The latterday film genre of misunderstood-rodeo-drifter gets one of its best expositions in Junior Bonner. Steve McQueen stars handily in the title role.
Jeb Rosebrook’s original screenplay, combined with uniformly adroit casting and sensitive direction, has the virtues of solid construction and economy of dialog. To be sure, the plot is somewhat biased in favor of the restless wanderings of McQueen, in that the alternatives are nearly caricature conformity; but overall there is a good balance.
Filmed in and around Prescott, Arizona, the film depicts the efforts of McQueen to look good in his hometown rodeo.
Director 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.