Seen that!

A film and DVD blog

Junior Bonner (1972)

without comments

Concept: A gentler 'end of an era' film from Sam Peckinpah.

Steve McQueen is in the title role, a fading rodeo rider, moving from event to event. Injured in one when thrown by a bull, he goes to visit his father but discovers that the house is being demolished to make way for a gravel pit owned by his brother, Joe Don Baker.

His father is recovering in hospital – he wants to go to Australia, but has spent the money from Baker and McQueen is broke. The two brothers fight, with Baker punched through a window.

Believing he can be the first to conquer the bull that threw him, McQueen bribes the rodeo owner to rig the draw for that event. With that done, he and his father ride out of the promotional Independence Day parade to get a drink.

Come the rodeo, McQueen just fails to win two events before it's time to see if he can last the full eight seconds on the bull…

What's good: Peckinpah's use of slow motion is as good as ever, except here it's used for machinery vs a home and man vs horse/cow/bull rather than people being shot.

There's a nice sense of humour – an extended bar fight is stopped by the band playing The Star Spangled Banner.

Some of the best of the story-telling is done very economically: we see how successful McQueen isn't by comparing his car and horse trailer with a rival who over takes him.

What's not so good: It wasn't what the audience was expecting: action and killing.

Too much of the story-telling is too slow moving: there's a lot of padding.

Music: Forgettable.

Miscellany: While some of the catching cows rodeo footage visibly do involve McQueen, the shots of 'him' on a bucking horse or bull are clearly a stunt man: they're shot from much further away than all those of the other contestants and 'his' face is obscured.

Overall: It's a kinder, gentler end of an era film from Peckinpah – it's a PG! – and the more violent films are better.

There was one quote I was tempted to add to this, but I could not be bothered to go back to find it (and IMDB doesn't have it either…)

There are better Peckinpah films, better Steve McQueen films, and a better Peckinpah film with Steve McQueen, but if you're not in the mood for a bloodbath, this is the one for you with another effortlessly cool performance from McQueen.

TL;DR Once is enough, but worth seeing once

Film: 2.5/5
DVD: 1/5

OK, I saw it via a cover disk, originally free with a newspaper, but the 4:3 format ruins the cinematography.

The region 2 (also 4:3) and, ah ha, it looks like you need to get the US version:

Written by Ian

November 30th, 2011 at 10:52 pm

Posted in Cinema,DVDs

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