I watched this film a long time ago as part of a film studies course, and was more than pleasantly surprised. It is nothing like the typical Sam Peckinpah action vehicles that he is so rightly famed for. This is a different breed of animal altogether. It concentrates on family relationships and changing times. The second theme being a popular one in Peckinpah's films.
The film commences with Junior JR Bonner played by Steve McQueen, recovering from a bruising rodeo encounter with a bull called Sunshine. He then returns to his hometown of Prescott Arizona to rejoin his dysfunctional family. Ace his father, played quite brilliantly by Robert Preston is a good for nothing womaniser who still lives with his long suffering wife Elvira played by Ida Lupino. Joe Don Baker turns up as Juniors younger brother Curly, who is more intent on bulldozing the family home to raise hard cash. The film is touching at times in the interplay between Father and son. Ace dreams of emigrating to Australia. Junior decides to ride Sunshine one more time to make the dream come true.
This film failed badly at the box office and slipped off the cinematic radar for a long time. It was only recently in Peckinpah retrospectives that it has been recognised for what it is. A wonderful film that scratches beneath the surface of relationships. The film was marketed as a McQueen action vehicle on its release which would certainly have dissapointed many. But looking at it now it has dated surprisingly well. This is a fine film that deserves to be much better known. Highly recommended viewing and worth every star.
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