HTF REVIEW: "The Walking Tall Trilogy" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Feb 12, 2003.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    The Walking Tall Trilogy

    Studio: Rhino
    Year: 1973-1977
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 350 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: Full Frame (1.33:1)
    Subtitles: None

    The last thing I enjoy watching is any film about
    red-necked white trash. So what am I doing reviewing
    a film like Walking Tall? Well, it happens
    to be the very first screener DVD that Rhino
    Home Video
    has sent me, and out of respect for
    that, I figured I would give this film a look.

    I am actually only going to review the first film
    of this trilogy, Walking Tall, released in
    1973. I didn't want to go beyond the original
    release simply because Rhino didn't give me an
    incentive to watch the sequels. I'll talk about
    all of this in just a moment.

    Walking Tall is loosely based on the life
    of Buford Pusser, a Sheriff in Adamsville, Tennessee
    who died in a mysterious car crash in 1974. His
    story is perhaps one of the bloodiest true stories
    ever brought to the screen. It sort of became a
    1970s drive-in exploitation flick best described
    as Dirty Harry set in the country.


    Joe Don Baker gives a top-notch performance as
    Buford Pusser, a retired wrestler who now seeks a
    quieter life with his wife, two children and dog.
    They have moved back to Buford's old stomping ground
    in Adamasville, Tennessee. It doesn't take long
    for him to realize that times have changed for the
    worse, finding the town overrun with gambling,
    prostitution and general corruption. Upon a visit
    to a local gambling joint, Pusser witnesses cheating
    at the craps table and proceeds to make a stink
    about it only to be outnumbered by locals boys who
    cut his chest and abdomen with a knife and dump him
    in a ditch to die


    This sets Pusser on a mission to bring down the
    evil forces in the small town, which includes every
    bar owner, peace officer and even the judge. He runs
    for town Sheriff and wins. He elects a black man
    as his deputy. With a big stick in hand, Pusser
    goes after illegal casinos and moonshiners -- but
    there seem to be villains everywhere who are intent
    on seeing the Sheriff dead.

    Released in 1973, this gritty backwoods Mafia tale
    caused quite a stir with the MPAA, who was in the
    initial process of introducing their new ratings
    system. The studio launched an ad campaign aimed
    at parents, letting them know that the "R" rated
    Walking Tall contained violence and not sex,
    and therefore was good family entertainment! If
    you have had the opportunity to watch this film,
    you know it is anything BUT family entertainment.

    I actually enjoyed this film (despite its awful
    presentation on DVD) due its raw and realistic
    look at a corrupt southern town and it's "Real
    American Hero."


    The Walking Tall Trilogy arrives in a
    partially slipcased cardboard package whose innards
    slide out into a 4-pane gatefold that house the
    three DVD titles, Walking Tall, Walking Tall:
    Part II
    and Walking Tall: The Final Chapter
    in plastic hub housing. A 2-page chapter index
    booklet resides in the far left pane pocket.

    How is the transfer?


    I am extremely disappointed with Rhino Home Video's
    treatment to the first film. To begin with, this is
    a full-frame release. You would think that a
    quality-driven company like Rhino would know better
    and have splurged on anamorphic presentations. It
    also doesn't seem like the film is properly framed
    as an overhead boom mike consistently reappears in
    the upper portion of the frame throughout the film.
    To make matters worse, the film looks washed-out
    and muddy, without any attention given to detail
    or sharpness. Colors look absolutely bland and
    flesh tones are overly red. There are blemishes and
    film jumps scattered throughout. It is apparent
    that Rhino Home Video just didn't give a crap about
    what they were putting out as there was no effort
    given to restoring this film.


    The audio is just as bad as the video presentation.
    The mono soundtrack comes across as sounding harsh
    and flat without any added dynamics. In short, this
    film looks and sounds as bad something you would see
    on late-night broadcast television.

    There are also no subtitles included here nor
    any indication on the packaging of closed captioning.
    This is extremely disrespectful to the hearing
    impaired community.

    Special Features

    There are none

    Final Thoughts


    For years, I have collected much of Rhino's
    music compilations on CD due to the fact that the
    company really put a quality effort into their
    releases. I had hoped for the exact same effort
    to be found in their Home Video product, but am
    shocked by what I have seen today. They have pretty
    much thrown together a boxed set with complete
    disregard to presentation quality, supplemental
    material and subtitles that would aid the hearing
    impaired community.

    It's a real shame. I really liked Walking Tall,
    a film that shows true strength in its subject matter,
    and if it had been properly presented on the DVD
    format I think I could have given this film a good
    sell. The problem is, unless you are a hardcore fan
    of this film, the DVD isn't a very good sell at all.

    Release Date: NOW

    All screen captures have been further compressed.
    They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
    represent actual picture quality
  2. Jordan_E

    Jordan_E Cinematographer

    Jan 3, 2002
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    Bummer. I rememeber seeing the two sequels when I was a kid (hell, in those days we went to anything that came to the local theater, even The Giant Spider Invasion) and kind of wanted to pick up these movies, but why inflict this harm on my poor HDTV?
  3. Randy A Salas

    Randy A Salas Screenwriter

    Apr 25, 2002
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    Unlike its audio releases, none of Rhino's video products are of particularly high presentation quality. The Gumby DVD boxed set is arguably the best thing Rhino has put out, but nothing was really done to clean up the image quality of the films.
  4. Mark Cappelletty

    Mark Cappelletty Cinematographer

    Jun 6, 1999
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    This is one of my favorite films of all time and the presentation is just awful. While I got these for free (through my friend at the Rhino Records retail store), I'm bummed that NOTHING was done to clean these up from the video masters-- there are times that you can see a tape glitch on the upper part of the image. I noticed a lot of smearing as well. I'm almost wishing I had my old VHS tapes back!

    The Rhino MST3K DVDs are good because the source material is solid, but it's clear that Rhino either doesn't have the resources in their video department to do the job right or just doesn't care otherwise. If Image can make some of the godawful (in a good way) Something Weird films look as good as they do and provide at least some extras, Rhino should be able to go the extra mile. And they don't. With Rhino corporate being absorbed into Warner Bros., this will either get better or worse.
  5. Mark Cappelletty

    Mark Cappelletty Cinematographer

    Jun 6, 1999
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    Also, if you're a "Walking Tall" fan, there's some bad news on the horizon-- MGM is planning a remake written by the guy who penned "Kiss The Girls" (David Klass) and starring The Rock. I've read the script and it's awful. Buford is now a former Army officer named "Tom" and he is fighting crystal meth labs in the Pacific Northwest. The ending is completely different as well (going for a generic action showdown in a lumber mill instead of the tragic approach taken by the original).

  6. Blu

    Blu Screenwriter

    Oct 6, 2001
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    I really admired the Walking Tall movie and am a fan. I really feel that these movies deserve a much better presentation than the junk that was released.
    I don't know how much of the Walking Tall story is true in the movie but it really is quite amazing what the real Buford Pusser did in his time.
  7. Randy B A

    Randy B A Supporting Actor

    Feb 11, 2002
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