Dillon Enters a Feud
After burying the mother of his daughter Matt Dillon (James Arness) finds that trouble has found him whilst packing off his daughter Beth (Amy Stoch) to go back to school, not that she wants to leave him. That trouble comes in the form of Col. Tucker (Pat Hingle) and his men; Tommy (Joseph Bottoms), Rusty (Jason Lively) and Billy (Ed Adams) who kill a couple of cattle rancher friends of Matt's and stealing a head off his cattle. It leads the former Marshal to go after them and ending up riding in to the middle of a range war between two feuding families in Pleasant Valley, Arizona.
Were you a fan of Marshal Matt Dillon growing up? Did you religiously tune in to every episode of "Gunsmoke" and then watched the reruns as well? Chances are if you did you would enjoy these TV movie spin-offs which came in the late 80s and 90s although the first one might be a little off putting. But for those who didn't grow up on the exploits of Marshal Matt Dillon these TV movies are little more than an entertaining slice of made for TV western action which connect nicely to provide some character continuation.
So that brings me to "Gunsmoke: To the Last Man" a simple movie which has 2 interweaving storylines going on. On one hand we have the retired Matt Dillon after the men who killed his friends and in doing so riding in to a range war in Pleasant Valley. And it is a solid but not overly remarkable storyline which sees Dillon hitting a few dusty towns and then ending up with this completely different problem to deal with. And the other storyline sees his daughter Beth jump off the train she is meant to be heading back to school on and then going looking for Matt as having lost her mother doesn't want to lose her father as well. These storylines are embellished nicely but truth be told are not anything special.
But as was often the case when it came to movies built around an old TV series it was just as much about the cast as the storyline. As such whilst James Arness slips back in with ease as Matt Dillon and Amy Stoch returns and does a nice job as his daughter Beth it is veterans Pat Hingle and Morgan Woodward who add plenty of character to the movie as does young Jason Lively.
What this all boils down to is that once again fans of James Arness as Matt Dillon will enjoy "Gunsmoke: To the Last Man" probably quite a bit where as those who watch purely because they enjoy westerns will find it an entertaining distraction but not anything overly special.