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Walking Tall (1973)

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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 ...
Dominick Mazzie ...
Margie Ann
Brenda Benet ...
Luan Paxton (as Brenda Benét)
Ferrin Meaks
1st Bouncer
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 triquel 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:

Der Große aus dem Dunkeln  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$500,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$23,000,000, 31 December 1973
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


According to a biography of Buford Pusser written by Dwana Pusser (his daughter), Pusser never carried a wooden post, though he was known to pick one up whenever it was needed. See more »


When Pusser is in the morgue you can clearly see a boom coming in from off screen. Then in the next scene outside you again can clearly see a microphone poking up from below. See more »


Buford: Hey Arno, howzit hangin?
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Referenced in Walking Small (1992) See more »


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

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User Reviews

What's the fuss about?
28 September 2003 | by See all my reviews

Wow, the previous reviewer really had issues with this film! Judging from his/her use of overly-descriptive adjectives, I'd say he/she was looking down their nose, even before they entered the theatre.

"It coincided with the beginning of a sordid bottom period in the social and intellectual history of the United States from which the nation has yet to recover."

Whoa! Where'd that come from !? For starters, that wasn't the beginning of any bottom period for this country. I'm not even sure what context he/she is referring to. If it's violence in society, then you need to roll the clock back 10, 20 or more years to find the bottom. Sounds like someone lived in a glass house during the McCarthy-era, JFK's assassination, Vietnam, MLK's assassination - and that's just going back 10-20 years! Dip back further into the early part of the century, when the country was involved in labor fights (of which I highly recommend watching "Matewan One", a movie about unionizing coal miners of West Virginia back in the 20's or 30's).

Sorry to digress. Here's my take on Walking Tall:

I watched this the other night and was glued to it! Not for the display of violence, but for the fact that this movie is now nearly 30 years old and it's like a time capsule of sorts. Yes, it was a story based on violence, but the real story is how morally bankrupt one town had become, while still functioning as a little town somewhere in America.

Joe Don Baker played an excellent role in being a not-so-nice guy bent on cleaning up the scum of his childhood town. He had been away too long, and when he returned, it was too much for him to handle.

I took to watching this movie lightly. A lot of viewers commented on the social aspects of this, but I took-in all of the surrounding things like the props and scenery. For instance, look how huge those Dodge sedans were! Boats with wheels! The bad hair, bad clothes, especially one scene where his wife is wearing this blouse that has about 4 different contrasting patterns on it. Truly Seventies Americana.

As mentioned in another post, the boom operator must have been someone's kid helping out on the set, as the mic is shown in many of the scenes. Being an independent company, they must have said the heck with it in the editing room. Not enough money for a re-shoot.

I take this movie with a grain of salt. I was entertained by the time period of it and the acting. This movie belongs in the yet-to-be implemented IMDB genre category of "The Seventies". Hint hint IMDB.

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