- Junior Bonner
name = Junior Bonner
caption = A promotional film poster for "Junior Bonner".
producer = Joe Wizan
Ida Lupino Ben Johnson
editing = Frank Santillo
Robert L. Wolfe
August 2, 1972(USA)
runtime = 100 min.
country = USA
language = English
imdb_id = 0068786 |
"Junior Bonner" is a
western filmand melodramareleased in 1972 and starring Steve McQueen, Joe Don Baker, Robert Preston and Ida Lupino. The film focuses on a veteran rodeorider as he returns to his hometown of Prescott, Arizonato participate in an annual rodeo competition and reunite with his brother and estranged parents. Many critics consider it to be the warmest and most gentle of director Sam Peckinpah's films. [cite web |title=Internet Movie Database, "Junior Bonner" |work=imdb.com |url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0068786/ |accessdate=2007-10-11]
The central character, Junior "JR" Bonner (Steve McQueen), is a rodeo rider who is just "over the hill." During the opening credit sequence, we see Junior taping up his injuries after an unsuccessful ride on an ornery bull named Sunshine. He returns home to Prescott, Arizona for the
Independence Dayparade and rodeo. He arrives to find the family home being bulldozed by his younger brother Curly (Joe Don Baker), an entrepreneur and real-estate developer, in order to build ranch homes. His womanizing, good-for-nothing father Ace (Robert Preston) and down-to-earth, long-suffering mother Elvira (Ida Lupino) are estranged. Ace dreams of emigrating to Australiato rear sheep and mine gold, so he attempts to obtain financing from Junior. Junior bribes rodeo owner Buck Roan ( Ben Johnson) to let him ride Sunshine again, promising him half the prize money; and Junior actually manages to pull it off this time, going the full eight seconds on the bull. His last action in the film is to walk into a travel agent's office and buy his father a one-way, first-class ticket to Australia. The film's final shot shows JR leaving his hometown, his successful ride on Sunshine continuing to put off the inevitable end of his career.
The story explores one of Sam Peckinpah's favorite themes - the end of a traditional form of honor and the arrival of modern
capitalismon the western frontier. In a memorable scene, Ace and Junior escape from the rodeo parade on Junior's horse, ending up at a deserted railway station where they drink and despair at the state of the world and their indigency.
The film has enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in the mid-2000s because of
retrospectives and revival screenings of Sam Peckinpah's work and the screenplay's predictions regarding capitalist development. The story of Curly Bonner seems far more relevant today than it did in the early 1970s. [cite book |first=David |last=Weddle|authorlink= David Weddle| title="If They Move...Kill 'Em!"| publisher=Grove Press |year = 1994|pages=9-10. ISBN 0-8021-3776-8]
In May 1971, weeks after completing "
Straw Dogs" in England, Sam Peckinpahreturned to the United States to begin immediate work on "Junior Bonner". The lyrical screenplay by Jeb Rosenbrook, depicting the changing times of society and binding family ties, appealed to Peckinpah's tastes. He accepted the project, concerned with being typed as a director of violent action (at the time, " The Wild Bunch" was his most renowned film and "Straw Dogs" was in preparation to be released to theaters). "Junior Bonner" would be his final attempt to make a low-key, dramatic work in the vein of " Noon Wine" (1966) and " The Ballad of Cable Hogue" (1970). Filmed on location in Prescott, Arizona, Peckinpah utilized many colorful locales and residents as extras in the movie. [cite web |title=Internet Movie Database, Filming locations for "Junior Bonner" |work=imdb.com |url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0068786/locations |accessdate=2007-10-11] Due to a glut of rodeo-themed films released at that time, including "The Honkers" (1972), "J.W. Coop" (1972) and "When the Legends Die" (1972), "Junior Bonner" fell through the cracks and performed poorly at the box office. [cite web |title=Internet Movie Database, Box office/business for "Junior Bonner" |work=imdb.com |url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0068786/business |accessdate=2007-10-11] [cite web |title=Internet Movie Database, "The Honkers" |work=imdb.com |url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0068711/ |accessdate=2007-10-11] [cite web |title=Internet Movie Database, "J.W. Coop" |work=imdb.com |url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0067258/ |accessdate=2007-10-11] [cite web |title=Internet Movie Database, "When the Legends Die" |work=imdb.com |url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0069496/ |accessdate=2007-10-11] The film was unwisely promoted as a typical Steve McQueen action vehicle and critical reviews were mixed. [cite web |title=Roger Ebert, Film Review for "Junior Bonner" |work=suntimes.com |url=http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19720920/REVIEWS/209200301/1023 |date=September 20, 1972 |accessdate=2007-10-11] Peckinpah would remark, "I made a film where nobody got shot and nobody went to see it." Stinging from the failure of "Junior Bonner" but eager to work with Peckinpah again, McQueen presented him Walter Hill's screenplay to "The Getaway", which they would film months after completing "Junior Bonner". The second collaboration proved to be a financially successful one, as the action filmwould become one of the biggest box office successes of their careers. [cite book |first=David |last=Weddle|authorlink= David Weddle| title="If They Move...Kill 'Em!"| publisher=Grove Press |year = 1994|pages=428-434. ISBN 0-8021-3776-8] [cite book |first=Garner |last=Simmons|authorlink= Garner Simmons| title=Peckinpah, A Portrait in Montage| publisher=University of Texas Press |year = 1982|pages=139-153. ISBN 0-292-76493-6] [cite book |first=David |last=Weddle|authorlink= David Weddle| title="If They Move...Kill 'Em!"| publisher=Grove Press |year = 1994|pages=434. ISBN 0-8021-3776-8]
*imdb title|id=0068786|title=Junior Bonner
* [http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?_r=1&res=EE05E7DF1738E769BC4B53DFBE668389669EDE&oref=slogin Vincent Canby review of "Junior Bonner"]
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