Retro Television Reviews: Fantasy Island 2.6 “War Games/Queen of the Boston Bruisers”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Tuesdays, I will be reviewing the original Fantasy Island, which ran on ABC from 1977 to 1986.  The entire show is currently streaming on Tubi!

It’s time for another tonally confusing trip to Fantasy Island!

Episode 2.6 “War Games/Queen of the Boston Bruisers”

(Dir by Earl Bellamy, originally aired on October 28th, 1978)

We’re just six episodes into the second season of Fantasy Island but a definite pattern has emerged.  Just as in the first season, each episode features two fantasies.  But, in the second season, it appears that one fantasy is always comedic and the second is always serious.  This has created an interesting tonal mishmash on Fantasy Island.  Mr. Roarke spends half of his time laughing at the silliness of it all and the other half warning people that their fantasy could lead to death.

Take this episode for instance.

Rowdy Roberts (Anne Francis) is a roller derby champ whose fantasy is to become a “gentlelady” so that she can impress her daughter’s future in-laws.  (Rowdy’s future son-in-law, meanwhile, is played by a young Jonathan Frakes.)  Mr. Roarke and Tattoo spend an entire weekend teaching Rowdy how to speak properly, how to eat with silverware, and all the rest.  However, snobbish Betty Wendover (Joanna Barnes) doesn’t want her son marrying Rowdy’s daughter so she arranges for Rowdy’s roller derby rival, Hooligan Hanreddy (Mary Jo Catlett), to come to the island and challenge Rowdy to a fight.  Rowdy throws a punch and then runs off, ashamed at not being sophisticated.  But, it turns out that Rowdy’s future son-in-law is really impressed with what Rowdy did and the wedding takes place after all.  Yay!

Needless to say, this is all incredibly silly but it’s meant to be silly and both Anne Francis and Mary Jo Catlett seem to be having fun overplaying their rivalry.  There is nothing particularly realistic about this fantasy but it’s not meant to be.  It’s meant to make the viewer smile and, for the most part, that’s what it does.

But, at the same time, Vietnam vet Joe Beck (Christopher George) is chasing another Vietnam vet, attorney Ted Harmon (Greg Morris), through the jungle, intent on killing him.  Joe blames Ted for the death of Joe’s younger brother.  Apparently, they were all POWs together and Joe’s brother died during an escape.  Joe is convinced that Ted betrayed his country.  This is all pretty dramatic and it’s hard not to wonder why Roarke would have agreed to sponsor this fantasy in the first place.  Ted is a prominent attorney who is thinking of running for political office.  If he was murdered on Fantasy Island, that wouldn’t do much for the island’s reputation.  Fortunately, it all works out in the end as Joe discovers that his younger brother is not only still alive but that he’s also the one who informed the VC about the escape attempt.  Amazingly, Ted doesn’t seem to be at all upset that he was nearly murdered over a mistake.  I guess that’s the magic of Fantasy Island.

These two fantasies didn’t really go together and, as a result, this episode feels a bit messy.  But there is one cute moment in which Tattoo reveals to Mr. Rourke that his new side hustle involves selling phony college degrees.

Go Tattoo!

Retro Television Reviews: Fantasy Island 2.2 “The Big Dipper/The Pirate”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Tuesdays, I will be reviewing the original Fantasy Island, which ran on ABC from 1977 to 1986.  The entire show is currently streaming on Tubi!

Smiles, everyone, smiles!  How silly can things get this week?

Episode 2.2 “The Big Dipper/The Pirate”

(Dir by Earl Bellamy, originally aired on September 23rd, 1978)

Pete Raymond (Dan Rowan) and his daughter, Harmony (Jill Whelan), are professional pickpockets who are hiding out from a determined NYPD Detective named Broylan (Cameron Mitchell).  What better place to hide than Fantasy Island?  After stealing a ticket to the island from a reverend, Pete discovers that “his” fantasy is to work on a farm.  Of course, as you probably already guessed, the fantasy is actually Harmony’s.  She wants her father to calm down and live a normal life, away from committing crimes and fleeing the police.  At first, farmwork seems to agree with Pete but then Broylan shows up on the island.

I’ve often wondered about the legal status of Fantasy Island.  Is it an independent nation or is it territory of the United States or a member of the Commonwealth?  Some of the episodes during the first season suggested that Fantasy Island was a territory of the United States.  However, in this episode, Roarke reminds Broylan that the NYPD has no jurisdiction in Fantasy Island and that the island is not required to turn anyone over to America.  Pete is eventually arrested but Mr. Roarke explains that the Fantasy Island magistrate has ruled that Pete and Harmony can stay on the island and work on the farm.  When Broylan demands to know who the magistrate is, Mr. Roarke replies that he is.  So, apparently, we are now back to Fantasy Island being a separate nation where Mr. Roarke makes and interprets all of the laws.

The legal status of Fantasy Island was probably the most interesting thing about this fantasy.  It’s always fun to see Cameron Mitchell playing an obsessed cop but Dan Rowan gives a lousy performance as Pete and it’s never really clear how Harmony was able to set up the fantasy in the first place.  I mean, it obviously took a lot of planning on her part.  Did Mr. Roarke charge her the full price or is she another one of the freeloaders that Tattoo is always complaining about?

The show’s other fantasy is even more ridiculous and, not coincidentally, it’s also a lot more fun.  Painter Ted Cavanaugh (Sonny Bono) is upset that his ex-wife Mary (Diana Canova) is going to be marrying some stuffy rich guy so he asks to be transformed into an 18th century pirate so that he can kidnap Mary and convince her that she’s still in love with him.  WHAT!?  It’s totally completely ludicrous but …. I don’t know.  Sonny Bono is kind of funny as a pirate.  If you’re going to have a silly fantasy, you might as well go out and make it as silly as humanly possible and that’s definitely what happens here.  Fortunately, it all works out in the end.  Who can resist a pirate?

Retro Television Reviews: Fantasy Island 2.1 “Homecoming/The Sheikh”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Tuesdays, I will be reviewing the original Fantasy Island, which ran on ABC from 1977 to 1986.  The entire show is currently streaming on Tubi!

This week, we begin season two of Fantasy Island!

Episode 2.1 “Homecoming/The Sheikh”

(Dir by Earl Bellamy, originally aired on September 16th, 1978)

The second season of Fantasy Island begins with a bizarre mishmash of tones.

As usual, there are two fantasies.  The first fantasy features David Birney as Alan Boardman.  As Mr. Roarke explains it, Alan served in Viet Nam.  He was horribly burned in battle and captured by the Viet Cong.  He spent years, as an amnesiac, in a POW camp.  In the United States, he was reported to have been killed in action.  Finally, he was released from the POW camp and he underwent extensive plastic surgery.  He now looks completely different than he did in his past life.  It was only after the plastic surgery that Alan remembered who he was.  He also remembered that he had a wife (Lynda Day George) and a son (Ronnie Scribner).  Alan comes to Fantasy Island, hoping to be reunited with his family.  However, there’s a complication.  Alan’s wife has remarried and she still believes Alan to be dead.  Alan meets his wife and his son but he has to pretend to be a stranger.  Alan must decide whether to reveal his true identity or to accept that his wife has moved on and now has a new life.

Wow, that’s really dark!  It’s an extremely serious story, one that ends on a bittersweet note that will leave no one truly satisfied.  David Birney and Lynda Day George both give intense performances as they struggle to come to terms with the horror of the Vietnam War….

Meanwhile, the other fantasy features Arte Johnson as Edgar, a meek school teacher who wants to be a sheikh with a harem.  Seriously, that’s his entire fantasy.  Of course, once he becomes a sheikh, he discovers that his servant (played by Sid Haig) is a part of a conspiracy to murder him.  It also turns out that a member of the harem is actually one of Edgar’s fellow teachers, Yasmine (Georgia Engel).  Yasmine’s fantasy was for Edgar to finally notice her so Roarke’s solution was to force her to be a member of a harem!  (Really, Mr. Roarke?)  This fantasy is played for laughs and the comedy is extremely broad.  It’s somewhat jarring to go from David Birney obsessing on the war to Arte Johnson grinning at the members of his harem.  It’s such a tonal mismatch that it makes it difficult to get invested in either fantasy.

While all of this is going on, Tattoo is feeling depressed and suffering from ennui.  Mr. Roarke solves this problem by giving Tattoo a tiny car that he can drive around.  In this episode, Mr. Roarke doesn’t seem to openly dislike Tattoo as much as he did during the first season so I’ll be interested to see if that trend continues.  Reportedly, Ricardo Montalban and Herve Villechaize did not have the best working relationship but, in this episode, Roarke and Tattoo actually seem to have a vague respect of one another.  It’s a change of pace.

Anyway, this episode doesn’t work because the fantasies don’t really mesh well.  However …. SID HAIG!

Retro Television Reviews: Fantasy Island 1.13 “Fool For A Client/Double Your Pleasure”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Tuesdays, I will be reviewing the original Fantasy Island, which ran on ABC from 1977 to 1986.  The entire show is currently streaming on Tubi!

This week’s episode of Fantasy Island is …. well, let’s just say that not every fantasy can be a winner.

Episode 1.13 “Fool For A Client/Double Your Pleasure”

(Dir by Earl Bellamy, originally aired on May 13th, 1978)

This episode begins with Tattoo suffering from a toothache and Mr. Roarke giving him a hard time about it.  Indeed, Mr. Roarke seems to take an almost sadistic delight in telling Tattoo that he shall have to see a dentist.  The relationship of Mr. Roarke and Tattoo strikes me as being an odd one.  On the one hand, Roarke allows Tattoo to handle the money and Tattoo appears to be the second-in-command.  One assumes that, if Mr. Roarke ever went on vacation, Tattoo would be left in charge.  At the same time, Mr. Roarke doesn’t seem to particularly like Tattoo and he seems to take a lot of pleasure from the various humiliations that Tattoo suffers on a weekly basis.  From what I understand, Ricardo Montalban and Herve Villechaize were not exactly friends offscreen so perhaps, this is just a case of reality bleeding into fiction.

Anyway, Tattoo’s toothache is perhaps the most interesting thing about this episode.  Both of the fantasies are kind of lame.

In the first fantasy, Ken Berry plays Larry, a blue collar guy who has spent 12 years working on the Alaskan pipeline.  His fantasy is to spend the weekend with two beautiful women.  No sooner has Larry arrived on Fantasy Island, then he meets Nina (Caren Kaye).  She’s beautiful and Larry’s happy.  Then he meets Dina, who is Nina’s twin sister and, because of the whole twin thing, she’s beautiful and Larry is happy.  EXCEPT …. it turns out that there’s only one woman and her fantasy was to pretend to be a twin for the weekend.  Wait …. what?  I mean, it works out.  Dina and Larry fall in love and they leave together but it seems like Larry didn’t really get his fantasy and, at the very least, he deserves a partial refund.  

In the second fantasy, comedian Rich Little plays Herb Costigan, a paralegal who wants to be the world’s greatest lawyer.  Mr. Roarke sets him up with a house on the “other side of the island,” which Roarke explains is populated by rich people who apparently have vacation homes on Fantasy Island.  Roarke has told everyone that Costigan is a world-famous attorney.  However, when a murder occurs, Costigan is framed for the crime and soon, he’s defending himself in court!  Eventually, it turns out that there was no murder and the supposed victim just faked his death and is now wandering around the Island with a fake beard glued to his face.  It really doesn’t make any sense but this fantasy does establish that the island is, at the very least, a territory of the United States as there’s a big American flag in the courtroom.

Neither one of these stories really worked for me, largely because neither Ken Berry nor Rich Little seemed to be particularly invested in their characters.  It also doesn’t help that Berry and Little shared a superficial physical resemblance, to the extent that it was often a struggle to keep straight who was having which fantasy.

In the end, Tattoo’ toothache was the highlight of this show.  Fortunately, it just turned out to be his wisdom teeth coming in.  Take that, Mr. Roarke!

Retro Television Reviews: Fantasy Island 1.10 “The Over-The-Hill-Gang/Poof, You’re A Movie Star!”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Tuesdays, I will be reviewing the original Fantasy Island, which ran on ABC from 1977 to 1986.  The entire show is currently streaming on Tubi!

Smiles, everyone!  Smiles!

Episode 1.10 “The Over-The-Hill-Gang/Poof, You’re A Movie Star!”

(Dir by Earl Bellamy, originally aired on April 15th, 1978)

Uh-oh, Tattoo has a new money-making scheme!  It involves a parrot.  While the exact details of Tattoo’s schemes are a bit vague, it all involves teaching the parrot how to speak.  Again, I’m not sure how exactly that’s going to make Tattoo a lot of money but whatever.  I like parrots.

Still, it’s hard not to notice that Tattoo seems to spend a lot of time trying to figure out ways to make extra money.  Tattoo is the second-in-command at the world’s most prestigious resort so you have to wonder why he always seems to be so desperate to bring in some extra cash.  It’s not like Tattoo is paying rent or even buying his own food.  That’s all provided by Mr. Roarke and the island.  Add to that, it has been implied that Tattoo is in charge of the island’s finances and that’s not a job that you give to someone who can’t handle his own money.  Maybe Tattoo isn’t looking to make money for himself.  Maybe Fantasy Island is on the verge of bankruptcy due to Roarke’s habit of giving people free fantasies.  Maybe the talking parrot is Tattoo’s latest scheme to save the Island.  If that’s the case, then Tattoo really is the secret hero of this series.

I actually wish this episode has spent more time with the parrot because that little throw-away story was still more interesting than the two main stories.  Don’t get me wrong.  This isn’t a bad episode.  It’s just a bit bland.

Shirley Russell (Barbi Benton) comes to the Island with dreams of becoming a movie star.  Mr. Roarke simply snaps his fingers and suddenly, Shirley has not only an agent but also hundreds of fans following her everywhere that she goes.  She also has a role in a big movie that will be filming on the Island!  When the film’s producer (played by a veteran sleazy guy Herb Edelman) tells Shirley that she’ll have to film a nude scene for the movie, Shirley abandons her fantasy and happily reunites with her earnest fiancé.  Barbi Benton was likable as Shirley but the fantasy itself was predictable and on the blah side.  Shirley’s shock over the proposed nude scene made me wonder if she had actually watched any movies other than The Sound of Music.

The other fantasy dealt with Spencer Randolph (Ray Bolger), an aging bank robber who wanted to pull off one last job with his old gang before marrying a wealthy businesswoman.  Bolger’s old gang was made up of familiar Hollywood character actors like Tom Ewell, Foster Brooks, and Phil Foster.  Along with getting the old gang back together again, Spencer was also able to foil a blackmail scheme.  Again, the storyline was a bit bland but the chemistry between all of the Hollywood veterans was enjoyable.  Ray Bolger was just as spry and likable here as he was when he played the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz.  Interestingly enough, 39 years passed between The Wizard of Oz and this episode of Fantasy Island and Bolger was still younger than Joe Biden is today when he played Spencer Randolph, the leader of the over-the-hill gang.

Retro Television Reviews: Fantasy Island 1.8 “Superstar/Salem”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Tuesdays, I will be reviewing the original Fantasy Island, which ran on ABC from 1977 to 1986.  The entire show is currently streaming on Tubi!

Despite being exhausted last night, I still made sure to watch the next episode of Fantasy Island before allowing myself to fall asleep.  It’s all about priorities.

Episode 1.8 “Superstar/Salem”

(Dir by Earl Bellamy, originally aired on March 25th, 1978)

After a conversation with Tattoo about Tattoo’s sudden interest in photography, Mr. Roarke heads to the docks to meet this week’s guest stars!

First up, we have Richard Delaney (Gary Burghoff) and his wife, Dora (Darleen Carr).  Dora thinks they are on a business trip but actually, Richard has a fantasy.  Despite the fact that he is short, middle-aged, and not at all athletic, Richard’s fantasy is to not only pitch in a baseball game but to also strike out the best baseball players around.

(As a side note, as soon as I saw that this was going to be a baseball episode, I woke up Erin and made her watch it with me.  Of course, it was also one in the morning at the time but still, I would have been a bad sister if I hadn’t.)

Anyway, Richard gets his chance.  It turns out that Fantasy Island is holding a charity baseball game and Mr. Roarke has told everyone that Richard is the best amateur pitcher in the world.  With the help of some Fantasy Island magic, Richard is able to strike out every batter who comes up to the plate.  (According to Erin, all of the batters were real baseball players.)  We know that Richard’s skills are due to magic because, whenever he throws the ball, we hear goofy sound effects.  (“This is dumb,” Erin said, “Why did you wake me up for this?”)  Richard is offered a try-out with the Dodgers.  Yay!

Richard immediately get a little bit full of himself but it turns out that Richard’s fantasy didn’t include becoming a professional baseball player and he loses his ability to pitch.  Unfortunately, Richard doesn’t discover this until after he tells off his boss.  Fortunately, his boss is impressed by Richard’s honesty and he gives Richard a raise.  Richard may never play pro ball but at least he’ll make a lot of money as an accountant or whatever it is that he does for a living.  Yay!  (“Is it over?” Erin asked, “Can I finally get some sleep now?”)

Meanwhile, Martha and Walter Tate (played by Vera Miles and Stuart Whitman) think that the world has become too permissive of bad behavior so they want to go some place where people are better behaved.  Mr. Roarke promptly sends them to 17th century Salem, where they are both accused of being witches and narrowly avoid being executed.  You know, Mr. Roarke, you could have just sent them to a friendly rural community in Nebraska or something.  NOT EVERYTHING HAS TO BE A LESSON!

The best thing about the Salem storyline was that the evil and feared Dr. Whitfield, the man who ruled Salem with a iron fist, was played by Leslie Nielsen.  When we first meet Dr. Whitfield, he’s explaining how the town drunk came to die.

Dr. Whitfield wanted to hang both Martha and Walter for the sins of dancing and giving aspirin to a child.

Leslie Nielsen may be playing a villain but he delivers his lines in the same style that later made him a comedic icon.  If nothing else, that makes this episode fun to watch.

Martha and Walter end up fleeing Salem and, miraculously, they find themselves back on Fantasy Island.  Mr. Roarke says that he hopes they have had an enlightening fantasy.  Personally, if I was Mr. Roarke, I would be more worried about the lawsuit that they’re probably going to file against him.

This was a pretty silly episode but, as a general rule, I enjoy anything that features Leslie Nielsen playing a humorless villain.  Add to that, it was hard not to smile at the sight of Mr. Roarke and Tattoo casually emerging from the jungle in their white suits to greet Walter and Martha after the latter two escaped Salem.  It may have been a silly episode but it was also a fun one.  And really, what else does one expect from Fantasy Island?

Incident at Phantom Hill (1966, directed by Earl Bellamy)

During the final weeks of the Civil War, a group of Confederates, led by Joe Barlow (Dan Duryea,) hijacked a shipment of Union gold and buried it near Phantom Hill, Texas. Now that the war is over and Barlow is in custody, he makes an offer. He’ll lead the government to the gold in return for a pardon. Needing the money, the government agrees to Barlow’s conditions. A group of Cavalrymen, led by Matt Martin (Robert Fuller), are ordered to accompany Barlow to Phantom Hill and retrieve the gold. Because the gold itself is buried near Comanche territory, the men will be traveling undercover. If Martin and his men are captured or killed, the U.S. government will disavow any knowledge of the them. Cue the Mission Impossible theme.

It’s an eventful journey to Phantom Hill. When a local sheriff recognizes Barlow as a wanted criminal, Martin has to convince him not to kill Barlow. The sheriff agrees, on the condition that Martin and his men escort a prostitute named Memphis (Jocelyn Lane) out of town. When a group of outlaws discover that Martin and Barlow are heading for the gold, they take off after them. Meanwhile, Barlow has a few plans of his own.

Incident at Phantom Hill is a fast-moving B-western, the type that will be appreciated by fans of the genre. There are a few good shootouts. Jocelyn Lane is beautiful as Memphis, Robert Fuller is firm at Matt Martin, and Dan Duryea is dangerous as Joe Barlow. The outlaws are unusually cruel and the scene where the kill a comic relief character was probably shocking for 1966. The most interesting thing about the movie is its portrayal of Union officers working with former Confederates and the struggle to determine where everyone fits in now that the Civil War is over. Barlow is not to be trusted by the relationship between Memphis and Matt suggests that the country can come back together as long as everyone has a common enemy that needs to be defeated.


Speedtrap (1977, directed by Earl Bellamy)

In a southwestern metropolis, a mysterious criminal is stealing cars and outrunning the police.  When the insurance company realizes that the cops are never going to be able to do their job, they decide to bring in an outside hire to solve the crimes.  They turn to a paisley-shirt wearing private investigator named Pete Novick (played by Joe Don Baker).  Novick’s a hard-drinking, hard-living P.I. who is going to solve the case no matter what.  Authority figures like police Captain Hogan (Morgan Woodward) hate him.  Women like cop Niffty Nolan (Tyne Daly) and psychic New Blossom (Lana Wood) want to have him.  Men like mechanic Billy (Richard Jaeckel) want to hang out with him.  You get the idea.  It’s a Joe Don Baker movie.

Speedtrap is basically one car chase after another, the majority of which are excitingly filmed and continue until almost every car involved has been destroyed.  Though the movie was directed by Earl Bellamy, it has the feel of a Hal Needham film as it keeps the characterization to a minimum and instead focuses on vehicular mayhem.  Speaking of Hal Needham, it’s also easy to imagine Burt Reynolds, in his B-movie days, playing the role of Pete Novick but not even he would have been as perfect for the role or the movie as Joe Don Baker.  Baker shambles through the movie, all the while keeping the same passive-aggressive grin on his face.  There’s nothing smooth about Joe Don Baker, which is why he was fun to watch in a movie like this.  Whether he’s having a one-night stand with a psychic (only in order to help for “totally relax” so that she can have her visions) or going out of his way to annoy almost every single person that he meets, he’s undeniably Joe Don Baker.  During one chase scene, an annoyed Novick snaps, “Beep beep my ass!”  Only Joe Don Baker could have pulled that off.

Eventually, the thief steals the wrong car.  This one has a suitcase in back that’s full of the mob’s money.  This gives Robert Loggia a chance to ham it up as a mafia don who wants Novick to capture the thief and then turn him over to the syndicate.  Novick, however, has even less respect for the mob than he does for the police.  The mafia subplot is a distraction but Timothy Carey plays Loggia’s main henchman and brings with him a few moments of genuine menace to the film.

Speedtrap has never gotten a DVD or Blu-ray release but it’s an entertaining B-movie and it deserves one.  How about it, Shout Factory?  A million Joe Don Baker fans are looking to you.

Embracing the Melodrama Part II #51: Walking Tall Part 2 (dir by Earl Bellamy)

Film_Poster_for_Walking_Tall_Part_2The 1975 southern melodrama Walking Tall Part 2 opens with a voice over telling us that we’re about to see more of the true of story Sheriff Buford Pusser, the Tennessee lawman who carried a big stick, battled the Dixie Mafia, and whose wife was killed in an ambush.  Pusser, we learn, died under suspicious circumstances shortly after the release of the film Walking Tall.

Mere hours before he died, Pusser had signed a contract to play himself in Walking Tall Part 2.  As a result of Pusser’s car “accident,” the film’s producers were forced to cast an actor as the lawman.  Now, it would have made sense to, once again, give the role to Joe Don Baker.  After all, he played the role in Walking Tall and I imagine that to most audiences at that time, he was Buford Pusser.  However, for whatever reason, Baker was not given the role for a second time.  Instead, the role was given to Bo Svenson and, while Svenson does not necessarily do a bad job in the role, he’s still no Joe Don Baker.  The difference between Baker and Svenson is the difference between someone being a redneck and someone just pretending.

The film opens almost immediately where Walking Tall ended.  Terribly wounded in the ambush that took his wife’s life, Buford is in the hospital and his face is covered in bandages.  Townspeople gather outside both his room and his farm and they wonder whether he’ll run for reelection as sheriff.  Someone else mentions that Buford has had massive facial reconstructive surgery.

Finally, the bandages are removed and we discover that Buford has turned into Bo Svenson.  Now, Svenson and Baker do have enough facial similarities that you can force yourself to believe that surgery could lead to Baker having Svenson’s features.  I mean, this isn’t like Mark Ruffalo taking over the role of Bruce Banner from Edward Norton.  At the same time, it’s hard not to wonder how reconstructive surgery could have led to Buford Pusser becoming a blonde or, for that matter, apparently growing by 5 inches between Walking Tall and Walking Tall Part 2.

Anyway, Buford’s out of the hospital and, of course, he’s reelected as sheriff.  One thing that quickly becomes apparent is that everyone in the world totally loves Buford Pusser.  I lost track of how many characters specifically walked up to Buford to tell him that he was a great man and a great sheriff.  Nobody complains about Buford’s habit of ignoring civil liberties while enforcing the law.  Instead, everyone cheers for him.

(And, just in case the viewer is uncomfortable with the sight of the very white Buford taunting the mostly black moonshiners that he spends the film arresting, Buford’s black deputy constantly says stuff like, “Buford, you’re my kind of sheriff!”)

The only people who don’t like Buford are the local crime lords.  They still want Buford dead so they hire a race car driver (Richard Jaeckel) to kill him.  The race car driver’s girlfriend (Angel Tompkins) attempts to hit on Buford but Buford has no interest in her.  Buford’s about enforcing the law and avenging his wife…

Walking Tall Part 2 is a pretty standard film.  Whereas the original Walking Tall had a raw and unpredictable vibe to it, the sequel is predictable and boring.  On the plus side, the film was made on location in rural Tennesee and some of the countryside is nice to look at.

As for Buford Pusser, he died before Part Two was released but the character would return in Walking Tall — The Final Chapter.