Only in the 70's could a beefy, drawling television character actor change gears and morph into not only an action hero, but even some measure of sex symbol to an audience bedazzled by an aging, Vegas Elvis and the good humored down home charm of Burt Reynolds and Kris Kristofferson...
After nearly a decade toiling away in bit parts on series from Honey West and Gunsmoke to the Mod Squad to Mission Impossible, Texan good ol' boy Joe Don Baker brought a likeably rootsy appeal to his roles, from the corn pone Death Wishisms of breakthrough hit Walking Tall to roles with kung fu specialist Robert Clouse (Golden Needles), as hard boiled, vaguely noiresque detectives (Mitchell, Speedtrap), in outright horror films (The Pack) and as crusty authority figures (To Kill a Cop, Power), sometimes even in comedies (Fletch, Joysticks, Leonard Part 6)!
Eventually landing a recurring role in both the Dalton and Brosnan runs of the James Bond franchise, he'd spend later years filling in for Carroll O' Connor on In The Heat of the Night and working artsy critical faves like Cape Fear and Reality Bites, even dropping in for a spot in the late 90's comedy smash Mars Attacks!
Remembered more these days for being sent up mercilessly in no less than two memorable episodes of MST3K, join us as we delve deep into the Deep South, braving those crawdads, polk salad, chitlins and greens for some tasty down home cinema, to talk the films of the inimitable Joe Don Baker, only here on Weird Scenes!
Week 53: Walk softly and carry a big stick - the films of Joe Don Baker