Dillon and the Learned One
After dealing with a couple of thieves at an outpost Matt Dillon (James Arness) picks up a letter from long time friend Mike Yardner (Michael Learned) who wants him to drop in to the Yardner ranch as she has something to tell him. But when Matt arrives the ranch has just come under attack from some Indians led by renegade Wolf (Joe Lara) who has taken Mike's daughter Beth (Amy Stoch) who Matt discovers is in fact his daughter. To get his daughter back Dillon heads to Madera and the military HQ where he clashes with Gen. Nelson Miles (Hugh O'Brian) and sets about helping two sons of Geronimo to get free so that he can use them as a trade for his daughter.
Having never watched an episode of "Gunsmoke" in my life I wasn't overly impressed with "Gunsmoke: Return to Dodge" and thought twice about watching another one of these movie spin-offs. Fortunately "Gunsmoke: The Last Apache" is a lot more like the sort of western I like with James Arness looking like an old cowboy rather than a mountain man which is how he came across in that first movie. And the storyline as we see Dillon trying to rescue a young woman from an Indian having learned she is his daughter is also much more typical of the western genre and easy enough to follow as Dillon locks horns with Gen. Nelson Miles and helps a couple of young Indians to escape. That is not all there is to this TV movie but each thread nicely works together and doesn't make things overly complicated.
What "Gunsmoke: The Last Apache" has going for it especially for those who didn't grow up watching the old series is several familiar faces. Alongside Arness there is western veteran Hugh O'Brian as well as Geoffrey Lewis which for others there is Michael learned who will always be Olivia Walton to many. And for those wanting younger stars you have the beautiful Amy Stoch and the handsome Joe Lara all of who play their parts well. On the subjects of looks there are also countless beautiful scenic shots which are pretty spectacular for a TV movie.
What this all boils down to is that after watching "Gunsmoke: The Last Apache" I can begin to appreciate why many hold the old TV series in such high esteem and this is certainly a whole lot better than "Gunsmoke: Return to Dodge" with a much more traditional look and storyline.