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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Junior Bonner [Blu-ray]

 

(Sam Peckinpah, 1972)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Solar Productions

Video: Kino Lorber

 

Disc:

Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:40:15.009 

Disc Size: 45,038,119,108 bytes

Feature Size: 22,447,933,440 bytes

Video Bitrate: 26.44 Mbps

Chapters: 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: October 31st, 2017

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1556 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1556 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), None

 

Extras:

• Audio Commentary by Sam Peckinpah Authors Paul Seydor, Garner Simmons and David Weddle, moderated by Film Historian Nick Redman

PASSION & POETRY RODEO TIME (Documentary with screenwriter Jeb Rosebrook, Katy Haber, Ali MacGraw, Garner Simmons, L.Q. Jones) 55:50
PASSION & POETRY PECKINPAH ANECDOTES (Short documentary with Ernest Borgnine, James Coburn, Kris Kristofferson, Ali MacGraw, Isela Vega, L.Q. Jones, R.G. Armstrong, Bo Hopkins and David Warner) 25:42
JUNIOR BONNER TRIVIA (cameos, in-jokes & more) 4:46
JUNIOR BONNER REMEMBERED (4th of July rodeo 2016, featurette by Keith Woods & Alyson Titkemeyer) 3:00
JUNIOR BONNER on the set (Animated Image Gallery) 5:04
JUNIOR BONNER in Pictures (Animated Image Gallery) 4:51
JUNIOR BONNER Posters & Lobby Cards (Animated Image Gallery) 5 Min
-US Theatrical Trailer (2:30)
2 US Radio Spots (1:59)
US TV Spot (0:31)
Convoy and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia trailers
Reversible Blu-ray Art

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Screen icon Steve McQueen (Love with the Proper Stranger, Bullitt) is at his rugged best in this totally captivating tale of a fading rodeo champion from acclaimed director Sam Peckinpah (The Getaway, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, Convoy). With his bronco-busting career on its last legs, Junior Bonner (McQueen) heads to his hometown to try his luck in the annual rodeo. But his fond childhood memories are shattered when he finds his family torn apart by his greedy brother (Joe Don Baker, Framed) and hard-drinking father (Robert Preston, The Music Man). Now Junior must break the wildest bull in the West to bring his family together for one final moment of cowboy glory in the roughest, rowdiest ride of his life! Junior Bonner is an extraordinarily graceful yet unflinching rendering of a slice of Americana, beautifully shot by the great Lucien Ballard (The Ballad of Cable Hogue) and featuring a top-notch cast which also includes Ida Lupino (Road House), Ben Johnson (The Wild Bunch), Mary Murphy (Beachhead), Dub Taylor (Burnt Offerings), Don Red Barry (Shalako) and Bill McKinney (Deliverance).

 

 

The Film:

Sam Peckinpah eschews his slow-motion bullet ballets for this quiet character study of ex-rodeo cowboy turned drifter Junior Bonner (Steve McQueen), who returns home to Arizona to reconcile with the family he hasn't seen in years. Bonner is shocked to see that the solid family he was hoping to come back to is breaking apart. His parents, Ace (Robert Preston) and Elvira (Ida Lupino), have separated, and his brother Curley (Joe Don Baker) has turned into a heartless real estate tycoon, parceling off sections of his parent's land for quick money. With nowhere to turn and nowhere to run, Bonner has to face himself and try to find a way to regain his self-respect. He is given that opportunity at the town's Fourth of July Rodeo, where he is determined to mount and ride and unrideable bull.

Excerpt from B+N located HERE

Peckinpah coasting enjoyably between Straw Dogs and The Getaway with an elegiac reworking of Nick Ray's The Lusty Men, an alternately wistful and raucous family Western about the shrinking frontiers of the rodeo circuit and the anachronism of honour (a suited middle-class horseman rides by with The Wild Bunch embroidered on his saddle-blanket). Some of the symbolism's a bit heavy-handed (wild bulls: bulldozers), but the performances are finely affecting, and Peckinpah captures the contradictory flavours of the new west with a multi-camera set-up at the real Prescott, Arizona rodeo and judicious use of split screen.

Excerpt from TImeOut located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The, much anticipated, dual-layered Kino Lorber Blu-ray of Junior Bonner looks very pleasing and consistent in 1080P. Fans have lived with poor quality DVDs for years - waxy, flat, soft and even cropped. The HD transfer is in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, holds the textures and film-like heaviness well while colors appear true and unembellished. There is depth but detail is never dynamically crisp. This Blu-ray probably gives a very accurate presentation when compared to the theatrical appearance. I was pleased with the consistency and overall image quality in-motion.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Kino Lorber use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track at 1556 kbps (16-bit) in the original English language. There are plenty of rodeo-related sounds in the film - and crowded bar scenes. They sound supportive in the lossless. Jerry Fielding's (Scorpio, The Wild Bunch, Straw Dogs, The Killer Elite, The Mechanic, Kolchak: The Night Stalker and The Getaway) score is perfect for the grassroots western motif as are the use of Alex Taylor's Bound to Be Back Again and Rod Hart's Arizona Morning and Rodeo Man. The dialogue was intentionally scattered at times. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

 

Extras :

Kino stack the Blu-ray with supplements that include an audio commentary by Sam Peckinpah authors Paul Seydor (Peckinpah: The Western Films), Garner Simmons (Peckinpah: A Portrait in Montage) and David Weddle (If They Move . . . Kill 'Em!: The Life and TImes of Sam Peckinpah), moderated by film historian Nick Redman (writer/director of the documentary A Simple Adventure Story: Sam Peckinpah, Mexico and 'The Wild Bunch'.) I don't recall hearing such a thorough mix of extensive knowledge in one commentary. Great depth and immense value. Also included is Mike Siegel's (writer/director of 2005's Passion & Poetry: The Ballad of Sam Peckinpah) 2017, 56-minute, documentary Passion & Poetry: Rodeo Time with screenwriter Jeb Rosebrook, Katy Haber, Ali MacGraw, Garner Simmons, L.Q. Jones about the making-of Junior Bonner. The author of the film, Jeb Rosebrook, remembers the origins of the project as well as the filming and aftermath. Passion & Poetry: Peckinpah Anecdotes is another 2017 Mike Siegel documentary with snippets from Ernest Borgnine, James Coburn, Kris Kristofferson, Ali MacGraw, Isela Vega, L.Q. Jones, R.G. Armstrong, Bo Hopkins and David Warner telling stories about working with legendary director. It runs for almost 26-minutes. There is some Junior Bonner trivia (cameos, in-jokes etc.), Junior Bonner Remembered - 3-minutes of the 4th of July 2016 rodeo featurette by Keith Woods & Alyson Titkemeyer.  There are also animated galleries of promotional material, behind the scenes photos, a US theatrical trailer, 2 US Radio Spots, a US TV Spot and trailers for Convoy and Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia. The package has reversible Blu-ray art.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Junior Bonner easily vaults into the 100 Greatest Westerns on Blu-ray catalogue. We never tire of the dying breed of cowboy - who, right or wrong, can only live by his own code (Hud) - even when his lifestyle becomes encroached upon by modernization and its unfortunate trappings (Lonely are the Brave). A morose nobility permeates the character and McQueen plays it with likeable grace.  The Kino Lorber
Blu-ray is a massive package loaded with value of an essential film - in or out of the western genre. This will get votes at our year-end poll. Our highest recommendation!

NOTE: At the writing of this review it is 37% OFF at Amazon.

Gary Tooze

October 5th, 2017

 




 

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