“I remember when you used to walk tall, now it looks like you learned how to crawl!” blubbers Buford Pusser, in this largely fictionalized biography, the first of 3 films based on the purported exploits of this mega-Bubba, small town sheriff. The first, a redneck masterpiece directed by Phil Karlson, concerns a pro-wrestler who returns to his home town to find it is overrun with seedy gangsters and corrupt politicians. After a brutal beating, he decides to take the law(and a very big stick) into his own hands. This one is long on violence and action scenes, some of the best you’ll see in the genre. The fight scenes with the aforementioned stick, are still very jarring. Joe Don Baker was made for this part, the Bo’s Svenson and Hopkins(in the sequels) never investing the sympathy Baker drew out of the role. It seems quite novel to see an American non-dysfunctional family portrayal these days, and Elizabeth Hartman(wife) and Noah Beery Jr.(Buford’s father) do an admirable job. My personal favorites are Felton Perry(Magnum Force) and Bruce Glover(Diamonds are Forever) in supporting roles. There is some great faux-rock music, along with some rather large Afro’s, so the viewer will always know this is a 70’s flick. This might be the last time I’ve heard the hero say the “N” word in a film. Considering this was low-budget, it looks very well done, and this one made a huge amount of money. The sequels were not as good as this, but they had their moments, too.