Junior Bonner (1972)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

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.
Classics , Drama , Western
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:


Steve McQueen
as Junior 'JR' Bonner
Robert Preston
as Ace Bonner
Ida Lupino
as Elvira Bonner
Ben Johnson
as Buck Roan
Joe Don Baker
as Curly Bonner
Barbara Leigh
as Charmagne
Mary Murphy
as Ruth Bonner
Bill McKinney
as Red Terwiliger
Sandra Deel
as Nurse Arlis
Don 'Red' Barry
as Homer Rutledge
Matthew Peckinpah
as Tim Bonner
Sundown Spencer
as Nick Bonner
Rita Garrison
as Flashy Girl in Bar
Casey Tibbs
as Parade Grand Marshal
Rod Hart
as Himself
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Junior Bonner

All Critics (18) | Top Critics (4)

The movie simply never comes together and works as a whole. The material is terribly thin.

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Junior Bonner may be the least Peckinpah-like in content, but it's very much like his other work in spirit.

May 30, 2001
AV Club
Top Critic

A film filled to overflowing with small, subtle beauties.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

The historical moment is precious, as its only constant is flux.

Full Review… | August 8, 2015
Slant Magazine

... a gentle character study and a lyrical portrait of family, respect and integrity in the face of adversity.

Full Review… | July 18, 2009
Turner Classic Movies Online

Audience Reviews for Junior Bonner

A great movie. Sam Pickenpah departs from his usual violent vein to direct a quiet story of a man who is committed to his way of life and the family of which he is a part of. Steve McQueen is excellent in this role. He showed the quiet character of a few cowboys I knew.

Robert Wilson
Robert Wilson

Great, great, great film. Best work of Peckinpah even, or because, it lacks violence, so-called Peckinpah's specialty. His gaze on characters, no matter how small the role is, is full of love and tenderness in this film. It's a fantasy about men and women, family, dream, and the USA. Full of memorable scenes. Great editing. Just watch it. I guarantee you will be happy after watching. (F**k whatever Roger Ebert says about this film.)

Naoya Kugimiya
Naoya Kugimiya

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.

Michael Gildea
Michael Gildea

Super Reviewer

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