Junior Bonner (1972)
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No Top Critics Tomatometer score yet...
Junior Bonner is a rodeo film which for several reasons is more than usually interesting. One is that it is directed by Sam Peckinpah (The Wild Bunch), another is that Steve McQueen plays Junior. The film also features a decent script and a strong supporting cast (Ida Lupino, Robert Preston). Junior has been out of touch with his family for some time. When he returns home to Arizona, he is shocked to discover that his parents are splitting up, and his brother (Joe Don Baker) is making a fortune by selling the family ranch for real-estate developments. He gets a bug in his ear about the local rodeo, and decides to compete, inspiring a brief family reunion in the process. … More
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Critic Reviews for Junior Bonner
The movie simply never comes together and works as a whole. The material is terribly thin.
Junior Bonner, based on an excellent original screenplay by Jeb Rosebrook, is Peckinpah in the benignly comic mood that, I suspect, is much more the natural fashion of this fine director than is the gross, intellectualized mayhem.
Junior Bonner may be the least Peckinpah-like in content, but it's very much like his other work in spirit.
... a gentle character study and a lyrical portrait of family, respect and integrity in the face of adversity.
...the leisurely pace effectively prevents the viewer from wholeheartedly connecting with the material.
There's something essential about boys playing men in front of the women they love.
One of Peckinpah's loveliest films, simmering with family animosity but also brimming with terrific moments of graceless quiet.
Sam Peckinpah presents a sharp look at the "new west" in contrast with the fading frontier scene.
Audience Reviews for Junior Bonner
Junior Bonner works if you look at it as a bunch of good scenes but as a whole movie its not that great. I would call this more of a Steve McQueen movie than a Sam Peckinpah film (as McQueen's presence for the most part carries it.) Robert Preston and Ida Lupino as McQueen's parents manage to steal every scene they're in (same for Charmagne.) Unfortunately the story never really figures out what it wants to do but the bar fight towards the end was a nice distraction from that fact. It looks like it could be about the death of The Old West for a few minutes but it turned into this goofy, folksy prodigal son kind of thing that turned into a day at the rodeo by default. A lot of little unspoken things are never tied up or explained (the movie wasn't clever, coy or sly enough to give the audience the impression this was done intentionally) and the end just... kind of happened as opposed to having been built up to. I love that Sam Peckinpah did this type of movie, but I just wish it was better.More
How much you enjoy the film overall depends on your interest or affection for the rodeo but there are some really fine performances. McQueen is fine but Robert Preston and Ida Lupino really take acting honors as his parents. The scene between them on the stairs is an example of what great actors can do to make characters live on the screen. Something that helps sell the story is that the two of them really look like they could be Steve's parents. A subtle drama of the kind that is rarely made today.More
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