One fascinating but overlooked role in Hollywood is the bail bondsman. While many in this field do have sometimes exciting lives, the movies have taken it to an entirely different level and often blurs reality with fantasy.
Who can forget the hopeless romantic bondsman, Max Cherry, played by Robert Forster in an academy award nominated role for the movie Jackie Brown. In the movie, Cherry often arranges bail for a violent gunrunner named Ordell Robbie, played by Samuel L. Jackson. He seems to work in a gray area when it comes to the law. He helps the worst of the worst, knowing that their release will only contribute to more crime. Yet he does it anyway. When Ordell asks Cherry to bail Brown out of jail for the purpose of killing her, Cherry complies. In the process, Brown asks Cherry to explain how does bail work, and in their conversation he falls in love with Brown and realizes he no longer wants to do this kind of work. He wants a normal life. Bail bondsmen around the country could relate to Cherry as the bondsman life he led provided easy money and a guilty conscious.
Another famous movie involving bail bondsmen and bounty hunters is Midnight Run. Starring Robert DeNiro as bounty hunter Jack Walsh, Midnight Run is the story of a bail bondsman, Eddie Moscone, played beautifully by Joe Pantoliano, who hires Walsh to track down Jonathan “The Duke” Mardukas, played by Charles Grodin. Moscone had posted a $450,000 bond for Mardukas, but when Mardukas skips bail, Moscone has no choice but to bring in professional bounty hunter Walsh to track down the defendant. In the movie, bounty hunters referred to his kind of job as a Midnight Run, thus the name of the movie. Moscone offers Walsh $100,000 to bring Mardukas in, and the movie follows Walsh in his attempt to bring the defendant to justice.
One of the great movies in this genre starred the great Steve McQueen. The Hunter is the real life story of Ralph “Papa” Thorson, played by McQueen. Thorson apprehended over 5,000 bail jumpers in his career, and The Hunter is a great look into his story. In one of his last movies, McQueen delivers an incredible performance and as Thorson, crosses the entire country tracking down some of the most notorious criminals of his time. In one city, in his attempt to recover the bail bonds Las Vegas there is a great apprehension scene that the theater audiences found riveting. We will leave that for you to see for yourself when you rent it.
Today, we find TV reality shows like Dog the Bounty Hunter and others that give us a glimmer into the life of these brave and fearless warriors. But they just do not live up to the high expectations we have come to have from great performances from actors like DiNero, McQueen, and even the middle aged Robert Forster in his comeback role of a lifetime. These movies live on and provide a unique view across different generations and moments in time that only Hollywood can provide.