Retro: our movie & TV vault... a fresh look
at neglected classics and cult favourites
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.