Moviedrome Mondays: Junior Bonner (1972)

Since I could not find a youtube video link to Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox’s introduction to legendary macho director Sam Peckinpah’s underrated 1972 Neo-western rodeo drama Junior Bonner, readers will have to rely on Cox’s intro transcript (read here). The episode’s original airdate was June 7, 1992 (read here). Not much to add here, except that I agree with all of Cox’s sentiments on this overlooked gem. If any of you readers are interested, here is a link to my favorite Sam Peckinpah films (read here).

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer


18 thoughts on “Moviedrome Mondays: Junior Bonner (1972)

  1. Hi John. I haven’t seen this movie yet but it’s on my watch list for a number of reasons. I’ve been reading about and watching a number of films and tv shows with (and by) Ida Lupino. On set she was probably one of the few actor/directors who was regarded with such affection. Didn’t she gave Peckinpah his writing break in the late 40s/early 50s? However I believe there was a falling out – although my memory is a little hazy about why. Was he particularly unpleasant to her? Lupino is also credited as being the first woman to act in and direct a movie – The Bigamist. This starred Joan Fontaine and Edmond O’Brien who she directed in The Hitchhiker. I’m now going to see if Junior Bonner is on one of the myriad tv/film platforms we have!

  2. On release, I didn’t take to this film, as Rodeo is not something that has a following in Britain. However, years later, I came to appreciate Steve’s outstanding performance in the role.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  3. I’ve seen this movie, John, but it’s been so long ago that I don’t remember much about it. That probably means that I didn’t like it much at the time and that I need to revisit it as a more discerning adult.

  4. Never watched Junior Bonner but I know that it was one of McQueen’s better performances. I see Ida Lupino was a co-star but did you know she was a very good director in her own right?

  5. I agree Junior Bonner is an overlooked gem, it’s also a great time capsule of Prescott Arizona. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Steve McQueen more in character and has some very touching scenes with has co-stars Ida Lupino and Robert Preston. I’m always grateful Moviedrome introduced me to films like this.

  6. Directed by Peck. Heck of a cast. McQueen was one of those actors that liked to do a lot of their own stunts, but I’m darn sure they wouldn’t let him ride any broncs. Movie does give some insight into a unique lifestyle though. That’s still a way of life for some people. Has to be or you can’t do it.
    As a kid I recall him from the TV Western Trackdown. He was truly a rebellious character, but paid his dues. Died too young.

  7. Ida Lupino did give Sam Peckinpah his writing break indeed Sarah. According to IMDB’s trivia for Junior Bonner, she hired him to work on a 1957 sitcom that she was involved in called “Mr. Adams and Mrs. Eve”. Lupino hired Peckinpah after discovering that he was living in a shack behind her property. It has been alleged from the same source, that Peckinpah repaid Lupino by casting her in a supporting role in Junior Bonner. I do not know If they had a falling out, I will need to do more research on that. I am aware though that Ida Lupino was one of the first women to act and direct as well. I have seen both The Hitch-hiker and The Bigamist and I love them both. Speaking of the former, that one entered America’s National Film Registry back in 1998 – high praise indeed. Anyway, thanks for dropping by and here is that link about Lupino and Peckinpah that I told you about 🙂

  8. I am aware that Ida Lupino doubled as a director 🙂 1953’s The Hitch-hiker and The Bigamist rank as her greatest films as a director in my opinion. Anyway, thanks for dropping by 🙂

  9. As I told Pete above Paul, Junior Bonner may be lead actor Steve McQueen’s finest hour as an actor. he also gets welcome support from Ida Lupino and Robert Preston as you so eloquently state. Anyway, thanks for dropping by 🙂

  10. For me and you jcalberta, Peckinpah is one of the greats 🙂 Steve McQueen was undeniably the “King of Cool” and Junior Bonner may be his finest hour as an actor. It is sad that McQueen died young. I think he passed away back in 1980. and I do recall that McQueen was on that Western television series Trackdown. Anyway, thanks for dropping by 🙂

  11. Thanks for the information there, I look forward to reading it. I’m aware of the sitcom but have never seen it. I didn’t realise that Peckinpah was hired to work there. I did know she had a history of taking in waifs and strays! Falling out is perhaps too strong a phrase? I believe their directing styles were very different. Lupino had a reputation for being more nurturing. Peckinpah maybe didn’t afford Lupino the same courtesy, but perhaps we’ll never know for sure! Both of those movies are excellent and a tremendous accolade for her to be entered into the registry. Lupino was born and raised near to where I currently live. I’m always interested to discover a little more about British actors who make the break into Hollywood.

  12. Very interesting information about Ida Lupino and Peckinpah. I love hearing stories like that. A friend let Dan O’Bannon crash on his couch when he was at a low point. That’s where he wrote Alien. Both Miley Cyrus’s father and Sam Worthington were living in their cars before they got their break. Magic does happen sometimes!
    As for Junior Bonnor and Mr. McQueen, I’m in the dark completely. You paint him in alluring colors for this role; I’ll try to see it one day. I’ll definitely remember the title if/when I come across it. 🙂 🙂

  13. Interesting stories there about Dan O’Bannon, Billy Ray Cyrus and Sam Worthington 🙂 Great to see that all of them got their big breaks 🙂 Anyway, thanks for dropping by 🙂

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