When Steve McQueen arrived at one of locations used for the film, he was checked into a really nice hotel with all the amenities available at the time. When he found out that the crew was staying in a cheaper motel nearby, he checked out of the hotel and stayed in the motel with the crew.
This movie is based on the life of real bounty hunter Ralph "Papa" Thorson aka Ralph Thorson. Thorson performed three roles on this movie. He acted as a technical consultant, had written the novel on which it was based, and played a small cameo.
According to numerous biographies and documentaries on Steve McQueen's life, one of the first signs of problems relating to the cancer in his lungs (which would claim his life) occurred when shooting a scene in which McQueen is running down the street and turns a corner. When the director yelled, "Cut!", McQueen didn't come back around the corner. McQueen was found leaning against a wall trying desperately to catch his breath.
Producers of this picture were not satisfied with Michel Legrand's musical score which was too baroque for a thriller, they said. Finally,they came to an agreement with the French composer. Legrand's music was kept on US copies but a new musical score composed by Charles Bernstein was mixed with the soundtrack for copies released in Europe.
Producer Mort Engelberg once said of bounty hunter Ralph "Papa" Thorson: "Thorson is the last of his kind - a man born into an age to which he really does not belong. Among other things, insurance companies will not insure his life, and he will never receive any social security payments . . . I felt that if ever there was material for an explosive film - this was it."
The strange, stubby looking, non-lethal device that Thorson uses once in the film to stop the large angry man in his house is the original Stun Gun made by MB Associates in San Ramon CA. This 36mm device used a large leather or canvas bag filled with lead shot to stop people without major injury or death instead of electricity like today's Stun Guns.The "Bean Bag" rounds also used dye to mark people that were hit by this device. Non-lethal "Bean Bag" rounds are still used today by police and law enforcement agencies but are now built into normal shotgun cartridges and do not require a special device to fire them.
When Papa came to know that Tommy Price was released from custody and end up repairing his TV set, the real life Papa Thorson did house former skip tracers who he did take into custody and did provide a few with stable employment and/or loaned money. Not depicted in the film is Papa's role as an ordained minister (he was a bishop in real life) with the Temple of Inspired Living, and Dottie bringing in cases (in the film she is a schoolteacher instead of a case worker).
This film's opening prologue states: "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 1900s, the "bounty hunter" became extinct. But someone forgot to tell Ralph "Papa" Thorson...".
The 1951 chevy used in The Hunter was featured on an episode of Pawn Stars before being auctioned in 2013. Rick purchased the car for $37000 from a private seller who had purchased the chevy from the estate of Steve McQueen
Three 1979 Pontiac Grand Prixs were used during the chase up the Marina City West Tower parking garage - one of the cars which was used in the stunt where the car dives out of the West Tower on the 17th floor was fitted with an accelerator lock fixed to the trunk; the car was later salvaged from the Chicago River. Six camera crews filmed the car dive including one from a hovering helicopter. In the original script - the fugitive Bernardo was supposed to survive the crash but the producers changed the script where the impact of the Grand Prix was too severe.