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Junior Bonner
cast: Steve McQueen, Robert Preston, Ida Lupino, Ben Johnson, and Joe Don Baker

director: Sam Peckinpah

100 minutes (PG) 1972
Film Collection DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Jeff Young
The easygoing charm of Steve McQueen's titular rodeo cowboy shines in this laidback but sparkling comedy drama, filmed in Arizona. It has a 'Frontier Days' street parade, a saloon brawl, romance among the denim and stetsons, parental estrangement, and central characters born - perhaps - a century too late.
   There are convincing performances from Robert Preston and Ida Lupino, as the prodigal Junior's parents, and a standout turn from Joe Don Baker, while Barbara Leigh provides the necessary glamour as McQueen's love-interest. This isn't a great film by any stretch of the imagination, but it remains one of director Peckinpah's most perfectly realised 'westerns' because of its welcome lack of self-reverential stylisation in the editing or visuals - apart from some split-screen work during the opening credits sequence, and the sharp cutting and elegiac slow-motion during the actual rodeo contest.
   If you're a Peckinpah or McQueen fan, though, it's well worth another look. DVD extras: sadly, presentation is full-screen 4:3 instead of the film's original widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Special features include text biographies of star and director (plus a collection of their most famous quotes), a photo gallery, and production notes - which consist of yet more background trivia about McQueen.

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