Junior Bonner (1972)
Critic Consensus: A strong central performance from Steve McQueen and absorbingly contemplative direction from Sam Peckinpah make rodeo drama Junior Bonner a classic character study.
as Junior 'JR' Bonner
as Ace Bonner
as Elvira Bonner
as Buck Roan
as Curly Bonner
as Ruth Bonner
as Red Terwiliger
as Nurse Arlis
as Homer Rutledge
as Tim Bonner
as Nick Bonner
as Flashy Girl in Bar
as Parade Grand Marshal
Critic Reviews for Junior Bonner
[Steve] McQueen's reticent personality and hypnotic physical grace are in perfect service, and the air of authenticity is stinging.
Sam Peckinpah's reputation for violence is herein exorcised in the rodeo and brawl sequences. Audiences which consider such rough-and-tumble as innocuous, vicarious ventilation will get their fill, though others may perceive a bit more.
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.
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.
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.
Junior Bonner Quotes
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