CAPSULE: After legendary bounty hunter Ralph "Papa" Thorson is assassinated, his widow Dottie and daughter Brandi go into the business for themselves. They track down Tiny Bellows, a criminal Ralph was looking for at the time of his death. SPOILER ALERT! Key plot details revealed! It's a typical morning at the house of legendary bounty hunter Ralph "Papa" Thorson as he prepares to leave for work. His wife Dottie, however, is not happy that he's chasing down notorious criminal Tiny Bellows, a dangerous quarry. His daughter Brandi asks if she will get some of $80,000 bounty for Tiny to use for an apartment for herself. Ralph flatly refuses. They argue as he leaves the house. He enters his car, turns the ignition key and is blown to bits by a huge explosion. Ralph is eulogized and cremated. Dottie and Brandi learn that although he left her everything in his will, their only tangible asset is the house. Ralph emptied every other account they had, even cashing in a life insurance policy, and left over $100,000 in debt. She checks with bail bondsman Paulie Dortmunder to see if Ralph left any secret "whoring and gambling" money with him, but he was in debt to Paulie also. Brandi has an idealized view of her father and is upset that her mother suggests that her father let them down by blowing all their money. Dottie is concerned that she's never held a job in her life other than housewife and must now support herself and her daughter. They receive a drunken visit from old friend Myrna along with her new boyfriend Dirk. Brandi suggests that they keep up "Dad's legacy" and use his contacts to establish their own bounty hunting business. Dottie won't hear of it. But when their power is turned off, Dottie realizes she must go along with that scheme. Brandi helps her mother learn how to handle a gun and they go looking for business. But neither Paulie or any other bondsman will give them any work until Patti Asbury gives them a case, a prostitute named Robin Ripley who is wanted for assault and theft against some of her johns. They trace her to a Nevada casino and find her out on the floor. A chase ensues, with Brandi charging hard after her, knocking into other patrons while her flustered mother follows. In the car returning to Los Angeles, Robin tries to play on Dottie's sympathies but Brandi will hear none of it. At her hearing Robin's pimp Henry is poised to bail her out. In order to stop him, Dottie tells the judge that she will put up the bail herself if it can be reduced. The judge doesn't want Henry to get this girl in his clutches again, so he takes the unusual step of lowering the bail and giving Dottie custody of Robin, provided she lives with the Thorsons while awaiting trial, a prospect Brandi is not happy with. As the three drive off, Henry smashes the car windows with a bat. The women get a few more small jobs from Patti. Dottie and Brandi return home one day to find Robin in bed with a trick. Robin suggests that the Thorsons need publicity, so she calls a television station which sends a crew to cover Dottie and Brandi as they take in a restaurant worker for non-payment of child support. After the news report airs, featuring a wild chase scene just like at the casino, much more business comes the Thorson's way. Brandi puts an ad in a paper offering a $1000 reward for her father's killer and they are pestered with a stream of crackpots coming to the door. A real estate agent also arrives asking them when they will vacate the house, as Ralph died on the verge of losing it, also. To raise money for the house they realize they must go after a big score: Tiny Bellows. Looking through Ralph's files they get a lead on his whereabouts. Paulie is skeptical of their ability to catch Tiny. A scared young woman named Amber shows up at Thorsons, saying her psycho actor boyfriend Q.D. Reese killed Ralph, but they think she's another crackpot. Amber is seen preparing to run away from her home, but her boyfriend shows up. Q.D. Reese is actually Dirk, the man their friend Myrna has recently hooked up with. The search for Tiny leads the Thorsons to a biker hangout. Dottie's plan is to wait until everyone inside has passed out. In the early morning hours she and Brandi enter the house, rousing a few bikers. They hold Tiny at gunpoint and cuff him. A biker makes a move to stop them and Brandi shoots and wounds him. She's momentarily stunned by what she's done, but Dottie leads her and Tiny out of the house. They are pursued by a group of armed bikers taking shots at them. Dottie whacks Tiny on the head to force him into the car and they speed off, followed by motorcycles and a pick-up truck. Brandi fires a few shotgun blasts at the pursuers, but she runs out of ammo. Dottie tries to think what Ralph would do. She whips the car around in the opposite direction, and, terrified, heads straight for the pack of bikers, wiping out their formation. The Thorson decide to keep Tiny in their custody until Paulie can pay the full $80,000. Back at their home, Robin gets a visit from Henry. He is about to take his belt to her when Dirk shows up looking for Dottie and Brandi. Dirk and Henry get into a fight, wrecking the house. Henry stabs Dirk in the leg, but Dirk brains him with a waffle iron, then carries his body out to the trunk of his car. In the car driving home, Brandi ask Tiny at gunpoint if he killed her father. Tiny calmly tells her no, that he respected Ralph. She doesn't believe him. He begins to flirt with Dottie, who seems to enjoy the attention. They all return home to find the house a wreck, Robin knocked out and Dirk slumped in a chair, delaying their plans to go into hiding with Tiny. While at the house, Tiny has to go to the bathroom. Still handcuffed, he requires the aid of Dottie to do this! The three women and Tiny are staying at a motel when they hear the news of the beating death of Amber, the girl who had been at their house earlier claming her boyfriend Q.D. Reese killed Ralph. Brandi is ready to track down and kill Reese herself, but Dottie cools her out. They can't find any trace of an actor by that name, but Tiny suggests he might be a porno actor and offers to call around for them. When they ask why he would help them, he says he's tired of criminal life and would even welcome a "rest" in jail. Tiny comes up with the names of some films Reese appeared in. The next morning Dottie leaves in the early AM for Myrna's house to watch one of the films. Myrna is seen bringing the wounded Dirk into her home. He asks her to spread a large plastic sheet on the floor. She does, and he promptly shoots and kills her. Dirk loads Myna's body in the trunk of his car along with Henry. Brandi awakens to find Dottie gone. Dottie arrives at Myrna's and finds no one home. She puts the videocassette in the player and sees that Q.D. Reese is actually Dirk. She calls back to the motel, where Robin tells her Brandi has left for their home. Dottie races to her house. Dirk is there when Brandi arrives and overpowers her. Dottie rushes in to find Dirk holding Brandi at gunpoint. Dirk admits to the Thorsons that he killed Ralph. He says he idolized him when he was younger, but that Ralph busted him once for a few outstanding warrants. Suddenly a guy walks in the room looking for Robin. The distraction allows Dottie to club Dirk over the head. Brandi grabs his gun and shoots Dirk, who manages to get out of the house. But the wounded man can't get very far. Dirk still continues to crawl down the street, with Brandi and Dottie walking behind him. Brandi levels the gun at him, but Dottie diverts her shot at the last second. A delivery truck driving down the street runs over Dirk. Paulie pays off the $80,000, but the women turn down more job offers from him. Dottie says goodbye to Tiny, who she allows a kiss. The Thorsons and Robin head off for a shopping spree.moreless
Bank CSR: "The will is very straightforward. Mr. Thorson left everything to you, formally speaking. Brandi Thorson: "Formally?" Bank CSR: "Ummm, well, aside the house, there are no other tangible assets." Dottie Thorson: "What do you mean?" Bank CSR: "There's no money in any of the accounts. The insurance policy has been cashed in; the pension fund, liquidated; your credit cards are maxed out. There's nothin'. In fact, you owe $98,000." Dottie: "Ohhh! Oh, Ralph! Ohh." Brandi: "Wait, wait, I don't understand." Bank CSR: "Only one signature is required to access the account. Apparently Mr. Thorson had financial difficulties. I am terribly sorry." Brandi: "No, you're not. Why pretend to be?" Bank CSR: "It's my job."
Music includes the song "Spirit in the Sky" by Norman Greenbaum. This was the biggest (and only) hit for the Massachusetts native based in California, reaching #3 on the charts in 1970. It's heard during the opening credits and scenes leading up to Ralph's murder.
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