Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The Apple Dumpling Gang

The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975)
Dir. Norman Tokar
Staring Bill Bixby, Susan George,  Don Knotts, Tim Conway, Slim Pickens, Harry Morgan

After a gambler gets tricked into taking custody of some orphaned children,  shenanigans occur after they discover a large piece of gold.

In honor of the launch of Disney+ this week, I thought I'd look at something produced by the Mouse House. Of course with years of movies in the catalog, while not really know for pumping out lots of westerns over the years, they did release some, including a couple of 1970s films staring Don Knotts. This film was the first time that Knotts teamed up with Tim Conway, and they ended up making several other movies together. And really the fulm is at it's best when it forgets about the kids and focuses on Don Knotts and Tim Conway. The scene where they have to quietly steal the ladder from the firehouse is a great bit of physical comedy, and the following scene where they attempt to gain access to the bank is enjoyable too. It's really no surprise that they were the only ones carried over for the sequel.*

The story involves a gambler (Bixby) that gets asked to picking up a delivery, which ends up being 3 orphans. They inherited a mine that's worthless, and end up finding a large gold nugget. This draws the attention of the 2 local inept criminals (Knotts and Conway), and later a real group of bandits lead by Slim Pickens. Also there's some stuff with Bixby and Susan George's character dealing with the kids and a marriage to give them a proper home. Really it's kind of slow during the first half. The latter half is pretty good, with the gunfight at the bank and the chase that follows being pretty entertaining.

Overall it's alright for what it is. It's not great but it's a great first Western for a kid, which was probably the intention Disney had for the film when it was released. But if you're not a child or don't have a lot of nostalgia for it, I'd pass.

*Well Harry Morgan too, but as a different character.

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