|Walking Tall: The Final Chapter (1977)|
|Writers:||Howard B. Kreitsek and Samuel A. Peeples|
|Starring:||Bo Svenson, Lurene Tuttle, Leif Garrett and Forrest Tucker|
|The Plot: In this third and final film in the original Walking Tall series, we follow Buford Pusser (Bo Svenson) once again as he lives out his final days. Still angry after the death of his wife, Buford continues to search for the man responsible for her death. However, he finds nothing but red tape standing in his way. Not only that, but there is an election coming up and the tides are slowly turning against Buford. Many of the residents, seeing the violence that has ensued since Pusser took over, have decided that they would like to see someone else filling his shoes. So, inevitably Buford does indeed lose in his election attempt, but he doesn’t let this bring him down. Even though he and his family are now in great debt, he looks for more answers by looking for employment in the highway patrol. However, a blessing comes his way when a movie producer expresses interest in taking his story and making it into a hollywood film. Although things are certainly looking up for Buford now, his war on crime will not subside!|
The sense of fun from the second movie does continue with the third film, even though it tries to include both the drama and the sleaze of the first movie. With the silly atmosphere of the second movie also comes the slightly episodic nature that plagued Bo Svenson’s first outing as Buford Pusser. There are numerous small subplots that pop up that seem to serve little purpose within the movie. One of the more interesting moments comes when Pusser wanders across a moonshiner in the woods who is abusive to his son. Pusser decides, as any law enforcement officer would, to strip the man naked and proceed to spank him with a tree branch. This makes for one of the most utterly bizarre scenes throughout the entire trilogy, and makes for a very weird cinematic moment altogether. The most poignant subplot development would obviously be a small relationship that builds between Buford and a young woman who is a reformed prostitute. Buford, knowing her past, is able to accept her despite these things. However, there are obvious conflicts that come with this sort of thing. Otherwise, we might not have the necessary drama that a movie about Buford Pusser needs!
The character of Buford Pusser, despite this being his third film, really hasn’t learned his lessons about beating and extorting people, or so it seems. Even though he faced the same opposition to his brutish tactics during the very first film, he once again tackles many of the same issues in this third title. The first film actually established that Buford eventually turned his back on his original lawless way of upholding justice, but here we find him once again beating and abusing the citizenry while trying to maintain arrests. Buford was shown to be a simple man in the first movie, but he became much more calculating as the movie went along. Yet, here we are and it is as if the lessons in the first film never took place. We find him doing very little to keep a lid on his temper and continually acting outside of the law, despite his foreknowledge that the “crooked” system will protect any criminal he arrests without following the proper procedures. I found his actions terribly naive this go-around, and not in keeping with the character. As the movie goes along, he seems to become more and more destructive to anyone who would question his authority. Although he is still absolutely the hero of our movie, there’s a definite moral ambiguity in his actions if you really sit down and think about what he is doing. He truly is using the law as an umbrella for him to handle his own personal vendettas. This is something different than what the first two movies represented. In the past, the crooked courts and systems may have inhibited a less knowledgeable Pusser – but now it seems as if Pusser has turned his back on the law itself. Even the laws that actually do make sense!