High Strangeness in the Seventies: Walking Tall


Den of Geek has an interesting article about one of the most bizarrely self-referential film series of all time, the Walking Tall movies. The first movie starts with:

In 1962, Buford Pusser, a professional wrestler known as Buford the Bull, retired from the ring and moved back home to Tennessee with his wife and kids, hoping for a quieter, more peaceful rural life. Unfortunately in the years since he moved away, McNairy County, near the Tennessee-Mississippi border, had been overrun with gambling, prostitution, and free-flowing moonshine thanks to a local crime syndicate sometimes called the Dixie Mafia.

Mortified by what had become of his sleepy and innocent hometown, Pusser ran for McNairy County Sheriff in 1964 and won after the incumbent died in a car accident. Upon taking office, Pusser undertook what was essentially a one-man war against vice and corruption, often with very bloody results, as he tried to drive the mob out of the county.

The first movie plays the story pretty straight (although note how the incumbent died—that’ll come back in a moment). By the third movie we are in a bizarre Twilight Zone episode about the making of the first movie, including discarded clips from the actual film.

Oh, and that car crash? Well, in real life Burford Pusser signed a contract to play himself in the second film, and promptly went out and drove into what a newspaper account described as a “small embankment.”

Stranger than fiction, huh?