Thursday, May 06, 2010


“Thinking about Sam Peckinpah’s Junior Bonner, a film I’ve finally gotten around to seeing, makes me think about how I’m continuing to discover films like this and falling for the smaller pleasures that can be found in them. It can lead to some pretty rich rewards if I look hard enough and with the summer movie season about to start I’m fairly certain I’m not going to find any such rewards in those movies. The films that I’m looking for can be found on their own open road that I sometimes drive down, looking for what I haven’t seen yet, reminding myself how special some of them can really be. Like JR Bonner himself, it’s something that I have to do.”

- Mr. Peel, Mr. Peel’s Sardine Liqueur, ”Genuine as a Sunrise”


The treasures we Los Angelenos have available to see on the big screen each and every week have been on my mind a lot lately. We let so many of them slip past us for various reasons, not the least of which because we tend to get used to being surrounded by such golden opportunities that we begin to take them for granted. At least I do. I know one person can’t see them all, but when I read something as moving as Mr. Peel’s account of Sam Peckinpah’s rarely screened Junior Bonner at the New Beverly a couple weeks ago I wish more than ever that one person could. The film was half of an astutely paired double feature with Jackie Brown (“Guess which one had the bigger crowd,” the writer dares). The movies are linked, as Mr. Peel points out, by having been made by artists whose primary audience expected far more gunplay and violence than the more mature, contemplative movies they got and as a result stayed away in droves from both films upon their original releases. But Mr. Peel digs deeper into Peckinpah’s picture, beautifully sketching the movie’s quiet dance with approaching change and its lovely evocation of “a small piece of life in progress” that could often be found in even the director’s most violent character studies. Whether you’ve seen Junior Bonner or not, please take the time to click over to Mr. Peel’s Sardine Liqueur and avail yourself of this lovely post, which is personal in a way that honors both the movie and the spirit of those who would seek it out 38 years after its release. And then go straight to Netflix and put it on the top of your queue, like I did.

(Thanks, Michael.)



Kevin J. Olson said...

I recently re-visited this film for Jason Bellamy's Steve McQueen blogathon. Writing about the film for the blogathon I realized that I responded to the film much more in reflection than I did while watching the film. It's such a beautiful, elegiac film, and it's disheartening that it never got recognized for the film it was while Peckinpah was alive. He tried to go subtle and gentle for one film and he got (unfairly) panned for it.

I've been reading a lot of Cormac McCarthy lately, too, and it seems that the themes of his Border Trilogy go hand-in-hand with what Peckinpah and McQueen were doing with Junior Bonner.

Enjoy watching this great, criminally underrated film!

Mr. Peel aka Peter Avellino said...

I'm sitting here more than a little speechless after reading this. Many thanks for saying that, it means a lot.

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