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Walking Tall - A Southern Sheriff - My Homeland Hero - Buford Broke Bad in the Backwoods and Box office

Updated on September 11, 2014

Walking Tall: The original movie


Heroes inspire.

Somehow, they manage to go beyond normal expectations achieving a level of greatness rarely experienced by us normal people.

Be they superheroes that fly, have mega strength, laser beam eyes or those brave souls created in the realms of fiction to save the day in a more realistic way, they have been around as long as folks have been spinning tales.

Here you will find why Walking Tall, based on the true tale of Sheriff Buford Pusser, is my all time, favorite, true American hero, movie series. Don't get me wrong. I love a good fictional hero but there's something really special about a real one, an actual person that lived on this rock right along with the rest of us.

Buford was just such a man.

Born of humble circumstances, never handed anything, when confronted with brutality and corruption, he displayed a level of grit, a stamina, a dogged determination to make his world right that has become legend.

Born and raised in a small town in Tennessee, Buford grew to adulthood and went off chasing his fortune.

Before our tale begins, he was a wrestler of some repute. This was back during the good old days of touring and small town arenas across the south. Think 60's and 70's. Being a big boy and tough as nails, he did Okay for himself.

The second bar fight scene when Buford goes back after they almost killed him the first time.

But a man can't wrestle forever.

When still a young man, Buford brought his family home to Tennessee. He wanted to settle down, to provide a more stable environment for his children. While he had been away, things had changed.

The town was largely taken over by southern organized crime, bootleggers, pimps and fat cats with a taste for blood. Buford had a run in with brutality shortly after his homecoming.

What started as nothing more than a night catching up with old friends over a few cold ones turned into a fight for survival that found him bleeding, broken and left for dead on the side of the road. No one would have bet this man would have survived, much less ever thought of trying to fight back.

Walking Tall Part II


See an incredible, real life journey through corruption on a quest for justice.

Buford, being the above average American that he had to be, ended up taking on not only the crime syndicate in that part of the south, but also and possibly more importantly a corrupt local justice system.

He might have been a good old southern boy himself, but he was no dummy. Through hard work, dedicating himself to learning the law as a lawyer would without benefit of teachers and the courage to call things as they really were, Buford Pusser cleaned out an entire county.

I would be remiss if I did not point out that a huge part of the success of this series and Buford himself as sheriff was due to his ability to open a tremendous can of whop ass in a heartbeat, when required. Let us not forget, he was professional wrestler. However, I respectfully submit it was his prowess in the brain department much more so than physicality that ultimately led to his success.

Buford Pusser Legendary Lawman: A fan tribute created by my stuff.

Much more endearingly, Buford Pusser was a kind and gentle man, a good man.

So often, it is the case that heroes are hard. Not so in the case of Buford.

During a time when segregation might not be legal but was still in practice, he championed people of all color at further peril to himself.

Appointing a long time friend of color deputy on the tail end of Civil Rights in the south was just as dangerous as facing down any criminal.

The softness of heart this man embodied was further seen when he helped women enslaved to the sex trade, a staple of the criminal crowd right up there with the distribution and manufacturing of bootleg whiskey and gambling back in the day.

The Final Chapter

It rips my heart out every time I see it.
It rips my heart out every time I see it. | Source

Dirty deeds are done dirt cheap but good deeds come at a price.

When ever there was someone in need of a hero in his neck of the woods, Buford was there. I know of no other true American hero of that era exuding such integrity, such courage, such loyalty and devotion to what is right, to his community and those he loved.

While I love the series and I can't recommend it enough for those who love Americana, inspirational true tales, action, fight the power for the people type of flicks, it's not for everyone. It will rip your heart out. It's graphic, bloody, violent and brutal. It's not for the little ones. There are no happy endings here.

Endings are in reality nothing more than beginnings of something else, because all life is circular. The sacrifices of Sheriff Buford Pusser paved the way for good and innocent people to reclaim ground in the ongoing American fight against political corruption and crimes against the populace.

Walking Tall is undoubtedly one of the most inspirational true life accounts in modern America of real patriotism and pride in the American way I have ever seen. Would that we had but ten more just like Buford. America might not be in the sad state it currently finds itself.

Buford Pusser Museum: Video created by Laura Lynn

The great state of Tennessee is truly and rightly proud of the life of its own native son.

If ever in the area, you really should go by and check out the Buford Pusser Museum located in Adamsville, Tn.

You will see many monuments and even a stretch of highway named for this American hero. May God rest his soul.

A good story is always remade again and again be it based in fact or fiction.

With the approval of Buford's still living daughter, Dwana, Walking Tall was remade for a new generation. The story has changed just a bit, though the themes and basic conflict dynamics remain the same. That's not where the similarities end.

Staring The Rock, also known as Dwayne Johnson of former wrestling and football notoriety, the remake did well for itself. The setting is still largely the same though the bootleg whiskey has been upgraded to crystal meth.

I own both the old series and the new movie but being a die hard Buford fan, my first love will always be to the original. Though, The Rock is a major hottie ;). 

Walking Tall Official Trailer 2004

Theatrical trailer for Walking Tall 1973

Walking Tall - Part two - Theatrical trailer

Rolling Stone magazine named it the movie of the year.

Powerful, gripping, gut wrenching, fiction can't compare to this real life account of the difference one man can make. And, the price of it.

Released in 1973, Walking Tall swept the nation. Starring Joe Don Baker and Elizabeth Hartman, the first movie in the trilogy fires it up and it never stops throughout each installment.

Directed by Phil Karlson, approved by Sheriff Pusser's living family, Walking Tall was and will always be a national inspiration.

Pop music fans from back in the day will get a kick out of seeing a very young Leif Garratt portray Buford's son before the days when he became a teen dream, pop music singer.

Scope on the trailers for both the original trilogy and one of the new remakes dispersed throughout this article. Further included is a video straight from the museum dedicated to the celebration of this beloved American hero.

The theatrical trailer for Walking Tall: The Final Chapter

Who is your favorite real life American hero?

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    • Rhonda Lytle profile image

      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      @Heidi Vincent: Dr. King is truly an inspirational hero, no doubt. Thank you very much. i hope you enjoy the movies as I have. :) The photo was actually taken in Tn. very close to where the story took place. Blessings!

    • Heidi Vincent profile image

      Heidi Vincent 3 years ago from GRENADA

      Martin Luther King! Great review, poetvix! I need to go check out this movie. By the way, I like your background the real spirit of the movie :)

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image

      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      @bpratt lm: Enjoy! Thanks for the read and fun comment.

    • bpratt lm profile image

      bpratt lm 3 years ago

      I have yet to see it :( I will have to check it out! Thanks for the recommendation!

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image

      Rhonda Lytle 4 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      @WriterJanis2: I hope you like. :) I watched it again last night. Moving doesn't do it justice.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      I don't know how I missed this when it first came out Thanks for the recommendation.