Gunsmoke: The Long Ride (TV Movie 1993) Poster

(1993 TV Movie)

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Good, but not great
Johnny_Hing19 July 2011
Warning: Spoilers
If this were just another Western, I'd probably give it a 6. But this was the fourth installment of the Gunsmoke movies; Matt Dillon at age 70, and James Arness' second to last screen credit ever. For those of us who grew up on Gunsmoke, that is sufficient reason to treasure this movie.

James Brolin and Ali McGraw were splendid as the Preacher (John Parsley) and "Uncle" Jane, and their chemistry together was quite good. McGraw was 54 when this movie was made, but looks a good 10 years younger and very attractive. Why the writers felt the need to kill off both characters well before the end seemed pointless to me. Matt tells Jane that if a posse comes through, to just tell the truth and let them pass. She does the exact opposite and gets gunned down. When Rev. Parsley takes a bullet during a gunfight, Matt tells him the wound isn't that serious, but Parsley dies anyway, a few moments later. Of course, tragedy, senseless as it may seem at times, has always been a consistent trademark theme throughout the Gunsmoke years, and if one looks closely, a silver lining may often be gleaned.

Dillon mostly uses a rifle instead of a gun in the shootout scenes, and his involvement in fist scuffles is now somewhat limited. Age has finally slowed him down somewhat, and he's no longer the quick draw he once was, although his legendary aim is still true.

In the previous three installments of the movie we were treated to former guest stars from the original Gunsmoke series. This time around, I'm not sure I recognized even a single name, except for that of Richard Dano, the son of the great character actor, Royal Dano. Amy Stock-Poynton returns as Beth, Matt's daughter, so at least there is some minimal continuity from the previous Gunsmoke movie.

As a die-hard fan of James Arness and Gunsmoke who can't quite seem to get enough, I found this movie entertaining, although not quite as good as the previous three. Probably a couple of more scenes with Brolin and McGraw, along with a rosier outcome, would have swayed me to give this a 10. As it stands, I give it an 8, and that is largely based on sentiment.
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