Part 2, Walking Tall (1975)
This second film that chronicles the life of southern Sheriff Buford Pusser picks up where the first one left off. The only difference is that when the bandages are removed that covered his facial injuries at the end of the first film we find he’s no longer played by Joe Don Baker. Bo Svenson has stepped up to the plate with the giant stick that the character dishes out his own brand of justice with.
While the first film seemed to have Buford clear out all his enemies he missed a few because it isn’t long before before Luke Askew and John Chandler come gunning for him on orders from another local with piles of money made on the moonshine trade.
Svenson is up to the task as the legendary lawman. He towers over his costars that includes the returning Noah Beery Jr. and Bruce Glover as his faithful deputy.
Svenson gets to tangle with the likes of Frank McRae and one of my favorite character actors, Richard Jaeckel. It’s Jaeckel who has one of the films better scenes involving his prized sports coupe and Svenson’s big stick. It seems Jaeckel just may be smuggling some moonshine liquor thus leading to a rather thorough search by the rugged lawman with devastating effects on Jaeckel’s car.
This second film in the series is nowhere near as violent as the first film with Baker in the lead role. There’s less gun play this time out and the big stick isn’t quite as deadly. That’s not to say Askew and Chandler won’t face Svenson’s brand of justice. While the first film (see review here) does not feel like a hugely budgeted film, this one feels even less so. It has that seventies drive in feel.
Prolific television director Earl Bellamy helmed the sequel after taking the reigns from Phil Karlson’s first film.
Originally the real Buford Pusser was going to play himself for this second film based on his life story and fighting local crime. Due to his death in a somewhat suspicious car crash shortly before filming started, Svenson was cast.
Along with villain Jaeckel, Luke Askew was another well known face throughout the seventies as both good and bad guys in features and television. He would turn up in Will Paxton’s solid thriller Frailty years later. A film I love to recommend. Askew died in 2012.
Svenson is still active and as of late has appeared in some of Quentin Tarantino’s work including Kill Bill and Inglorious Basterds. He would also return for the third film in the Walking Tall saga as well as the short lived television series in 1981.