Junior Bonner (1972)

PG | 100 or 102 mins | Drama | June 1972

Director:

Sam Peckinpah

Writer:

Jeb Rosebrook

Producer:

Joe Wizan

Cinematographer:

Lucien Ballard

Production Designer:

Edward S. Haworth

Production Companies:

Solar Productions, Inc., ABC Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

Although online copyright records list American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. as the copyright claimant, an onscreen copyright statement reads: "Copyright MCMLXXII by ABC Pictures Corp., Wizan Productions and Solar Productions, Inc." The end credits conclude with the following written statement: "Our thanks to the people of Prescott, Arizona, and in particular William Pierce, for their cooperation in the making of this film." Pierce was a local offical in Prescott. As noted in reviews and news items, the entire film was shot on location in and around Prescott, AZ. Much of the film action centers on events surrounding The Prescott Frontier Days rodeo, which takes place annually over the Fourth of July and is billed as the "World's Oldest Rodeo."
       Significant footage of the 84th rodeo, which was held in 1971, as well as Prescott's Frontier Days Parade, was incorporated into the film, with scenes of Steve McQueen, Robert Preston and others in the cast participating in or viewing the actual events. The Palace Bar, which was built in 1900, was used for both interiors and exteriors, as were other landmarks within a section of Prescott known as "Old Town." Real-life rodeo star Casey Tibbs briefly appeared as himself, as well as acting as the film's rodeo consultant.
       At several points within the film, particularly in the opening shots, under which the credits are presented, there are brief black-and-white sequences and flashbacks of the rodeo at which "Junior 'JR' Bonner" is thrown by the bull "Sunshine." Some of the shots briefly flash across the screen, while others last for several seconds. Some of the Frontier Days rodeo sequences are presented as ... More Less

Although online copyright records list American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. as the copyright claimant, an onscreen copyright statement reads: "Copyright MCMLXXII by ABC Pictures Corp., Wizan Productions and Solar Productions, Inc." The end credits conclude with the following written statement: "Our thanks to the people of Prescott, Arizona, and in particular William Pierce, for their cooperation in the making of this film." Pierce was a local offical in Prescott. As noted in reviews and news items, the entire film was shot on location in and around Prescott, AZ. Much of the film action centers on events surrounding The Prescott Frontier Days rodeo, which takes place annually over the Fourth of July and is billed as the "World's Oldest Rodeo."
       Significant footage of the 84th rodeo, which was held in 1971, as well as Prescott's Frontier Days Parade, was incorporated into the film, with scenes of Steve McQueen, Robert Preston and others in the cast participating in or viewing the actual events. The Palace Bar, which was built in 1900, was used for both interiors and exteriors, as were other landmarks within a section of Prescott known as "Old Town." Real-life rodeo star Casey Tibbs briefly appeared as himself, as well as acting as the film's rodeo consultant.
       At several points within the film, particularly in the opening shots, under which the credits are presented, there are brief black-and-white sequences and flashbacks of the rodeo at which "Junior 'JR' Bonner" is thrown by the bull "Sunshine." Some of the shots briefly flash across the screen, while others last for several seconds. Some of the Frontier Days rodeo sequences are presented as stop-action shots and montages of the various rodeo performers as they participate in the events, with the sound of the rodeo buzzer punctuating each contestant's fall. At various points throughout the film, as JR thinks about his fall from Sunshine, there are flashbacks to the earlier scene.
       Junior Bonner marked the first of two back-to-back collaborations between star Steve McQueen and director Sam Peckinpah. Following completion of Junior Bonner , the actor and director made The Getaway , released in Dec 1972 (see above). Many modern sources have stated that Peckinpah, whose previous film was Straw Dogs (see below), a picture considered one of the most violent of the era, had wanted to make a different, gentler film when ABC Pictures executive Martin Baum approached him to direct Junior Bonner . Many reviewers commented on the break from the violence of Straw Dogs , The Wild Bunch (see below) and other recent Peckinpah films. The sentiment was typified by New Republic critic Stanley Kaufman, who wrote: "It looks as if Peckinpah has been listening to his critics...He doesn't have much range, but at least he's home on it."
       Junior Bonner was the last production of ABC Pictures Corp., a division of the ABC Television network. The film marked Preston's first film appearance since playing the lead in All the Way Home (1963, see above). After many years acting exclusively on the stage, following his appearance in Junior Bonner , Preston continued to appear both in films and on television until shortly before his death in 1987. Ida Lupino had been absent from feature films since Strange Intruder (1956, see below), although she had acted and directed for television throughout the 1950s and 1960s, and directed her last feature film, The Trouble with Angels , in 1966 (see below). Lupino acted in additional films and television programs until the late 1970s.
       Matthew Peckinpah, who portrayed one of the Bonner grandchildren, was director Sam Peckinpah's son. Modern sources include Wayne McLaren, Johnnie Mullens and director Peckinpah and his wife Sharon in the cast as bar patrons.
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
26 Jun 1972.
---
Daily Variety
22 Jun 1971.
---
Daily Variety
9 Jun 1972.
---
Filmfacts
1972
pp. 410-13.
Films & Filming
Sep 1972.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jul 1971
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Aug 1971.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Aug 1971
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jun 1972
p. 3, 13.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jun 1972.
---
Life
11 Aug 1972.
---
Los Angeles Examiner
21 Jun 1972.
---
Los Angeles Times
21 Jun 1972.
---
New Republic
2 Sep 1972.
---
New York Times
3 Aug 1972
p. 24.
New Yorker
12 Aug 1972.
---
Newsweek
19 Jun 1972.
---
Saturday Review
29 Jul 1972.
---
Time
26 Jul 1972
p. 68.
Variety
14 Jun 1972
p. 18.
Variety
31 May 1973
p. 3.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Joe Wizan--Booth Gardner Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
Asst dir
Asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Key grip
Dolly grip
Grip
Grip
Best boy grip
Gaffer
Still photog
Lamp op
Lamp op
Lamp op
Lamp op
Lamp op
Generator op
Generator op
Best boy
Cam asst
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set des
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const foreman
Standby painter
COSTUMES
Men's ward
Women's ward
SOUND
Re-rec mixer
Sd boom man
VISUAL EFFECTS
Title des
Titles by
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Prod mgr
Prods asst
Prods asst
Prods asst
Prod secy
Scr supv
Dial coach
Loc asst
Rodeo coord
Loc auditor
Transportation capt
Transportation co-capt
Timekeeper
Craft service
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Barroom brawl choreographer
SOURCES
SONGS
"Bound to Be Back Again," words and music by Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter, sung by Alex Taylor, courtesy of Capricorn Records
"Arizona Morning" and "Rodeo Man," words and music by Rod Hart, sung by Rod Hart.
PERFORMERS
DETAILS
Release Date:
June 1972
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Dallas, TX: 11 June 1972
Los Angeles opening: 21 June 1972
Production Date:
30 June--14 August 1971 in Prescott, AZ
Copyright Claimant:
American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.
Copyright Date:
11 June 1972
Copyright Number:
LP45553
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Movielab Color; with b&w seq
Widescreen/ratio
Todd-AO 35
Duration(in mins):
100 or 102
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
23893
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Aging rodeo star Junior Bonner decides to return to his hometown of Prescott, Arizona to enter the town's annual Frontier Days rodeo. Hurt from being thrown by a bull in his last rodeo, the affable but broke Junior, whom most people call "JR," borrows money from friends to pay his entrance fee to some of the events, including a wild-cow-milking contest, which he hopes to win with the help of his father, Ace. When Junior goes to see Ace, he finds his ramshackle cabin deserted and in the process of being razed by earthmovers. He then goes to see his mother, Elvira, who has long been estranged from Ace, and lives in town, forced to take in boarders and grow her own vegetables to get by. "Ellie" tells JR that because Ace was hurt in a car accident while driving drunk, she is looking after his dog while he is in the hospital. Ellie also reveals that JR's brother Curly, a successful real estate developer who bought Ace's ranch for a below-market price, wants her to sell her house and collection of antiques to move out to a mobile home park he is developing called Reate Rancheroes. Although she seems resigned to this, JR is unhappy. While JR goes to the rodeo to borrow money and pay entrance fees for several events for himself, as well as the event with Ace, who was a former top rodeo star, Ace tries to convince Curly to lend him money to go to Australia, where he is certain that he can become a successful silver prospector. Curly refuses, insisting that a weekly allowance is all ... +


Aging rodeo star Junior Bonner decides to return to his hometown of Prescott, Arizona to enter the town's annual Frontier Days rodeo. Hurt from being thrown by a bull in his last rodeo, the affable but broke Junior, whom most people call "JR," borrows money from friends to pay his entrance fee to some of the events, including a wild-cow-milking contest, which he hopes to win with the help of his father, Ace. When Junior goes to see Ace, he finds his ramshackle cabin deserted and in the process of being razed by earthmovers. He then goes to see his mother, Elvira, who has long been estranged from Ace, and lives in town, forced to take in boarders and grow her own vegetables to get by. "Ellie" tells JR that because Ace was hurt in a car accident while driving drunk, she is looking after his dog while he is in the hospital. Ellie also reveals that JR's brother Curly, a successful real estate developer who bought Ace's ranch for a below-market price, wants her to sell her house and collection of antiques to move out to a mobile home park he is developing called Reate Rancheroes. Although she seems resigned to this, JR is unhappy. While JR goes to the rodeo to borrow money and pay entrance fees for several events for himself, as well as the event with Ace, who was a former top rodeo star, Ace tries to convince Curly to lend him money to go to Australia, where he is certain that he can become a successful silver prospector. Curly refuses, insisting that a weekly allowance is all that he will give to his father. Later, Ace sneaks out of his hospital bed, to the annoyance of Nurse Arlis, with whom Ace has been having a flirtation. JR comes to the hospital after Ace has left, but father and son eventually meet during the Frontier Days opening parade, where Ace, a popular local hero, is enthusiastically applauded by the crowd, including Ellie. When Ace and JR sit down and talk at the town's old train station, JR soon realizes that Ace's dreams of becoming a successful prospector will never come true and, like all of his other dreams, will fail because of gambling or women. That night, Curly, his wife Ruth and their two children have dinner with Ellie and JR. Curly's brittle wife dislikes JR, as well as the more old-fashioned way of life that he, Ellie and Ace have lived. After dinner, when JR and Curly start to talk about why Curly bought Ace's ranch for such a small price, Curly says that Ace would have gambled away more if he had paid more, prompting JR to start a fight, which ends when Curly is thrown through the dining room window. The next day, JR briefly leads in the cattle-roping event, but another contestant wins. In the chaotic wild-cow-milking contest, JR and Ace have the fastest time in collecting milk in an empty Coca-Cola bottle, but on the way to the judge's stand, Ace trips over his rambunctious dog, which has wandered into the arena, and spills the milk. When the disappointed Ace tells JR that they could have won, his son puts his arm around him and reassuringly says, "We did." Later, the Palace Bar is filled with revellers drinking, dancing and having a good time. As Ace, JR and Buck talk at the bar, Curly, Ruth and their children arrive, accompanied by Ellie. Although nervous, Ellie and Ace greet each other warmly and JR reminds Ace that he always has the first dance with her. As the couple tentatively dances, Curly and JR talk companionably, then Curly punches JR and knocks him down in retaliation for the fight the day before. JR merely smiles, gets up and amiably asks Curly if he wants a beer. Curly then tells his brother that he loves him and does not care how many lots he sells but wants to keep his family close. Though grateful, JR tells him that he has to go down his own road. Moments later, Charmagne, a pretty woman who had been flirting with JR earlier, enters the bar with her rich boyfriend. JR goes to their table and asks her to dance, angering her boyfriend, who grudgingly allows him to have one dance. On the dance floor, JR denies Red the chance to cut in, but when he sees the boyfriend coming toward them, suddenly changes partners with Red, making Red the target of the boyfriend's wrath. The two men begin a brawl that quickly turns into a melee involving both men and women. While JR and Charmagne take refuge in a telephone booth, Curly and some others slip into the ladies room, and Ace and Ellie walk outside. On the outside staircase of the Palace Hotel, Ellie slaps Ace's face when he asks her to go with him to Australia. Realizing that they can never live together again but will always love each other, Ace and Ellie agree that they at least have the day, and go upstairs to a room. Later, at the final events of the rodeo, JR nervously takes his position on Sunshine, waiting for the bull-riding contest. Though haunted by thoughts of being thrown by the bull the previous week, JR maintains his composure and when it is his turn, he has the winning time for bull-riding, thus winning the $950 prize money and enthusiastic cheers from the crowd. Later, JR takes Charmagne to the airport and says goodbye, with both knowing that, despite their burgeoning feelings, they will never see each other again. JR then drives to Ellie's house to say goodbye, after which he goes to a travel agent and pays cash for a first class, one-way ticket to Australia for Ace and his dog. When the agent asks who she should say bought the ticket, he says, "Tell him JR sent you," then drives out of town. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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