Final Chapter : Walking Tall (1977)
Bo Svenson is once again cast as Buford Pusser in the third film of the seventies trilogy that sees a Tennessee lawman fight for justice while at the same time seek revenge on those that murdered his wife. Joe Don Baker played the role in the first film(see here) with Bo taking over in the second.
This third outing from American International is no where near as violent and or as bloody as the first two films. Once again Svenson as Pusser is battling the moonshine trade and a gambling/whore house just out of his jurisdiction. Initially he’s apt to let things go until an old love who finds herself in a prostitution ring is tortured and ultimately murdered due to her association with him. This gives the man with the big stick the motivation to kick the hell out of a few rednecks and burn the club to the ground.
This isn’t sitting well with money man John Witter who returns from the second film as a slimy business man fronting the cash for the booze and women trade. He still wants Svenson out of the way for good but his “boss” Morgan Woodward says it’s time to cut their losses and pull up stakes. Let the lawman be. Fat chance of that.
Parallel to the policing is the fact that Svenson is up for re-election. When things don’t go in his favor it’s a case of life imitating art. Keeping the film based in fact, a movie mogul shows up to make our lawman an offer to film his life story. I half expected Joe Don Baker to turn up but the film in a film kept his portayer off camera.
The film shows us that the real life Pusser lived long enough to see his violent and turbulent times come to life on screen and mentions that he was scheduled to portray himself in the first sequel. His death in a car accident ended that opportunity hence the signing of Svenson to appear in the sequel after Baker stepped down.
A new director was assigned to the third film as well. Jack Starrett. Jack had a proven track record with the drive in crowd having already given us the Jim Brown actioner Slaughter and one of my favorite ‘B”‘s Race With the Devil.
Appearing in all three films is Bruce Glover as Buford’s faithful deputy while Forrest Tucker is likable from his opening scene onwards in the role of Grandpa originated by Noah Beery Jr. who had done the first two films.
The Walking Tall story has been revived repeatedly over the years with Brian Dennehy and Dwayne Johnson taking the lead. Knowing Hollywood I would assume we’ll see another reincarnation of the famed Tennessee lawman again sometime in the future.
As this film’s trailer and poster point out to us. After seeing this film you’ll say, “BUFORD PUSSER, now there was a man.”
The trilogy was put out on blu ray last year in a nice package by Shout Factory which quickly found a home on my shelf.