Walking Tall: The Trilogy

Walking Tall: The Trilogy
Buford Pusser was not a subtle man. After retiring from his wrestling career, Pusser returned to his hometown to settle down with his wife and family, and catch up with old friends. One of those friends took him to a seedy bar on the edge of town, where he got into a fight after catching the owner cheating at the craps table. He got the worst of the scuffle and was dumped on the side of road, bleeding and unconscious. The corrupt sheriff didn't do anything and so once he recovered, Pusser returned to the club to extract justice using a large piece of wood, which he used to beat the crap out of everyone involved. That got him arrested for assault, although after representing himself in court, he was acquitted and decided to run for sheriff and clean up the town ― using a big stick. And that is the basic premise for all three movies in the Walking Tall Trilogy. He fights against corruption using unorthodox methods and comes to blows with the criminal element in the county who are running successful brothels and bootlegging stills. Pusser gets results, but at a high cost ― the bad guys come at him repeatedly, trying to assassinate him and killing his wife in the process. Yet he keeps going and becomes a legendary figure along the way. At least legendary enough to have three films made about him. Even though this is supposedly a real-life story, it's very hard to believe that Pusser somehow survived the litany of attacks and attempts on his life. Apparently while sheriff, he was stabbed on seven occasions and shot on eight, meaning that things were actually toned down for this trilogy. But it is that need for both justice and revenge that makes Walking Tall at least somewhat gripping. If it was a completely fictional movie, then it would come to a satisfying resolution, but that isn't the case here ― by the time the third film comes to an end, only some loose ends are tied up. Don't expect happily ever after. The trilogy is, not surprisingly, a little uneven. The first film is definitely the best, with Final Chapter: Walking Tall coming a close second. The second movie feels like a "made for television" film, mainly because of the dialled down level of violence and the ruthless heartstring pulling it frequently resorts to. Similarly, Joe Don Baker (who only stars in the first film) is a more convincing Buford Pusser than Bo Svenson, although that might be in part due to the script. The movies themselves are fairly low budget and verge on that '70s cheesiness, although it helps that there's grittiness to the subject matter and the unflinching way the violence is portrayed; it doesn't hold back. The transition to Blu-Ray isn't vital considering that these aren't the best-looking movies, but odds are they've never looked better than this. There is only really one sizeable extra included ― a new 30-minute documentary about Pusser, which has interviews with both actors from the movies and members of Pusser's family. It definitely paints a rosy picture of Pusser. There are also a handful of trailers, T.V. spots and a very brief behind-the-scenes feature from back in 1975. (Shout! Factory)