Friday, June 25, 2010

70's Cinema: WALKING TALL

"We otta take Sir Lancelot's big stick and shove it up his ass!" I think this quote from the film WALKING TALL explains just how all the moonshiners, pimps, hustlers and general bad folks of a small town in Tennessee feel about their new sheriff.

WALKING TALL is the true story Buford Pusser, an ex-marine/ex-pro wrestler, who decides to give up the seedy world of professional wrestling and move his family back to his hometown in Tennessee. With two screaming kids and his fake Sissy Spacek wife on his side, he is hell bent on making his life better and playing by the rules for a change. "No fighting" he promises to fake Sissy. But we soon learn, that Buford has a hard time playing by the rules and sitting on the sidelines as his hick hometown gets over run by corruption. He breaks one of the many rules for moving back to your hometown. Don't go running around with some old high school buddies if you haven't talked to them in years. It's always bad news. He ends up in the middle of a whorehouse/gambling ring and is beaten up and stabbed over and over. Tossed onto the side of the highway and left for dead, Buford then and there has his "A-HA" moment". Bring them all to justice or KILL EM ALL.

Months later, he represents himself in a trial against those that attacked him and in one of many Joe Don Baker diva moments, he rips his shirt off to reveal countless stab wounds to the jury. He wins and gets elected sheriff, much to the chagrin of fake Sissy Spacek. To please fake Sissy, he does not carry a gun, but a huge stick which he uses to break legs, backs, arms, heads and bust out car windows.

Basically, he fights everyone and wins the hearts of the townspeople and along they way teaches the deputies that going the straight and narrow in law enforcement is much cooler than chilling with the corruption of the county. Then he gets shot over and over and keeps on coming back.

WALKING TALL is all over the place. With a run time of 124 minutes, it runs full steam for about an hour and fifteen minutes. Juxtaposing from campy Hixploitation to gritty hardhitting drama throughout. The scene when Pusser and his deputies capture the spy within the sheriff's department has got to be one of the most insane and suspenseful moments in the movie. Joe Don Baker is such a loose cannon, you actually have no idea what he is going to do to the fella. What happens is not pretty and very unexpected. For the last 45 minutes of WALKING TALL, the movie shifts to a heavy handed drama that basically makes the audience and the actors suffer over and over, then Joe Don Baker gets shot again and this time has to wear a SILENCE OF THE LAMBS mask because he got nailed in the face! The finale is a return to its hixploitation roots and truly is one of the moments in a film that you must see to actually believe it. Baker sells it though.

I have always been a big fan of Joe Don Bake, I always like a sweaty male diva. Somehow had never seen this movie, but I am happy I did. WALKING TALL definitely makes you want to go bust some ass.

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