The pros: one thing that often happens with remakes is, the cast overdoes it. They try to adapt themselves to the original performances. Big mistake. Like Jeff Daniels does with the remake of True Grit. He tried to BE John Wayne. He is NOT John Wayne, just a poor copy. In this movie, Bruce Boxleitner played Garth as Bruce Boxleitner, not as Montgomery Clift. The others, the same way. That made the story more believable. I thought that he was VERY good in this part. He doesn't have quite the "angst" that Clift played this role with, but a good effort. Ray Walston does good in his role. Nobody can do Walter Brennan, so don't try. He gives a solid performance. There are a couple of times when they left the old script (I'll talk about that in the "cons"), but they stayed pretty much with the same story line.
The cons: James Arness as Dunson?? BIG mistake! I would have thought of several actors that could have done it better than him. Sam Elliot comes to my mind, he could have done it well, don't know if he was available, but they could have done much better if someone like him could have done it. James Arness had too much "Marshall Dillon" in him. Plus, at the end, he just leaves the part all together and ends up being a bad copy of the Duke. Again, it may not be fair, but when it shows him "wading" through the cattle for the "big showdown", he just does not carry himself as Duke did in the original.
Gregory Harrison as Cherry?? OMG, he was just horrible!! I know, part of the problem was they cast him against his type, and the character just went off the rails over the woman. John Irelands Cherry was a MAN, pure and simple. Harrison portrays him as a spoiled, womanizing brat.
Plot lines: This movie really went off the deep end when they had Cherry go crazy over the woman. Him goading Matt into a gunfight just was ridiculous. He wouldn't have done that, he was a flawed character, but he was still loyal. Plus, him doing what he did, cheated the audience out of one of the great scenes in the original, where Cherry tries to intervene at the showdown between Garth and Dunson and Dunson shot him. That showed how close Cherry and Matt had grown to each other. Big missing part!
The finding of Abilene: it shows Matt and his two scouts looking for Abilene. They are sitting up on a rise and wondering if they will ever find Abilene and wondering if the railroad was there. Then, they hear a locomotive whistle and it come in view, no matter that the tracks are only a few hundred feet away! They could have seen it for a long time! Then, the scene that is missing from the original is when Matt talks to the locomotive engineer and he is so happy. That scene is not there!! A lot is left off from Abilene as well. The scene with the cattle buyer is just so short, but, in the original, you can see how amazed the buyer is and how inexperienced Matt is. This guy could have taken Matt for a big score, but he doesn't do that and gives him a good price. Shows the difference between men of the last century and today. At least how Hollywood depicts it for the movie.
It seemed as if the producers were fixing to run out of film and they had to hurry to finish it.
The ending: YUCK!!! YUCK, YUCK, YUCK!! Does not work as good as the original. It left me very empty. Joanne Dru, in the climax was just so much better than Laura Johnson. A lot of emotion comes through. You can see that SHE KNOWS THEM BETTER THAN THEY KNOW THEMSELVES. And, the part where Dunson and Garth are lying there and "the lights come on" is missing as well. The climax of the movie is just so ...... 80's!! Did I say .... YUCK!!
I thought that, if this comes on again, I might watch it, it wasn't that bad. But, I would cue up the final part on my original DVD, from where they hear the locomotive whistle blowing till the end, and, when it got to that point on the TV movie, cut on my DVD and watch it to the end with Duke and Clift fighting and Tess firing the gun at them. That is a classic end to a great movie.