Junior Bonner

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"Steve McQueen going down his own road, tougher than ever, as "Junior Bonner""
  • PG
  • 1972
  • 1 hr 40 min
  • 6.7  (6,774)

In the 1972 classic Western film, 'Junior Bonner,' Steve McQueen stars as a modern-day cowboy named Junior 'JR' Bonner. Directed by Sam Peckinpah, the movie follows JR as he travels from one rodeo to another, chasing his dreams of becoming a champion bull rider. Along the way, he confronts the harsh realities of his profession and struggles to reconnect with his estranged family.

The film opens with JR returning to his hometown of Prescott, Arizona, to compete in the annual Frontier Days Rodeo. However, he soon learns that his father, Ace (played by Robert Preston), has sold the family's ranch and plans to retire to the city with his new wife, Elvira (Ida Lupino). Ace offers JR a job in his trucking business, but JR declines, citing his loyalty to the rodeo and his desire to continue riding bulls.

Despite his father's disapproval, JR competes in the rodeo and manages to place in the top three. He also reunites with his old flame, Charmagne Dax (Barbara Leigh), who now works as a stripper in a local bar. The two share a brief moment of intimacy before Junior returns to the rodeo circuit.

As he travels from town to town, JR encounters various other rodeo performers, including a washed-up clown named Curly (Joe Don Baker) and a promising young bull rider named Wes (played by a young Tom Kinninmont). JR also comes face-to-face with the harsh realities of the rodeo world, as he witnesses the injuries and sacrifices that other performers have endured.

Despite these challenges, JR remains committed to his passion and continues to chase after his dream of becoming a champion bull rider. He also tries to reconnect with his family, particularly his father, whom he confronts about his decision to sell the ranch. In a poignant scene, Ace admits that he failed his family and regrets the choices he made, and JR forgives him and accepts that he cannot change the past.

The film culminates in a tense finale, as JR competes in the rodeo's bull-riding championship. Despite suffering a serious injury, he manages to stay on the bull for the required eight seconds, winning the competition and cementing his status as a rodeo legend. He also learns that Charmagne has decided to leave the town, and he prepares to continue his journey as a lone cowboy, chasing his dreams and seeking new adventures.

'Junior Bonner' is a poignant and powerful film that explores the complexities of the American West and the struggles of those who seek to make a life for themselves in it. The movie is anchored by Steve McQueen's brilliant performance as JR, a laconic and stoic cowboy whose passion for bull riding is matched only by his love for his family and his loyalty to his fellow performers. The supporting cast, including Robert Preston, Ida Lupino, and Joe Don Baker, also deliver excellent performances, bringing depth and realism to their characters.

Director Sam Peckinpah's masterful direction is also a highlight of the film, capturing the sights, sounds, and emotions of the rodeo world with a raw and gritty realism. The movie's iconic finale, in which JR rides to victory despite his injuries, is a powerful and emotional moment that perfectly encapsulates the themes and message of the film.

Overall, 'Junior Bonner' is a must-see film for fans of Westerns, sports movies, and character-driven dramas. With its unforgettable performances, stunning visuals, and powerful story, it remains a classic of its genre and a testament to the enduring spirit of the American cowboy.

Junior Bonner
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 40 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.7  (6,774)