The Hunter (1980)

PG | 97 mins | Drama | 1 August 1980

Director:

Buzz Kulik

Producer:

Mort Engelberg

Cinematographer:

Fred Koenekamp

Editor:

Robert Wolfe

Production Designer:

Ron Hobbs
Full page view
HISTORY

The following title appears in opening credits: “In an 1872 decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled that bail bondsmen may employ private citizens to act on their behalf. The Court ruled that these private citizens ‘may pursue and apprehend a bail violator in another State or Country; and if necessary, may break and enter his house for that purpose.’ With the arrival of civilization and the closing of the American frontier in the early 1900’s, the ‘bounty hunter’ became extinct. But someone forgot to tell Ralph ‘Papa’ Thorson…”
       The following acknowledgments appear in end credits: “Our special thanks for the assistance of the following: Governor James R. Thompson, State of Illinois; Mayor Jane Byrne, City of Chicago; Lucy Salenger, Managing Director, Illinois Dept. of Commerce & Community Affairs; The Chicago Transit Authority; Officer Marvin Mandel, Chicago Police Department and Lt. Dominick Frigo, Chicago Police Department; Sgt. Bill Marks; Kankakee Police Department; Dr. Maury Lazarus; Margaret Booth.”
       Stunt person, Jophery Brown, was incorrectly credited on screen as “Jopherey Brown.”
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, producer Mort Engelberg contacted bounty hunter, Ralph “Papa” Thorson in 1976, after hearing about Thorson's three-decades of exploits, apprehending more than 5,000 fugitives that had fled the country rather than face trial. Engelberg bought film rights to Thorson’s story before a book was written. In addition, Engelberg wanted actor Steve McQueen to star in the film, and never considered anyone else for the role.
       A news item in the 31 Jul 1975 DV announced that the film would be directed by Michael Winner from a screenplay written by John Zodrow, based on a story by Gary Mayer. Winner, ... More Less

The following title appears in opening credits: “In an 1872 decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled that bail bondsmen may employ private citizens to act on their behalf. The Court ruled that these private citizens ‘may pursue and apprehend a bail violator in another State or Country; and if necessary, may break and enter his house for that purpose.’ With the arrival of civilization and the closing of the American frontier in the early 1900’s, the ‘bounty hunter’ became extinct. But someone forgot to tell Ralph ‘Papa’ Thorson…”
       The following acknowledgments appear in end credits: “Our special thanks for the assistance of the following: Governor James R. Thompson, State of Illinois; Mayor Jane Byrne, City of Chicago; Lucy Salenger, Managing Director, Illinois Dept. of Commerce & Community Affairs; The Chicago Transit Authority; Officer Marvin Mandel, Chicago Police Department and Lt. Dominick Frigo, Chicago Police Department; Sgt. Bill Marks; Kankakee Police Department; Dr. Maury Lazarus; Margaret Booth.”
       Stunt person, Jophery Brown, was incorrectly credited on screen as “Jopherey Brown.”
       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, producer Mort Engelberg contacted bounty hunter, Ralph “Papa” Thorson in 1976, after hearing about Thorson's three-decades of exploits, apprehending more than 5,000 fugitives that had fled the country rather than face trial. Engelberg bought film rights to Thorson’s story before a book was written. In addition, Engelberg wanted actor Steve McQueen to star in the film, and never considered anyone else for the role.
       A news item in the 31 Jul 1975 DV announced that the film would be directed by Michael Winner from a screenplay written by John Zodrow, based on a story by Gary Mayer. Winner, Zodrow nor Mayer are credited on-screen. According to a brief in the 15 Dec 1978 DV writers William Link and Richard Levinson were commissioned to do a screenplay, but when Peter Hyams was hired to replace Winner, he was also contracted to write a script, and Levinson and Link left the project. Hyams was eventually replaced by director Buzz Kulik, but did receive onscreen credit for screenwriting. An article in the 12 May 1979 LAT reported that, at one point, an attempt was made by producers to hire McQueen to direct, but the Directors Guild of America (DGA) rejected the request. DGA bylaws state that someone who was hired early on in the same production cannot replace a director who was a later hire and then terminated.
       A 16 Aug 1979 HR article reported that actress Sally Field turned down a role in the film.
       The 31 Jul 1975 DV first announced that principal photography would begin Dec 1975. A 17 Dec 1976 HR brief reported that the project, known by its working title Hunter, would begin filming in spring 1977 through a development and distribution deal with Twentieth Century-Fox Corp. A 26 Jun 1979 DV brief stated that the film would now be released through Paramount Pictures, and begin principal photography on 10 Sep 1979 in Chicago, IL. Four weeks of filming was scheduled for Chicago, Kankakee, and Joliet, IL, before interiors were filmed at Paramount Pictures studios in Hollywood, CA, in mid-Oct, according to articles in the 3 Aug 1979 HR and 3 Oct 1979 Var. The production spent six weeks at Paramount and various California locations, according to a brief in the 16 Oct 1979 DV.
       A 5 Oct 1979 HR article reported that a chase, involving action on an elevated train, took ten days to film. The Chicago Transit Authority rented the company a seven-car train, and filming was confined between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. The sequence involved McQueen on the train top at 40 m.p.h. For the film, the star performed most of his own stunts.
       According to a 25 Mar 2013 Hemmings Daily blog post and the Auctions America website, the 1951 Chevrolet Styleline Deluxe convertible that McQueen drove in the picture, and purchased to add to his collection after the movie was completed in Dec 1979, was sold for $88,000 on 23 Mar 2013 at Auctions America in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Price guides indicate that extensively restored models are usually valued between $50,000 and $60,000. The vehicle remained in McQeen’s estate for four years after his death in Nov 1980 until it was sold at an auction held 24-25 Nov 1984 at the Imperial Palace Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV. Rick Harrison, personality from the popular reality television show Pawn Stars, was the current owner auctioning the vintage car that was restored ten years earlier with an aftermarket stereo system circa 1980s or 1990s, and a 12-volt electrical system. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
31 Jul 1975.
---
Daily Variety
15 Dec 1978.
---
Daily Variety
26 Jun 1979.
---
Daily Variety
16 Aug 1979.
---
Daily Variety
16 Oct 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Dec 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Aug 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 Oct 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jul 1980
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
12 May 1979
---
Los Angeles Times
1 Aug 1980
p. 8.
New York Times
1 Aug 1980
p. 12.
Variety
3 Oct 1979.
---
Variety
30 Jul 1980
p. 22.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Co-Starring:
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Paramount Pictures Presents
A Raystar/Mort Engelberg Production
A Buzz Kulik Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
Addl 2d asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Aerial cam
Stillman
Gaffer
Key grip
2d grip
Dolly grip
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Apprentice ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
Set des
Prop master
Asst prop master
Leadman
Const coord
COSTUMES
Men's costumer
Set costumer
Women's costumer
MUSIC
Mus ed
Mus for Chicago chase seq
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom man
Cableman
Supv sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Titles and opticals
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Tech adv
Casting
Loc mgr
Craft service
Vocal eff advisor
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Car carrier
Auditor
First aid
Unit pub
Helicopter pilot
Chicago Transit Authority tech adv
Chicago Transit Authority tech adv
Asst to Mr. Kulik
Asst to Mr. Engelberg
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
Stunt person
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the book The Hunter by Christopher Keane (New York, 1976).
SONGS
"Sempra Libera" from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata, performed by Pamela Hicks, "Una Voce Poco Fa," from Gioachino Rossini's The Barber of Seville, performed by Pamela Hicks, "Dalla Sua Pace," from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Don Giovanni, performed by Robin Reed.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Bounty Hunter
Hunter
Release Date:
1 August 1980
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 1 August 1980
Production Date:
10 September--late November 1979 in Chicago, IL. and Southern California
Copyright Claimant:
Ritz Associates
Copyright Date:
18 September 1980
Copyright Number:
PA87530
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® Camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
97
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
25998
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

When bounty hunter Ralph “Papa” Thorson parks his 1951 Chevrolet convertible in a rundown neighborhood, he walks to a nearby bar, and asks to speak to Tommy Price. When the barmaid warns Tommy, he slips out the back door of a garage. However, Papa waits for him and holds a gun to Tommy's head. Papa says he will shoot Tommy if he runs away. While driving off in Papa’s car, Papa explains that he has been hired to bring Tommy into custody in Los Angeles, California. Papa also stops at a Houston, Texas, police station to apprehend another bail jumper named Billie Joe Face. The only problem is Sheriff Strong, who refuses to help, draws a gun and orders Papa to leave town. When Papa argues, the sheriff says Billie Joe is his nephew. At a nearby park, Papa handcuffs Tommy to the steering wheel of his parked car, arms himself with a stun gun, and searches for Billie Joe. He enters a lakeside cabin, where Billie Joe is making love to his girl friend in a bedroom. Papa sprays a chemical in the air, which lures the fugitive into the open. The men fight, and Papa renders Billie Joe unconscious with his stun gun. Soon, Papa returns to Los Angeles, where Tommy and Billie Joe are processed. He tells Tommy to let the judge know that Papa has a job waiting for him. At home, a group of men play poker in Papa’s living room. He rejects their invitation to join the game, and instead, slips into the bedroom, where his pregnant girl friend, Dotty, is asleep. He wakes her with a kiss, and Dotty reminds ... +


When bounty hunter Ralph “Papa” Thorson parks his 1951 Chevrolet convertible in a rundown neighborhood, he walks to a nearby bar, and asks to speak to Tommy Price. When the barmaid warns Tommy, he slips out the back door of a garage. However, Papa waits for him and holds a gun to Tommy's head. Papa says he will shoot Tommy if he runs away. While driving off in Papa’s car, Papa explains that he has been hired to bring Tommy into custody in Los Angeles, California. Papa also stops at a Houston, Texas, police station to apprehend another bail jumper named Billie Joe Face. The only problem is Sheriff Strong, who refuses to help, draws a gun and orders Papa to leave town. When Papa argues, the sheriff says Billie Joe is his nephew. At a nearby park, Papa handcuffs Tommy to the steering wheel of his parked car, arms himself with a stun gun, and searches for Billie Joe. He enters a lakeside cabin, where Billie Joe is making love to his girl friend in a bedroom. Papa sprays a chemical in the air, which lures the fugitive into the open. The men fight, and Papa renders Billie Joe unconscious with his stun gun. Soon, Papa returns to Los Angeles, where Tommy and Billie Joe are processed. He tells Tommy to let the judge know that Papa has a job waiting for him. At home, a group of men play poker in Papa’s living room. He rejects their invitation to join the game, and instead, slips into the bedroom, where his pregnant girl friend, Dotty, is asleep. He wakes her with a kiss, and Dotty reminds him they have a La Maze childbirth class to attend, but he tells her he would rather not go. When Dotty suggests that it may be easier if she moves in with her sister, Papa insists he needs her at home. Later, Papa eats lunch with Ritchie Blumenthal, a bail bondsman. Papa tells Ritchie that he wants to be paid for finding Tommy and Billie Joe. Ritchie avoids the subject by asking questions about the baby’s due date. Ritchie drops fugitive Anthony “Tony” Bernardo’s case file in Papa’s lap, and assures that it will be a lucrative assignment; seeing that Tony is a dangerous criminal, the bounty hunter refuses. He is interrupted by a telephone call from a stranger named Rocco Mason, threatening to kill him. Without mentioning the nature of the call, Papa resumes negotiations to capture the Branch brothers instead. Back at Papa’s house, a poker buddy says that Mason is a methamphetamine user, who was recently released from San Quentin State Prison. Tommy keeps busy fixing Papa’s appliances, while Papa gives Dotty a loaded pistol to protect herself while he is away. Papa then accompanies her to a La Maze class. Sometime later, Dotty grades papers in her empty classroom when she hears Mason’s voice, and locks herself in the room. Mason presses his war-paint-streaked face up against the glass, and threatens to kill Papa, then disappears. After his flight, Papa rents a black Pontiac Trans Am and drives to a seemingly abandoned farmhouse to find the Branch brothers. He barely avoids being hit by a lit stick of dynamite when the brothers try to run over him with his Trans Am. Papa jumps behind the wheel of a threshing machine and chases them through a cornfield. The brothers throw sticks of dynamite out the window, but eventually drive too close to the dynamite, causing the car to explode. Papa takes the Branch brothers into custody, and returns the Trans Am to the car rental in pieces. Upon returning to Los Angeles, Papa hugs Dotty while Mason watches from across the street. Later, Papa has a rough night at the home of his friend, Capt. Pete Spota, who confesses to a grave error in judgment in which he sold impounded drugs. Spota cannot stomach going to prison, and plans to murder a known neighborhood drug dealer to redeem himself before committing suicide. Back at home, Papa fights with Dotty about bringing a child into a trouble-ridden world, but she reminds him that abortion was never an option. At a bar, Papa learns of Spota’s death from a bartender. When Papa returns to the house to apologize, Dotty says their relationship is over and leaves. Later, Ritchie visits Papa at home and offers $8,000 to find Tony Bernardo in Chicago, Illinois, saying the money will smooth things over with Dotty. Once Papa finds Tony in Chicago the chase stretches over rooftops, across city streets, and on an elevated train. Tony grabs a child as a human shield and tries to shoot Papa off the roof of the train. When the train enters a tunnel, Tony pulls the emergency brake, and the men continue the chase on foot through the tunnel. When Tony climbs to street level, he steals a car from a high-rise parking tower. Papa follows in a stolen tow truck. When Tony comes to a dead end, he angles the car around but smashes into the tow truck. As Tony throws the vehicle into reverse, it plunges off the tower into the Chicago River below. Papa watches as Tony’s car sinks like a stone. Back at home, Papa discovers Tommy has been shot, and Mason has kidnapped Dotty. Mason is waiting when Papa arrives at Dotty’s classroom. As Mason orders Papa to remove his weapons, a school security guard interrupts, and Mason shoots the guard. Papa escapes and hides in a science laboratory, filling the room with gas. As Mason enters the laboratory, a skeleton on wheels startles him, and the bullets from his gun mix with the gas, enveloping him in an explosion. Meanwhile, Papa rescues Dotty, who goes into labor. The couple races to the hospital in Papa’s vintage Chevrolet, where a doctor helps Dotty deliver her baby in the front seat of the car. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.