On Saturday evening I watched a Steve McQueen movie, “Junior Bonner.” I like this movie a lot. It has been a number of years since I last watched it. The movie stars McQueen in the title role. In the movie he plays a rodeo cowboy who travels from rodeo to rodeo in his old convertible, towing his horse trailer. He arrives in Prescott, Arizona, his home town,to take part in he rodeo. There he reconnects with his father Ace, played by Robert Preston; his mother Ellie, played by Ida Lupino; and his brother Curly, played by Joe Don Baker. There are other familiar faces in the cast, such as Dub Taylor as the bartender, Ben Johnson as Buck Roan, and Bill McKinney as a friendly rival in the rodeo.
Sam Peckinpah directed the movie. I must say that this was the least violent film directed by him that I can remember. In fact, there is only one person in the film whom I found to be unlikable. I don’t know, but you might even like that person.
Don’t get me wrong; there is conflict, but for the most part it takes place in the dialogue and shows in the acting. While some punches are thrown, nobody seems to hold a grudge. The most violent exchanges occur in the rodeo ring between cowboys and bulls.
Why do I like the movie? Part of the reason is the acting performances. Also, it was released back in the early 1970’s, before CGI took over the movie industry. Issues are raised that have no easy solutions, and the movie doesn’t pretend to have the solutions. In the end, McQueen’s character tries to do what he thinks is best for the individual members of his family. Who can do more than that?