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 Day parade 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. (An interesting sidelight: both Preston and Lupino were born in 1918, making them just twelve years older than McQueen.) Ace dreams of emigrating to Australia to 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.