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Junior Bonner (Widescreen)

Steve McQueen , Robert Preston , Sam Peckinpah    PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)   DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
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One of director Sam Peckinpah's lesser-known and little-seen outings, this is actually one of his most interesting for being so relaxed. Yet it deals with the themes that always interested him: the man who has watched the world pass him by and realizes that his time is gone. In this case, it's rodeo rider Junior Bonner (Steve McQueen), who returns home to try to win top prize in the bull-riding competition to raise money to stake his father (Robert Preston) to a future. As easy-going and good-natured as you'd like, with a delicious chemistry between Preston and a feisty Ida Lupino as Junior's estranged parents, who are still able to strike romantic sparks. Great rodeo footage captures both the violence and beauty of the sport. --Marshall Fine

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another great teaming of McQueen and Peckinpah July 9 2004
Junior Bonner is not your typical Sam Peckinpah movie, but do not let that scare you away from this movie. J.R. Bonner is a well-known rodeo cowboy on the last legs of his rodeo career. Returning to his hometown of Prescott, Arizona for Frontier Days, the annual 4th of July celebration, Bonner finds that everything he knew before has changed. His father refuses to take responsibility for his life, instead always looking for a way to make easy money while alienating his wife. J.R.'s brother has become a real estate afficionado and is only worried about the bottom line. At the same time, JR has a burning desire to finish off strong by riding and conquering the rodeo's meanest bull for the full eight seconds. I was surprised how much I enjoyed this movie. It is a very understated, self-reflexive film, unlike some of Peckinpah's other films. It is an excellent story about changing times and a family's effort to survive those changes. If you like the teaming of star Steve McQueen and director Sam Peckinpah, check out their other collaboration together, The Getaway. I highly recommend both movies.
Steve McQueen is great as the quiet rodeo cowboy, Junior Bonner, who finds everything in his life is changing, and he can do very little about it. During his career, McQueen perfected the quiet, loner type, and this is a perfect example. Robert Preston is also very good as Ace Bonner, JR's father who refuses to let anyone or anything change him. Ida Lupino plays Elvira Bonner, JR's mother who will not forgive Ace for going out on his own and leaving his family. Peckinpah regular Ben Johnson plays Buck Roan, Junior's good friend and owner of the rodeo. Joe Don Baker plays Curly, Junior's real estate brother. The movie also stars Barbara Leigh, Mary Murphy, Bill McKinney, and Dub Taylor. The DVD offers widescreen presentation and commentary from three Sam Peckinpah biographers. For another great pairing of Steve McQueen and Sam Peckinpah, check out Junior Bonner!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Still workin' on 8 seconds...... Nov. 16 2002
As a big fan of film director Sam Peckinpah and actor Steve McQueen, I always thought I had seen their most substantial work. Much to my surprise, I viewed the 1972 film "Junior Bonner" for the first time recently and was stunned by its quality and depth. "Junior Bonner" is a terrific film, complete with Peckinpah's individualistic themes, McQueen's understated though electric presence, magnificient location detail, boozy saloons and elder statesmen (and women) coming to terms with a rapidly receding past.
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "There's One Of Him, and One of Me--" Feb. 3 2002
The true individual will carve out a niche for himself in life, and gravitate toward those endeavors or communities most conducive to maintaining that autonomy which is to that person, all important. For some, it can be a life's work, the occupation of seeking out and accepting whatever challenge will take them down their own road. And who could better personify such a man than Steve McQueen, who plays the title role in "Junior Bonner," director Sam Peckinpah's character study of a man so determined to live life on his own terms that the only challenge that means anything to him is the one he makes with himself. When Junior says, "Rodeo time, I gotta get it on down the road," it's his way of saying, "Life awaits." His life; and he's working it in such a way that whenever he gets to the end, he's going to be able to look back and say unequivocally, "I did it my way." That's the challenge. That's Junior Bonner.
He's been a rodeo cowboy most of his life; a former champion-- like his dad, Ace Bonner (Robert Preston)-- he's worn out and weary, but not down. The glory days may be behind him, but that's not what it was ever all about anyway, at least not for Junior. And who he is and what he's all about becomes perfectly clear when the circuit takes him back home to Prescott, Arizona, for a Fourth of July show. When he hits town, Junior approaches Buck Roan, the man who owns the rodeo stock and will be overseeing the draw for the bull ride; Junior wants to ride Sunshine, the meanest, toughest bull in the bunch, and he's willing to pay for the privilege-- he'll pay to ride the very bull that most cowboys would pay to stay off of. But the way Junior puts it, "There's one of him, and one of me.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Peckingpah�s unassuming contemporary western
Junior Bonner is one of Peckingpah's more personal films. Here, as in The Wild Bunch and Ride the High Country, he continues his exploration of men living in eras where their... Read more
Published on Nov. 1 2002 by Virgil
5.0 out of 5 stars King McQueen
I saw this with my father when I was a teenager as we are both fans of the western.The modern setting still makes it a classic western in my eyes . Read more
Published on Aug. 21 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars "I`m a rodeo man..."
For someone like me,who was unfamiliar with modern-day westerns until I watched "Junior Bonner",this was a very pleasant surprise. Read more
Published on Aug. 16 2002 by noregrets
5.0 out of 5 stars You Can't Take Your Eyes Off His!
Did Steve McQueen ever deliver a bad performance on film? This film is no exception. Although it is rarely shown on TV, due to its subject matter, and the huge popularity of... Read more
Published on Oct. 23 2001 by Robert M. Khoury
4.0 out of 5 stars An Easygoing, Charming Experience
If you're a McQueen fan (like me), order this DVD.
This is a secret gem because it is not frequently played on the air as are many McQueen movies. Read more
Published on Oct. 2 2001 by Albert J. Mora
5.0 out of 5 stars Modern Day Cowboy Picture
Good show with Steve McQueen as former rodeo champion Junior Bonner who is past his prime and at the crossroads of life on whether he'll retire, or continue chasing the... Read more
Published on July 28 2001 by D. Blackdeer
5.0 out of 5 stars Peckinpah in relaxed mode
Can Sam Peckinpah make a film about the human condition that doesn't involve bullets and bloodbaths? JUNIOR BONNER answers that question with an unequivocal "Yes! Read more
Published on July 18 2001 by Erik North
5.0 out of 5 stars Junior Bonner Worthing Watching
The movie opens with Junior Bonner (Steve McQueen), being thrown around by a big old bull named "Sunshine" and "he has never been rode" announces the presenter... Read more
Published on Jan. 11 2001 by John Edward Wright
3.0 out of 5 stars Unusual Peckinpah
It's hard to believe Sam Peckinpah directed this very calm and naturalistic movie. In some ways it seems more like a Robert Altman film, with it's easy going, almost... Read more
Published on Nov. 10 2000 by Stephen Reginald
1.0 out of 5 stars Where's the original music !
Published on May 30 2000
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