewer must read between the lines throughout its brief running time, including a fascinating dinner scene with McQueen, Lupino and Baker when they discuss the family's future. It is a moment of brilliant directing and acting.
Ironically, what is probably the least seen film of Peckinpah and McQueen's careers is also one of their best. Peckinpah has never before been so restrained, if not gentle.Read more ›
But director Peckinpah lightens up after this downbeat start, and the movie becomes a kind of romantic comedy, with old-timer Robert Preston rising from his hospital bed with a dream of prospecting in Australia and a last attempt to win back his wife of many years, played wonderfully by Ida Lupino. There is plenty of farce, including Preston and McQueen riding a horse through backyards and getting hung up on a clothesline, a comical barroom brawl, a punch that sends a man through a front porch window, and the rodeo itself with a rapid montage of graceless falls from rough stock played against turkey-in-the-straw music.
McQueen, playing an ageing, stove-up bull rider, is the calm at the center of this storm.Read more ›
In Junior Bonner the actors , atmosphere , characters , cinematography and script are all top notch . For those who think of Bullitt when they think of Steve and the Wild Bunch when they think of Sam Peckinpah , this film is something very special and a wonderful surprise - like discovering buried treasure . It's that good .
A bargain price DVD , in no way reflecting the film's high quality .
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Most reviewers seem to really approve of this saga featuring Steve McQueen. It's truly an 'oldie', and kind of a 'goodie' but not really that great IMHO!Published 28 days ago by jimbo
Steve McQueen plays a modern Western cowboy as a rodeo champion Junior ”JR“ Bonner who returns to Prescott, Arizona, to reunite with his parents and brother and ride the unruly... Read morePublished 2 months ago by David Cranmer
My home town, Prescott, Arizona. I was here while the movie was being made, and love Steve McQueen. If you want a glimpse of Prescott back in the early 70's & love rodeo, you can't... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Vyvyan Ross
This in my opinion is his best movie! And it's not because of his character which he makes look as easy as any he has portrayed in his other hits but the entire movie was also... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Dean E. Hamilton
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