Final Chapter: Walking Tall (1977)
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SUMMARY: The movie begins with Buford (Bo Svenson) remembering the ambush that killed his wife. One year has passed, and Buford still has a hard time dealing with it. He goes to his wife's grave and breaks down, telling her that if he had listened to her about not being sheriff, she would still be alive. Buford then goes to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation wanting to know why John Witter (Logan Ramsey) (who ordered the ambush) is not in jail. Buford is told that there is nothing that can be done since they have no case against him. Pinky Dobson is paralyzed and his girlfriend retracted her statement implicating Witter. Buford then goes to see his friend, attorney Lloyd Tatum (Sandy McPeak) and asks if this is the case. Lloyd tells Buford that it's just the way the law reads, and he will have to be patient and let the TBI do their job. John Witter is now in New York, and tells his boss (Morgan Woodward) that he will settle things with Buford finally. The boss tells Witter that he should face the fact that Pusser beat him, and let it be at that. There isn't any prostitution, stills or gambling left in McNairy County, and the boss doesn't want back in. Witter is told that due to his mistakes, he must cede 25% of his territory, which Witter says he doesn't have to accept, but the boss tells him he will. Meanwhile Buford and Grady (Bruce Glover) are staking out a still being run by O.Q. Teal (Clay Tanner) and his brother Udell (Michael Allen Honacker). Buford witnesses O.Q. beating his son Robby (David Adams), and intervenes. He takes Robby to the car and tells Grady to entertain him while he deals with O.Q. Buford orders O.Q. to drop his trousers and proceeds to give him the same kind of beating he gave his son. They then depart, blasting the still as they leave. Buford takes Robby to a foster home, and returns to the office to find a telephone message from Luan Paxton (Margaret Blye) a prostitute who helped Buford get rid of the state line gang. Buford arrives at the motel and upon seeing Luan, asks her if she is still hooking. He is surprised when she tells him that she is on her way to the gulf coast and works in real estate. Buford arrives at home and his dad, Carl (Forrest Tucker) tells him that his tax situation is bad due to all the expenditures he incurred while sheriff. Buford says he will ask the county for a raise after reelection. Carl asks Buford if he really wants to remain sheriff despite all the pain it has caused, and Buford says it's the only thing he knows how to do. Buford arrives at his office the next morning to find O.J. Teal's lawyer, French (Taylor Lacher) waiting. French shows Buford the pictures taken of O.Q. after the beating that Buford inflicted on him. French wants Buford to drop the charges against O.Q. and in return he will not file police brutality charges. Buford declines to which French reminds him that the office of sheriff is up for election soon. Buford has a meeting with Sheriff Clegg (Lecile Harris) from Hardin County. Sheriff Clegg wants Buford to check out a new club called the 3 Deuces. The club is in an area that no county claims, and Buford is reluctant to involve him, since he will be up for reelection soon, but reluctantly agrees. As they are talking, some boys steal Bufords car and go for a joy ride. Buford and Sheriff Clegg give chase, and finally catch them. Buford takes them into custody, handcuffs them to each other, and has them clean up the courthouse lawn. French sees this, and confronts Buford about their civil rights. Buford says that the alternative, detention hall and a police record would be a lot worse. One of the witnesses watching the boys at the courthouse places a phone call to John Witter filling him in on everything that happened. Witter believes he can use this against Pusser on Election Day. Pusser goes to the 3 Deuces bar, and is surprised to see Luan there. Angry that she is still a prostitute, he offers her money, which Bulow (H.B. Haggerty) the bar manager sees. After Buford leaves, Bulow confronts Luan, and tortures her.
QUESTIONS: Why did Buford run for reelection? Did Buford really think he was going to win? On the other hand, Buford run for reelection because he didn't know how to do anything else? Why are Buford parent's beginning to worry? Why was Buford fixing up old cars and then selling them? What happen to Buford's car? Were there any witness? Why did Buford visit his wife's grave? Why did Dwana show up at here's mom grave? Who contacts Buford about a story? Why is Buford reluctant to sign a contract? Why did Buford seek help from Lloyd?
MY THOUGHTS: I give this movie 8 weasel stars because of the suspense that keeps watching the picture and the action.
There was promise in the sequence when Pusser sells his life story to the big screen (including when Pusser tells why he is reluctant to do so) but they don't spend much time in this sequence.
If you don't care about this, and just want to see Pusser swing his bat at heads, you should know there isn't much of that this time around. Most of the movie is just people talking, and it's not interesting talk. If you know what happened to Pusser, then there's no reason for you to see this movie.
Directed with trademark muscular aplomb by Jack Starrett, with a strong script by Howard B. Kreitsek and Samuel A. Peoples, an engrossing story that unfolds at a constant pace, a few potent moments of bloody'n'brutal violence, a tough serious tone, an interesting subtext concerning changing social mores and victims of progress, and several exciting and well-staged action set pieces, this film packs essentially the same fierce punch as the excellent original. Furthermore, it's compelling to see Pusser try to do something else with his life besides being a lawman and eventually cutting a deal with Hollywood types who want to make a movie about his exploits because he desperately needs the money.
Svenson gets to show a greater range of emotion this time out and rises well to that particular challenge. In addition, there are sound supporting contributions from Forrest Tucker as Buford's hearty dad, Sandy McPeak as helpful lawyer buddy Lloyd Tatum, Logan Ramsey as slimy toad John Witter, Dawn Lynn as Buford's spunky daughter Dwana, Margaret Blythe as the sultry Luan, Libby Boone as smitten secretary Joan, H. B. Haggerty as the brutish Bulo, and Morgan Woodward as fearsome bigwig the Boss. Robert B. Hauser's polished cinematography boasts the occasional snazzy visual flourish. A worthy closer.
Still as in real life we find that the sheriff with the stick was not universally popular. You take the approach he does to law enforcement and eventually people will fear you. That was a plot in fact for two westerns with Richard Widmark, Warlock and Death Of A Gunfighter. Pusser was in fact defeated for re-election.
But news of his exploits in cleaning up his county and all the attempts on his life got him a Hollywood offer for his life story. And then came the car crash that ended his life.
I'll never understand why Joe Don Baker didn't do the sequels. To this day it's the role people remember him for because he was so good in the part. Bo Svensson for the rest of his life always came out second best even with more Walking Tall movie to his credit. My best cinema memory of Svensson was as the guy employing Clint Eastwood's wife Marsha Mason in his joint in Heartbreak Ridge.
This film maybe entitled Final Chapter, but it was by no means a fade to black for the Walking Tall hero Buford Pusser.
The first sequel, in which Baker was replaced by Bo Svenson, was a boring, by-the-numbers follow-up, with none of the force of the original.
The second sequel is even worse; talky and drab, it exploits (in an almost cannibalistic way) the first movie by lifting and recreating the most famous sequences from it. There are a few good moments (when Pusser picks up his trusty bat), but they are very scarce.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris Dauphine, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne & University Versailles Saint Quentin en Yvelines
The first movie in the series had a lot to tell about Bufford Pusser's life and the second in the series had just had few thing that really happened to Bufford but not enough to make it interesting and now the 3rd movie in the series is just horrible worst then the second one and this one doesn't tell anything real about Bufford life except for when he died at the end.
If anyone if planning on watching this movie you should not watch this one and just watch the first in the series its more interesting then this one.Please don't waste your time watching this movie go on and make coffee instead.
Buford is filled with gulit and remorse. If he had not been Sheriff his wife would still be alive. But Buford only knows one thing and that's action. He continues his war and dries up the county and breaks the back of the state line mob. Soon Re Election comes up and Buford is voted out of office. It seems the people want change. and Buford's violent war is something they want to put behind them.
So Buford decides to fix cars up and sell them. However some people have a hard time in accepting the fact that Buford is no longer sheriff and call him for help. His enemies attack him. And Buford tries to move on with his life. A Hollywood producer sees a news story on Buford and decides to make a film based on Buford's life. This leads to Buford helping out with the film in telling his story. the end of the film comes with the tragic death of Buford Pusser just days before he was to step in front of the cameras to film Buford. a film continuing his story. A fitting end to the legend of Buford Pusser.