Blu-Ray News #371: The Hunter (1980).

Directed by Buzz Kulik
Starring Steve McQueen, Eli Wallach, Kathryn Harrold, LeVar Burton, Ben Johnson, Richard Venture, Tracey Walter

Imprint out of Australia has announced a deluxe Blu-Ray of Buzz Kulik’s The Hunter (1980), Steve McQueen’s last movie.

McQueen with the real Ralph “Papa” Thorson.

Based on the real-life bounty hunter Ralph “Papa” Thorson, the picture gives McQueen a chance to play around with his image. He’s feeling the aches and pains of age and needs reading glasses. And there’s a running gag about Thorson being a terrible driver. McQueen probably had a lot of fun tolling around in his character’s 1951 Chevrolet. The Thorson character has a love of goofy old things, from gas pumps to jukeboxes to wind-up toys, as did McQueen. They say McQueen had a lot of input on this one, even directing some stuff, and it shows.

Time has been kind to The Hunter. Back in 1980, it seemed rather small compared to what we expected from McQueen, and it had a bit of a TV-movie feel about it (Buzz Kulik was a long-time TV movie director). But now, its more eccentric, character-driven nature is a big part of its appeal — along with the opportunity to watch Steve McQueen for an hour-and-a-half. (I’d take it over 1974’s The Towering Inferno any day!)

Other highlights are a nice scene with Ben Johnson and McQueen in a Massey Ferguson combine chasing a Trans Am through a cornfield! The ensemble cast does a great job of elevating a pretty lazy script, and its episodic structure actually works in its favor.

Imprint has promised a commentary and vintage documentary, along with a collection of trailers and TV spots. But, with all releases like this, the main attraction is the movie itself, restored in high definition. I’m so happy to see this cool little action movie, and its star, get a nice valentine like this.

Someone once said that Steve McQueen could act with the back of his head. Lots of folks call him the “King Of Cool.” For me, any movie he’s in comes highly recommended.

4 Comments

Filed under 1980, Ben Johnson, DVD/Blu-ray News, Imprint Films, Paramount, Steve McQueen

4 responses to “Blu-Ray News #371: The Hunter (1980).

  1. john k

    Imprint are my favorite re-issue label especially as they have treated
    us to hard to find B Movies and other gems like FIVE,FACE BEHIND THE
    MASK and OUTRAGE.,
    Their “Silver Screams Collection” was sensational and now I understand
    OOP. Furthermore Imprint are the only label mining the Paramount
    vaults now Olive and Kino Lorber seem to have given up.
    With Paramount you also get the Republic library which also includes
    a whole heap of Allied Artists,Monogram and RegalScope titles
    as well as several Warner Bros independent titles like Batjac and
    William Cagney Productions.
    There’s plenty of Paramount titles that have not even made it to DVD
    like James Cagney’s SHORT CUT TO HELL and Phil Karlson’s
    HELL’S ISLAND.
    Universal.of course own all the Paramount titles before 1949 but
    there’s still plenty of 50’s and 60’s Paramount titles that deserve the
    high def treatment.
    Interestingly on the same day THE HUNTER is released Imprint are
    also presenting CONQUEST OF SPACE making it’s high def debut,
    they are on a real George Pal kick at the moment. I recently got
    Imprint’s WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE and WAR OF THE WORLDS and
    they are beautiful 4K remasters. All Imprint Blu Ray’s are region free.
    Imprint firstly issue their Blu Ray’s in short runs 1500-2000 with
    slipcase packaging and a choice of alternate artwork.
    When those editions go out of print they then issue “standard editions”
    (no slipcase,no alternate artwork) at a far cheaper price.

    Like

  2. john k

    I’m not sure what Imprint intend to do when their box sets go OOP.
    At any rate I look forward to future releases with great interest and indeed
    anticipation.
    Sadly with all of those Republic titles Paramount own (and indeed Allied
    Artists) Imprint are not too keen on Westerns.
    I would have thought they could do really well with SEVEN MEN FROM NOW (Batjac/Warners now owned by Paramount) after all Indicator did
    real good with their Boetticher Ranown set. SEVEN MEN FROM NOW in
    high def with a whole raft of extras would be a sensational release I would
    have thought.
    Thanks for the “memory jog” recently I was able to pick up WHEN WORLDS
    COLLIDE and WAR OF THE WORLDS standard editions at a decent
    price on Amazon recently.

    Like

  3. I just watched STREETS OF LAREDO 1949,another Paramount release now owned by Universal.I have it on an Bounty Films,but the transfer is terrible.

    Like

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