Real American Hero
Action, Drama | 94 mins | Released: 1978
Director: Lou Antonio
Starring: Brian Dennehy, Forrest Tucker, Sheree North, Brian Kerwin, Ken Howard, Lane Bradbury, Brad David
Our Rating: 7
The speak-softly, carry-a-big-stick Sheriff Buford Pusser is hot on the tale of a Tennessee moonshiner in this television movie. This is another in the series of successful Walking Tall films where the big-fisted sheriff from Selmer, Tennessee keeps a tight ship.
The movie, set in 1967, is about the real-life sheriff Buford Pusser, who goes after a criminal who has killed young people with his illegal moonshine. Brian Dennehy plays Pusser. The rest of the cast include Ken Howard, Sheree North, Forrest Tucker, and Brian Kerwin. The film was originally entitled The Letter Of The Law (which appears in the closing credits) and was released on VHS as Hard Stick.
This made-for-TV actioner was designed as the pilot for a series based on the popular Walking Tall films of the 1970s. This time out, a young Brian Dennehy is cast as the stick-wielding, scrupulously honest Tennessee sheriff Buford Pusser (played in the films by Joe Don Baker and Bo Svenson), with Forrest Tucker repeating his role from Walking Tall: The Final Chapter as Pusser’s father.
“Buford Pusser was the controversial Southern sheriff whose wife was murdered by criminals he was pursuing. He may or may not have had a hand in the bloody deaths of those same criminals and he himself was killed under mysterious circumstances a few years later. In the early seventies, his story was turned into Walking Tall, a cult classic which tied into the whole Dirty Harry/Death Wish/”take the law into your own hands” vigilante genre that Nixon’s America made de rigeur. A prime irony in these films was that while they celebrated the principles of “law and order” they actually advocated the opposite: individuals circumventing legal niceties to enforce a justice more to their own liking. This theme has been continually popular throughout the history of cinema.” – Joe Bocko, Lost in the Movies, 2008.
Buford Pusser in the opening narration: “The wrong kind of people have had their say for too long and I want to remind them that somewhere in this world there is a little law and order left – to let them know in the only way their kind understands, that they can’t bribe or threaten their way and they will damn well pay, pay dearly, for every crime they commit.”