The Apple Dumpling Gang

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Rating: G

Starring:
Tim Conway as Gangster Amos Tucker
Don Knotts as Gangster Theodore Ogelvie
Harry Morgan as Sherriff Homer McCoy
John McGiver as Banker Leonard Sharpe
Bill Bixby as Mr. Russel Donovan
Don Knight as John Wintle
Susan Clark as Magnolia ‘Dusty’ Clydesdale
David Wayne as Colonel T.R. Clydesdale
Stacy Manning as Celia Bradley
Clay O’Brien as Bobby Bradley
Brad Savage as Clovis Bradley
Slim Pickens as Frank Stillwell
Dennis Fimple as Rudy Hooks
Pepe Callahan as Clemons
Iris Adrian as Poker Polly

Special Features:

Commentary by Susan Clark, Tim Conway, Don Knotts, and Brad Savage

“A Look Back With The Gang”

Conversations With Tim Conway

“Disney’s Rootin’ Tootin’ Cowboy Heroes” – Old cartoons beginning with The Cactus Kid, 1930

Classic Disney Cartoon – Two Gun Goofy

Lost Treasures: “The Disney Back Lot”

1975 Disney Studio Album

Gallery – Production Stills, Biographies, Advertising Archives

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.75:1) – Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions
Dolby 5.1 Digital Surround Sound
THX Certified
Running Time: 100 Minutes

Synopsis:
As a roving gambler, Russel Donovan had a pretty good life. The only thing he had to worry about were incompetent thieves like Amos and Theodore trying to rob him. However, everything changes when he is conned into taking custody of three young orphans – Celia, Bobby, and Clovis. Donovan is desperate to get rid of the kids, but nobody will take them. No longer a carefree bachelor, he reluctantly takes responsibility for the kids. Eventually, though, he begins to like the idea of being a dad.

The children also happen to own rights to a nearby abandoned gold mine. When an earthquake reveals a massive gold nugget in the mine, Donovan and the kids find themselves rich beyond their wildest dreams. Unfortunately, that is the real beginning of their problems. Now everyone in the town wants to adopt the kids and they challenge Donovan in court for their custody. Amos and Theodore also make several unsuccessful attempts to steal the nugget.

Seeing the nugget as the source of their problems, the children conspire with Amos and Theodore to help them steal the nugget, thus the Apple Dumpling Gang is formed. Maybe with the gold nugget out of the picture the kids can stay with Donovan. But what will the makeshift gang do when a real gang of thieves comes to town to steal the gold?

The Apple Dumpling Gang is rated G.

The Movie:
Getting “The Apple Dumpling Gang” on DVD was quite a nostalgic treat. I remember seeing it a lot as a kid and thoroughly enjoying it. Now, watching it again as an adult with my kids, it’s still a fun movie. Amazingly, the humor in it still stands up over time.

Don Knotts and Tim Conway, of course, are the highlights of the film. These two comedy legends are in top form together and they provide most of the laughs. Most of their humor is physical comedy including stunts with a ladder, a mule, and even fire. Knotts’ looks of surprise or rage are hilarious and Conway’s moronic character is the perfect contrast to his partner. It’s worth checking out the film again just for their performances.

The rest of the cast is also wonderful. It’s great to see Bill Bixby again not Hulking out. It’s kind of funny, but young Bixby reminds me a lot of Hugh Jackman. Anyway, he’s supported by Harry Morgan, Slim Pickens, and some other character actors who you’ll recognize. The children are also excellent as angels with crooked halos. The little girl (with the bladder problem) is the main one to steal the show, though.

Overall, seeing this movie was a wonderful treat and a welcome addition to my kid’s DVD collection. Watch out for the theme song sticking in your head, though.

The Extras:
Disney continues to do a fantastic job of rolling out their old movies in a great new package. The film is supplemented with a great selection of extras that enhance the movie viewing experience:

Commentary by Susan Clark, Tim Conway, Don Knotts, and Brad Savage – The commentary sounds like it was recorded in two separate sessions – one with Knotts and Conway, the other with Savage (one of the grown up kids) and Clark. Of course, Conway and Kotts’ commentary is the most fun. Conway provides most of the funny comments as they watch their work in the movie. Their stuff is really the highlight of the commentary. Clark’s commentary is more analytical about the plot and themes, though she does get into detail about filming. Savage’s commentary isn’t quite as polished. He’ll frequently ask a question which Clark just gave the answer to moments before. All in all, though, it’s an interesting extra worth listening to.

“A Look Back With The Gang” – This is a great look at the making of the film with the surviving cast. It’s pretty fun to see the children all grown up. Don Knotts and Tim Conway also sit together for the interview. They have great stories from the set and talk about all the fun they had filming the movie.

Conversations With Tim Conway – This is a 10-minute video where Tim Conway talks about his life and his experiences making Disney movies. His stories about working with animals on the films are hilarious. It really made me realize how much fun it would be to see him in some new features. This is the most entertaining extra on the DVD.

“Disney’s Rootin’ Tootin’ Cowboy Heroes” – This is just a montage of cowboy clips from Disney’s cartoons and live action features. The theme from the Apple Dumpling Gang plays as they are shown.

Classic Disney Cartoon – Two Gun Goofy – This old Goofy cartoon is added as an extra. It’s not really related to the Apple Dumpling Gang, but it’s fun to watch.

Lost Treasures: “The Disney Back Lot” – This is a short documentary on the history of the Disney backlot. They talk about how the sets were changed over the years and how they were re-dressed multiple times for various features. Sadly, most of the sets are gone now and paved over with parking lots or office buildings, but it’s interesting to see how they used all the same buildings as different exotic locations to great effect.

The Bottom Line:
The Apple Dumpling Gang is great fun and a perfect addition to your children’s collection. It’s fun for both kids and adults to watch. Disney aficionados should also be well pleased with the DVD presentation.

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