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A week with Junior Bonner, a rodeo pro on the wrong side of 40, broke, bruised, and headed into Prescott, his home town, for the annual 4th of July Frontier Days. His dad, Ace, is a dissolute dreamer fixed on finding gold in Australia; his mom is resigned to Ace's roving; his brother Curly is tearing up the countryside to make a million in real estate. Junior just wants to stay on a bucking Brahma for eight seconds, hang out with Ace, find a way to spend time with a beautiful woman whose eyes catch his, and earn enough to get to next week's rodeo. As the old West and its code give way to progress, Junior is lonesome, laconic, and on the road - just where he wants to be. Written by
Joe Don Baker and Sam Peckinpah reportedly did not get along while filming. Baker had this to say on Peckinpah:
"I didn't care for Peckinpah at all. He was one of those little guys who tries to bully big guys and he almost got his ass whipped for trying to do it to me. Every time I was going to throttle Peckinpah, Steve McQueen would come over and calm me down like a brother would." See more »
About 20 minutes into the movie, Junior is drinking a beer at the bar. Just before he walks over to the booth to talk with Buck, Homer offers to buy him another beer, Junior tells him to leave it on the bar, and then Junior walks to the booth. We see Del, the bartender, put the beer on the bar, next to another beer, but we see Junior carrying his first beer with him. See more »
I grew up with these people, and watched, with them, the end of the mythic West and the beginning of traffic-clogged urban West. When Junior watches the bulldozers flattening the old ranch, I can empathise completely.
This is a melancholy film, superbly acted (everyone was completely authentic in the movie), and a tragic document of the West as it once was, when there were stll heroic bull riders and classic vistas unpolluted by smog.
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