Original & Redux. "Walking Tall" in the 70's and Today



I recently caught up with Walking Tall. No, no. Not the action blockbuster starring Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson but the original one from 1973 starring Joe Don Baker as an ex marine moving into a corrupt town and looking to clean it up from Prostitution, gambling &blackmail. Mind you, the picture I saw was not significantly any better than the remake from 5 years ago.  In a way it was a step lower in its action sequences and effects- most likely because the damn picture was made 36 years ago. The characters were overacting, the direction was sloppy and the action was -at times- not very well staged.

So why remake a movie that has clearly not the best of reputations? Most likely cause Walking Tall is based on an ideological, nowadays primitive, sense of violence in a male dominated society and portrays it as such in a macho kind of way, a way that would be copied by future action filmmakers and is still being copied to this day. It's was part of Americana where the man was the boss.

It was the start of action movie Machoism and came out right as the black panthers -& black people in general- were getting more and more freedoms due to the civil rights movement. It was a time when they started revolting and talking against all that was wrong in American society. It was also the end of Vietnam and the end of a presidential regime that had single-handedly destroyed the country. The movie explicitly draws upon these issues in a very thorough and direct way but it seems to be labeling these issues instead of going into them in a more forthright manner.

Walking Tall was the beginning of the action picture and the ticking point of the blockbuster era (2 years later Jaws would get released). If it weren't for this picture, there would probably be no Schwarznegger, Van Damme, The Rock or Stallone. Joe Don Baker brought forth the first alpha male action hero.

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