Junior Bonner (1972) - Rotten Tomatoes

Junior Bonner1972

Junior Bonner (1972)



Critic Consensus: A strong central performance from Steve McQueen and absorbingly contemplative direction from Sam Peckinpah make rodeo drama Junior Bonner a classic character study.

Junior Bonner Photos

Movie Info

Junior Bonner is a rodeo film which for several reasons is more than usually interesting. One is that it is directed by Sam Peckinpah (The Wild Bunch), another is that Steve McQueen plays Junior. The film also features a decent script and a strong supporting cast (Ida Lupino, Robert Preston). Junior has been out of touch with his family for some time. When he returns home to Arizona, he is shocked to discover that his parents are splitting up, and his brother (Joe Don Baker) is making a fortune by selling the family ranch for real-estate developments. He gets a bug in his ear about the local rodeo, and decides to compete, inspiring a brief family reunion in the process.


Steve McQueen
as Junior 'JR' Bonner
Robert Preston
as Ace Bonner
Ida Lupino
as Elvira Bonner
Ben Johnson
as Buck Roan
Joe Don Baker
as Curly Bonner
Barbara Leigh
as Charmagne
Mary Murphy
as Ruth Bonner
Bill McKinney
as Red Terwiliger
Sandra Deel
as Nurse Arlis
Don 'Red' Barry
as Homer Rutledge
Sundown Spencer
as Nick Bonner
Rita Garrison
as Flashy Girl in Bar
Casey Tibbs
as Parade Grand Marshal
Rod Hart
as Himself
View All

Critic Reviews for Junior Bonner

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (8)

[Steve] McQueen's reticent personality and hypnotic physical grace are in perfect service, and the air of authenticity is stinging.

May 30, 2018 | Full Review…

The historical moment is precious, as its only constant is flux.

August 9, 2015 | Full Review…

Sam Peckinpah's reputation for violence is herein exorcised in the rodeo and brawl sequences. Audiences which consider such rough-and-tumble as innocuous, vicarious ventilation will get their fill, though others may perceive a bit more.

March 26, 2009 | Full Review…

The movie simply never comes together and works as a whole. The material is terribly thin.

October 23, 2004 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

[An] untypically gentle Peckinpah film.

October 1, 2003 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Junior Bonner, based on an excellent original screenplay by Jeb Rosebrook, is Peckinpah in the benignly comic mood that, I suspect, is much more the natural fashion of this fine director than is the gross, intellectualized mayhem.

May 20, 2003 | Rating: 4/5

Audience Reviews for Junior Bonner

Junior Bonner works if you look at it as a bunch of good scenes but as a whole movie its not that great. I would call this more of a Steve McQueen movie than a Sam Peckinpah film (as McQueen's presence for the most part carries it.) Robert Preston and Ida Lupino as McQueen's parents manage to steal every scene they're in (same for Charmagne.) Unfortunately the story never really figures out what it wants to do but the bar fight towards the end was a nice distraction from that fact. It looks like it could be about the death of The Old West for a few minutes but it turned into this goofy, folksy prodigal son kind of thing that turned into a day at the rodeo by default. A lot of little unspoken things are never tied up or explained (the movie wasn't clever, coy or sly enough to give the audience the impression this was done intentionally) and the end just... kind of happened as opposed to having been built up to. I love that Sam Peckinpah did this type of movie, but I just wish it was better.

Michael Gildea
Michael Gildea

Super Reviewer

How much you enjoy the film overall depends on your interest or affection for the rodeo but there are some really fine performances. McQueen is fine but Robert Preston and Ida Lupino really take acting honors as his parents. The scene between them on the stairs is an example of what great actors can do to make characters live on the screen. Something that helps sell the story is that the two of them really look like they could be Steve's parents. A subtle drama of the kind that is rarely made today.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

Junior Bonner Quotes

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