Story: Sheriff Buford Pusser (Brian Dennehy) has faced down countless criminals and corrupt officials, so whenever crime rears its head in his county, he won’t hesitate to take action. He also has no issues with bending or ignoring the regulations of law enforcement, which means violence is common and Pusser never backs down. The latest criminal endeavor not only has a moonshine operation up and running, but one that produces some undesired side effects. When some of the local teens drink down the moonshine, they wind up sick and even blinded, making it clear the drinks are unsafe. But as long as the cash keeps rolling in, the bootleggers have no intention of closing up shop, which means Pusser is about to start his own counterattack…

Entertainment Value: This made for television movie brought Sheriff Buford Pusser back into action and this time, Brian Dennehy picks up the mantle. A new lead as the lawman, but otherwise A Real American Hero has all the expected Pusser elements and while this is a lower budget production, it fits in well with the Walking Tall series and other projects about the real life lawman. And if you thought he was a stickler for the law before or would go to insane lengths before, wait until you see how wild Buford gets in this follow up. He literally begins to enforce every single law, no matter how minor or out of date, to create chaos and protect his liabilities as he chases down the moonshine runners. In other words, moving to the small screen hasn’t slowed down Buford’s reign of violence, though this isn’t as graphic or over the top with the violence, of course. There is also some real hicksploitation vibes in A Real American Hero, which I loved and I think it adds a lot of entertainment value. The movie does little to make Buford sympathetic this time around, so he basically just mistreats a lot of people in the name of justice, though I suppose that’s always been his method. If you like vigilante justice cinema or the Buford Pusser legacy, this is worth a spin.

Joe Don Baker was a force of nature in this role and Bo Svenson was a lot of fun to watch as Buford, but Brian Dennehy was a good pick to take up the part here. He has the physical look the role needs, since he is a large and lumbering man, but he doesn’t show the same sadistic, relentless presence of the previous Buford actors. Even so, he is effective in the role, if a little toned down for television. I enjoyed seeing him stomp around and go nuts as the extremist lawman, as he seems to run with the Buford vibe and as we’ve seen before, Dennehy is good in these kind of roles. He can bark the orders and is a believable bully, which are crucial elements to bring Buford to life. So not the best version of the famous sheriff perhaps, but a more than capable one. The cast also includes Ken Howard, Sheree North, Forrest Tucker, and Brian Kerwin.

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