Junior Bonner (1972)

PG   |    |  Drama, Western

Junior Bonner (1972) Poster

Ace Bonner returns to Arizona several years after he abandoned his family, Junior Bonner is a wild young man. Against the typical rodeo championship, family drama erupts.


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22 January 2004 | IwasSquidly
Nostalgic snapshot of Prescott
I first heard of this film on a trip to Prescott for the 1973 rodeo. Three days of hard liquor, sex and wild livestock (I had sat out Woodstock in an NYC jail and had to make do) Of course the film was all the buzz but the highlight of '73 was an ill-advised visit by a chapter of Hell's Angels who didn't know the locals carried side arms. They had a most humiliating exit. The former territorial capitol, a moribund Prescott sat between the exhausted gold fields in the mountains and the ranches suffering from poor beef prices out on the high prairie. The Palace Bar was the queen of a raucous grouping of saloons on Whiskey Row. A place to rub elbows with crazed prospectors and working cowboys. The town's only nod to modernity was a Western Auto Parts store and Sears Catalog outlet...I don't think they had a McDonalds.

Today the faceless crowd savors its victory. The ranchers cried "uncle" and gave in to the developers or joined them. Whiskey Row in name only the bars have become boutiques and the Palace is a salad bar. The city groans in gridlock under the traffic of her sprawling suburbs. Street widening has obliterated the familiar or bypassed now inaccessable charms. Strip malls and the usual fast food joints line the approaches for miles and miles. A flood of California retirees have raised the costs and codes to push Jo Don Baker's trailers to rural ghettos ranging thirty and forty miles out. Phoenicians have taken the old gold camps for summer homes and condos. The once unbroken mountain views and sweep of prairie are dappled blurs of asphalt shingle, stucco and neon. A straggling herd of antelope (a protected species) are under edict of removal in one housing developement and if Junior Bonner comes back to town he better be driving an Escalade.

The film is a poignant story proven true. I haven't the heart to revisit the rodeo.

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