Walking Tall (1973)

R  |   |  Action, Crime, Drama  |  22 February 1973 (USA)
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Reviews: 41 user | 34 critic

Based on the life of Tennessee sheriff Buford Pusser whom almost single-handily cleaned up his small town of crime and corruption, but at a personal cost of his family life and nearly his own life.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Grandpa (as Noah Beery)
Ed Call ...
Lutie McVeigh
Dominick Mazzie ...
Margie Ann
Brenda Benet ...
Luan Paxton (as Brenda Benét)
Arch Johnson ...
Buel Jaggers
Russell Thorson ...
Ferrin Meaks
Gil Perkins ...
1st Bouncer
Carey Loftin ...
Dice Player
Warner Venetz ...


A surprise hit when it premiered, Walking Tall carried the theme of one man standing up for his sense of right and wrong. Selmer, a small town in southwest Tennessee, served as the authentic background for the bio-pic of the heroic southern Sheriff. Joe Don Baker did an admirable job with the role, and the hugely violent film was a surprise hit. Former Sheriff Pusser himself was set to potray himself in the sequel, but he died in a car crash as he as returning from his contract signing in California. The sequel was filmed using Swedish actor Bo Swensen, and a Final Chapter three quell told of Pussers' demise. While the Walking Tall franchise will never be on any list of Classic Film, the original is a great slice of Americana, Circa '70s. It made Bakers' career and perhaps kicked the 'southsploutation' genre of that decade into gear. Written by rick rothermel

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The measure of a man is how tall he walks. See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

22 February 1973 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Agrios, skliros ekdikitis  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$500,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Two actresses associated with this film went on to commit suicide: Elizabeth Hartman jumped from the 5th floor of a Pittsburgh apartment building in June 1987; Brenda Benet took her life in April 1982. She had been married to Bill Bixby. See more »


When Buford is "busting up a still", there is a crew member crouched down beside the car. See more »


John Witter: [to Buford] Ya know, ideals and realties are very far apart. One day you're gonna see that son. And if ya don't, someone's gonna point it out to you... CLEARLY!
See more »


Followed by Walking Tall (1981) See more »


Walking Tall
Sung by Johnny Mathis
Lyrics by Don Black
Music by Walter Scharf
See more »

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User Reviews

Walking Tall
18 January 2006 | by (michigan) – See all my reviews

Remember seeing this film when it first hit the theatres in 1973...had some hype in the local newspapers and TV ads and was ballyhooed a lot like "The Exorcist" the same year. This film does not disappoint. If you like underdog films and the bad guys getting their a's kicked you will love this movie. Joe Don Baker, a bit actor at the time puts in slam dunk performance as the tough tennessee sheriff Buford Pusser who is a southern dirty harry type cop. Some fans might remember Baker as one of the prisoners in Paul Newman's "Cool Hand Luke". Story centers around Pusser returning home after a long sabbatical as a pro wrestler to find corruption running amok. After getting sliced and diced at a corrupt card table in the local septic tank bar and left for dead on the side of the road Pusser gets angry enough to make a run for sheriff....after winning the surprise election Pusser has to recruit some honest deputies - a rather hard task in that small corrupt town - and proceeds to try and weed out the gangsters and prostitutes running amok in the town. After running the corrupt judge into the basement of the local court house Pusser has to stop the moonshining operation run by the mob also. Along the way he literally castrates a corrupt deputy who is a mob informer. His preferred weapon is not a pistol but a big round wooden "stick" if you will he uses to bang up and batter down all criminals with. Gets to be sort of fun waiting for the next scumbag Pusser will pound down with that big wooden stick......scene of Pusser and his wife getting ambushed by the mob is very graphic and humbling...several people getting very teary eyed in the theatre the first time I saw this film. Scenes of Pusser and his children walking in funeral procession for his wife get to your emotions in a warm and tender way. Plenty of action, and the bad guys get mowed down in the end by Pusser. Almost like a carbon copy of the original Dirty Harry film the same year with Clint Eastwood mowing down the criminals. Poor cinematography and film editing the only downer for this film. Why does the viewer have to see part of a microphone hanging down from a bedroom?? Don't bother with the sequels without Baker as sheriff Pusser. Bo Svenson poor substitute after you have seen Baker as Pusser. Great overall action film - can be quite graphic. Not for young kids to see.

13 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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