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Walking Tall
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Reviews & Ratings for
Walking Tall More at IMDbPro »

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Very interesting film, couldn't step away

Author: Stefan from Toronto, Canada
21 February 2006

I caught this film in 2006 on the action channel while surfing for something quick to watch for 30 min. I was still there at the end and I had no idea this was supposed to be based on a true story until the credits rolled. It's especially interesting to read some of the reviews here and learn of the fate of the actors and actresses and Mr. Bufford himself outside of the film.

Wow, 33 years ago. I was about 6 when this was made and I'm sure my parents drove a dodge like that ... I can still feel the heat from the vinyl seats burning my legs in the middle of summer.

As for the mystery boom-mike that several folks mention, maybe I was too into the story and in awe of life in the southern US, but I never saw it once! Definitely worth a viewing. As one reviewer said, it may be a good one to watch when you've given up on finding any body left 'walking tall' around you. I saw the remake with 'the rock' before this version. Not even close. The rock's version is your typical Hollywood action flick. This one felt pretty real for '73 and it does get your blood boiling. Granted, some scenes seem pretty far fetched, but the key focus on corruption is there through-out. Maybe we need someone to make an up to date film featuring behind the scenes at Enron.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Take your best shot cause it'll be your last.

Author: bluesman-20 from Canada
18 January 2014

Walking Tall. Is the story of Sheriff Buford Pusser. Pusser was the sheriff of Mcnairy county Tenn. during the late 50's to the early 70's . Pusser led a colourful life from being a wrestler Buford the bull or Buford the wild bull. to a stint in the marines in which he was given a medical discharge for asthma. Buford came home to Adamsville Tenn. As a young man he visited a crooked casino across the state line and caught them cheating and stealing his money. They beat him and carved him up and left him for dead. Buford lost a friend in that attack and he returned to the casino and took his money back by force. He was arrested and during his trial he stood up for himself and was acquitted. Buford ran for the job as Adamsville's police chief and started a war to clean up the state line . Buford's term as police chief expired after four terms and he ran for the more powerful position of county sheriff. he made powerful enemies and was shot and knifed countless times and left for dead but he came back stronger then ever.

until Aug 12th 1964. Buford Pusser was responding to a call out on new hope road. His wife PAuline terrified for her husband went along. The day was beautiful and no sign of trouble until the cars came and ambushed Buford Pusser and his wife. Pauline Pusser died and Buford was severely wounded. His jaw almost shot off. Buford was in the hospital for almost a year recovering. But when he did he continued his relentless war. In 1967 Mort Briskin caught a news story on Pusser and was captivated and believed this would make a great movie. He contacted Buford and he agreed to make the movie as a consultant. Buford Pusser himself would say WAlking Tall was 50 percent true 50 percent Hollywood. And you can see what's true and what isn't. But they got the important details right. And they got the legend right. When Walking Tall became an incredible hit Buford Pusser received death threats. He was worried he would die before they finished telling his story. He screen tested for the next chapter simply called Buford and got the job to play himself but died before it was made. But Joe Don Baker does a great job here as Buford and keeps his memory alive. The film isn't perfect it's not a documentary of a incredible man. But it's a fitting cornerstone into the legend that has become Buford Pusser. I've seen this film hundreds of times and each time it's affected me deeply. Not bad for a film made in 1973.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

And which movie did YOU see...?

Author: A_Different_Drummer from North America
21 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The movie was pretty good FOR THE TIME (more below). The IMDb reviews however are in some cases more entertaining than the movie. Some people see this as dated or some sort of "time capsule." This pretty much ignores the recent remake but, more importantly, also ignores the fact that the theme -- that of a gradual and steady corruption of a once-healthy town (village/city/country) does indeed happen, and happens more often than people acknowledge. Some people look at the star and go WHAA? -- who is this guy? OK, Joe Don Baker did not have the most spectacular career in Hollywood but he was a reliable asset for these kinds of films. And some people look at this and see merely a Charles Bronson knockoff, ie going to the theatre to vicariously taste the violence that was otherwise lacking in the 70s. Some truth to this, in its day this was very much a "guys" film, definitely not a "date" film, and it was indeed in the category of the Bronson flicks or the Billy Jack flicks. Remember that martial arts movies were barely known in N.A., and MMA did not exist. So if you wanted to see someone get thumped upside the head, this film would be on your short list. But all the above ignores the fact that this was a biography and THESE WERE NOT that common then, so, in that context, the context of a true story, the film becomes that much more interesting ... and that much more entertaining.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

I thought it was a great movie(s)....

Author: tmh_hornsby from United States
22 October 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I recently purchased the box set of the "Walking Tall" trilogy as I had forgotten about this movie until the remake starring "The Rock" came out in 2004. I sat down and watched them all back to back. I was rather disappointed that Joe Don Baker didn't play the part of Buford Pusser in all three. I'm not taking anything from Bo Svenson but to me he just didn't look the part. If they were not going to use JDB in all of them, then they should have gotten BS to play the lead in the first. I felt that for the time line, the movie, albeit low budgeted, was pretty decent. I am from the south and my father was in law enforcement for 30 years and I can relate to the stories of "running shine" and the like. There are so many clips that were shown that I, on a personal level, could relate to. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole trilogy and yes, I did shed a few tears when Pauline died and a whole lot when Buford died. I give the whole thing a "thumbs-up" and hope that one day there can be a true remake of the whole trilogy with a wonderful supporting cast that can be in all three movies!

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Bigger Than Life

Author: Charles Eagle ( from Dayton, Ohio
16 October 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

SPOILER ALERT! One terrific action flick, one of the top 4 of the early 70s, along with "Billy Jack" "Dirty Harry" and "Death Wish." The action scenes are among the best and most explicitly violent ever filmed, especially the bar fights. The ambush, the moments following it with horrified cops and ambulance people arriving at the bloody scene, and the events at the hospital afterwards are emotionally harrowing and almost operatic. Look for highly underrated character actor Ken Tobey in one of his most memorable performances as a vicious redneck. Don't bother with the butchered version likely to be caught on late-night television---this one needs to be seen in all its R-rated politically-incorrect glory. I have an excellent video transfer distributed by Rhino Video.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Cars and bars like in Coen brother's movies

Author: manuel-pestalozzi from Zurich, Switzerland
12 June 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a very carefully crafted, highly stylized movie by legendary director Phil Karlson. The story about law and order is of the Western type and reportedly based on the life and times of a real Tennessee sheriff. The plot is somewhat coarse and certainly not very close to real facts, but the director and the actors deal well with it and turned out a powerful movie that has qualities of a fairy tale (for adults), makes a twisted statement and never bores. It lingers on in my memory.


Some scenes reminded me strongly of the two "road movies" made by the Coen brothers: Blood Simple and Fargo. The brothers really must have liked Walking Tall! Like in their movies roadside entertainment places and the road itself signify moral depravity and danger. There are hauntingly beautiful night shots of the badly wounded sheriff lying in the gutter, trying to catch the attention of passing cars and someone surprisingly shooting out of a stopped car very much like in Fargo. Even the cheesy bar equipment of Blood Simple and Fargo seems to have been borrowed from this film.

I guess Karlson was a movie man of the "old school". He amply uses signs and symbols. They seem to underline the political views of the moviemakers. For example, the sheriff is constantly carrying a big stick as his trademark (Teddy Roosevelt is appropriately quoted). There is a curious scene in the county judge's private bathroom in the courthouse (several toilet bowls arranged in conference room fashion without partitions and additional living room furniture). The sheriff intrudes to make his determination clear to the judge who is deeply shocked by this invasion of his privacy and subdued thereafter. At the end the lower part of the sheriff‘s head is cast in plaster. He is only eyes and ears. There is no more need for talking. The eerie appearance seems to complement the face masks in Karlson's Kansas City Confidential: There the gangsters carry masks that cover the top half of their faces. It is equally intimidating.

Karlson knew exactly how to stir up emotions. The scene of the assassination in which the sheriff‘s wife dies is arranged and carefully balanced like a painting. The following funeral procession has a humble dignity that is moving and fits the situation perfectly. The bonfire in front of the badmen's bar, after having been looted by an anonymous mob with police and sheriff quietly looking on, gives a last and lasting impression of the ambivalence of the sheriff's understanding of law and order.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

WALKING TALL (Phil Karlson, 1973) **1/2

Author: MARIO GAUCI ( from Naxxar, Malta
4 June 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This extremely violent but crowd-pleasing police drama inspired by real events has become something of a Grindhouse classic; it was certainly successful and popular enough to produce two sequels, a TV series and a couple of remakes over the years! Incidentally, the screenwriter/director/star team behind it would themselves collaborate once again on the similarly-themed FRAMED (1975).

That’s not to say, however, that the original WALKING TALL is beyond criticism: the narrative does take its repetitive turns, as Buford’s life is thrice attempted upon (requiring him to be hospitalized and undergoing surgery), while his wife’s killing can be seen coming from miles off! Still, Joe Don Baker is perfectly cast in the role of the harassed but unbending brawny lawman – and it deservedly cemented his reputation for a while. Director Karlson (of whose work, I’ve just watched a couple of enjoyable Matt Helm spy spoofs with Dean Martin) keeps a steady enough hand throughout while juggling the various elements: not just the folksiness and bigotry marking the milieu in which the narrative is set, but the kind of no-holds-barred thrills the 1970s seemed to mandate as a means of mass entertainment. In fact, vigilantism spelled big box-office at the time with the likes of DIRTY HARRY (1971), STRAW DOGS (1971), DEATH WISH (1974), etc. A decent cast of Hollywood veterans has been rounded up in support of the star: these include Noah Beery Jr. (as the hero’s father), Gene Evans (as a crooked sheriff), and Kenneth Tobey (as another so-called pillar of the community – read redneck – involved in the myriad illicit activities).

By the way, the version I watched (via the Rhino DVD) was open-matte as opposed to the more professional-looking Widescreen original – in fact, in a number of shots, the boom-mike is plainly visible above the actors’ heads!

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5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Forget the Rock remake

Author: movieman_kev from United States
1 April 2004

The fact that the remake of this classic is opening in a few days persuaded me to review the original Joe Don Baker ass-kicker of a movie. Baker will always be in my mind as Buford Pusser, a man who chooses to walk tall no matter what the consequences that may befall. After retiring from wrestling, he returns home with his wife, Elizabeth Hartman (Edwina in Clint Eastwood's strangest film "the Beguiled), and children, Dawn Lyn and Leif Garret (heh) in tow, only to find corruption. Luckily Buford carries a BIG stick and knows how to swing it. At a tad over two hours, this film is almost 2 times the film that the remake is time-wise, but a million times better than it entertainment and story-wise. A tad dated, but it still holds up pretty well

My Grade: A

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Joe Don Baker in Walking Tall

Author: Mark Honhorst from United States
25 September 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Joe Don Baker is my favorite actor(no, I'm really serious), and this is hands down his greatest film,at least out of all the films I've seen him in. The film is basically about a war between Buford Pusser( who was a real person, by the way) and the scum of a small town. Someone will kill a friend or family member of Pusser, and Pusser will kill one or two of the bad guys at a time. It's a shame Joe Don couldn't be in the sequels, remake, or TV show. I've heard pretty bad things about all of those, so I think I'll stay away from them. The ending is somewhat anti-climactic, but somehow effective. Definitely check this film out if you like Joe Don Baker and/ or action flicks.

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Just to make sure everyone knows the facts.

Author: junky2004 from Tennessee
1 February 2006

This movie isn't just about history, it is based on the true life events of Sheriff Buford Pusser in McNairy County, Tennessee. You must see part 2 and 3 also to get the whole story. It shows how the Sheriff cleaned out the moonshine, drugs, and prostitution that was going on back in the 1970's. Also you can search the web and you will see other Sheriffs across the USA have paid tribute to the former Sheriff Pusser.

Sheriff Pussers daughter has setup a museum for anyone who would like to see the actual home, cars, and property of the former sheriff.

All 3 movies are really great. Especially part 3, it shows what happened to make Buford want to have the 1st movie made.

I hope this was helpful for everyone who didn't understand.

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