Friday, June 3, 2011

STEVE MCQUEEN, one of my all time favorites

Just finished watching Steve's last movie.....THE HUNTER. Sadly, it didn't improve with age. I was wanting it, the first time I saw it and today, to be so much better. Steve was reunited with his Mag7 costar Eli Wallach and his THE GETAWAY costar Ben Johnson. Sadly, they both weren't in that many scenes with him. Steve was dying when he made TH which was released in August of 1980...he passed away 3 months later. Movie could have been better if they didn't dwell so much on his character's bad driving. Still all in all....a bad Steve McQueen movie is better than most other movies.

I actually met the "bounty hunter" that Steve's character and the movie was based on...Ralph "Papa" Thosrson. "Papa" was a big bear of a man but gentle as a lamb....more of a Grizzly Adams look-alike than McQueen....and he can be seen in a bar scene near the end of the film.

I was working for the LA County Probation Department at the time and after one of my probationers failed to report I went looking for him knowing that he lived with "Papa" Thorson (who had all kinds of felons living with and working for him.) I was hesitant to make the home call but went ahead. I walked up on the porch and knocked on the door and the biggest person I had ever seen outside of pro wrestling stood there filling the door way. It was all I could do to introduce myself without shaking and after I told him who I was and why I was there, he said in one of the friendliest voices I had ever heard..."Come on in and we'll solve this problem right now." Then, he took me to his dining room (the one in the movie looked very similar) that had all kinds of characters sitting around its table...and then proceeded to dress down my probationer right in front of everyone there. Needless to say everyone listened and up until he got off probation my guy never gave me a bit of trouble. I think my guy was either a petty thief or got caught kiting checks. (Kind of looked like Tracey Walter who played the scum Rocco Mason in TH, but with darker hair.) That sure was one heckuva day.

Periodically, Thorson would call me up and ask how my/his guy was doing and would often ask me to come by for a bar-b-cue. Each time I politely declined....telling him how much I would like to but my supervisor would never approve it. He never once said or hinted that I could come by and no one would know. he had too much integrity. Shame there wasn't a better movie based on his exploits. "Papa" made "Dog" look like a sissy. He was called "Papa" because he took care of so many of the people he brought back and often put them up until they got a job or had a place to stay.

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