Not a fictional creation, though his biography unravels like one. The Hunter was a 1980 fact-based action/adventure flick starring the late, great Steve McQueen (in his last role) as real-life bounty hunter RALP "PAPA" THORSON.
Thorson, famed as "the Greatest of the Skip-Tracers," had already been featured in a book by Christopher Keane. The exploits recounted in the book formed the basis for the film, and McQueen added his own unique, quirky style to bring Thorson to celluloid life. Thorson himself even appears in one scene -- as a bartender. It's no surprise that Thorson and McQueen bear absolutley no resemblance to one another. The real-life Thorson was a massive bear of a man as opposed to the reel-life Thorson being a trim, nimble man of action, ably portrayed by McQueen in one dramatic--and occasionally humorous--episodic chase scene after another.
The film also stars Katherine Herrold as Thorsons long-suffering wife and Eli Wallach as Thorson's bail bondsman boss. A very young Levar Burton appears as a hapless bail jumper Thorson takes a liking to.
A fun and interesting movie, The Hunter serves as a good primer on the modern Bounty Hunter`s M.O.
See this, and the comedic Midnight Run, featuring Robert Deniro, and you have all you need to know about the professional skip tracer trade, which combines the investigative skill of a P.I. and the mercenary angle of the average lawyer, with gun-pointing zeal of the NRA mixed in for good measure.
And if you decide you've developed a taste for all things Thorson, check out The Huntress, a USA Network TV show relating the fictionalized events of Thorson's widow and daughter, who carried on the faimly business.
Respectfully submitted by Mike Harris.
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