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Gunsmoke: The Last Apache (1990)

PG-13 | | Western | TV Movie 18 March 1990
James Arness rides again as Matt Dillon, the U.S. Marshal he made popular in the 1955-75 television series. In this movie he goes after a renegade Apache named Wolf (Joe Lara) who has taken... See full summary »


Charles Correll


Earl W. Wallace

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Cast overview, first billed only:
James Arness ... Matt Dillon
Richard Kiley ... Chalk Brighton
Amy Stoch ... Beth Yardner (as Amy Stock-Poynton)
Geoffrey Lewis ... Bodine
Joe Lara Joe Lara ... Wolf
Sam Vlahos ... Tomas
Hugh O'Brian ... Gen. Nelson Miles
Michael Learned ... Mike Yardner
Peter Murnik ... Lt. Davis
Robert Covarrubias ... Bartender
Ned Bellamy ... Capt. Harris
Dave Florek Dave Florek ... Smiley
Joaquín Martínez ... Geronimo (as Joaquin Martinez)
Kevin Sifuentes ... Nachite
Robert Brian Wilson ... Corporal


James Arness rides again as Matt Dillon, the U.S. Marshal he made popular in the 1955-75 television series. In this movie he goes after a renegade Apache named Wolf (Joe Lara) who has taken his daughter captive. As a bargaining chip, Dillon helps two sons of Apache chief Geronimo out of the fort stockade and offers them in trade. Dillon is aided by an Army scout, Chalk Brighton (Richard Kiley). Written by John Sacksteder <jsackste@bellsouth.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Matt Dillon rides again!



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for violence | See all certifications »






Release Date:

18 March 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der letzte Apache See more »

Filming Locations:

Del Rio, Texas, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


James Arness and Michael Learned reprised their roles from the original series. See more »


Followed by Gunsmoke: One Man's Justice (1994) See more »

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User Reviews

Perhaps the best of the three-movie series
11 August 2018 | by kenstallings-65346See all my reviews

In my view, this is the best of the three movie series that put the cap on the Gunsmoke franchise. The plot is well written and nuanced. As with many Gunsmoke series episodes, the affairs of the US government and the Indian nations are put forward as a core element of the narrative, and this movie perhaps went the deepest into that narrative.

Invoking the Apache surrender on 4 September 1886, the movie shows the forced resettlement of many Apache from western reservations to Florida. It also, at the end relates the treaty violation in incarcerating treaty signatory Geronimo, and his male warriors, at Fort Pickens, Florida, on the extreme outer banks chain forming the entrance to Pensacola Bay. This stockade was dilapidated at the time, and was an extremely cruel location for Apache, given the extreme heat and humidity, which none of them were acclimated to.

As the movie's end credits show, the treaty formally provided for the Apache men to be immediately reunited with their family already moved to Florida. This illegal incarceration lasted several months, after which the Apache were finally relocated a final time in what is today Western Oklahoma.

A stark difference in this movie is the clean break from any of the ensemble cast of the Gunsmoke TV series. It was the first effort produced after Amanda Blake's death one year prior. The only connection to the TV series was the character of "Mike Yardner," who, as with actor Michael Learned, was given a misleading male name, when, in fact, the character -- and actress -- was decidedly female.

Woven throughout the narrative is the traditional expose of courage and integrity amid strife. However, the way this episode plays out offers unique perspectives, plus a love interest that some consider controversial, but most considered fine drama.

Joe Lara turned in an especially strong performance as the true "Last Apache;" the warrior who refused to surrender, and who rode into the night without anyone knowing his ultimate fate. The cinematography that formed the final scene between Dillon and Lara's character, Wolf, was beautifully crafted, and was quite obviously filmed in actual weather conditions. That scene by itself put this movie well above standard made-for-TV movie fare.

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