Dillon's Going North by Northwest
Whilst at his daughter's wedding retired lawman Matt Dillon (James Arness) is approached by two men claiming they have papers for his arrest in connection to a murder. After going with them Dillon soon realises they have no plans to take him in and so he has to act before he ends up with a bullet in his face. It seems that someone Dillon sold a horse to and who looks a little like him killed a man and now a mob wants Dillon dead believing he did it forcing the former lawman to go on the run whilst trying to clear his name. Fortunately Dillon finds help in a down and out preacher, John Parsley (James Brolin), and a retired prostitute, Uncle Jane (Ali MacGraw).
Fans of Marshal Matt Dillon will probably get some real enjoyment out of "Gunsmoke: The Long Ride" as it is a well made TV movie with James Arness on fine form as the now retired marshal whilst there are some nice supporting cameos with James Brolin stealing many a scene as the down out preacher with a slightly dodgy side to him. But like with any movie which has arisen out of a once popular TV show after it had finished this will appeal more to those who were fans than those who just stumble across it looking to be entertained.
The reason being is that "Gunsmoke: The Long Ride" beyond the entertaining supporting performances is just a typical western where we have a man having to stay ahead of a posse to try and clear his name over a killing he had nothing to do with. It has nothing new going on when it comes to this and the whole subplot surrounding a down and out preacher and a retired prostitute is as cliche as it comes even if it is sweet. But basically there is nothing here which you won't have come across in at least a half dozen other westerns and it is why fans of "Gunsmoke" will enjoy it more than others.
What this all boils down to is that "Gunsmoke: The Long Ride" is no matter what an entertaining made for TV western with good characters and good drama. But because of the familiarity of the basic storyline and subplots its greatest appeal will be to those who grew up watching marshal Matt Dillon and will enjoy catching up with him on another adventure.