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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Apple Dumpling Gang

*** The Apple Dumpling Gang. Comedy.

Directed by: Norman Tokar.
Starring: Tim Conway, Don Knotts, Bill Bixby, Harry Morgan, Susan Clark

We rented this one from Netflix.

Bill Bixby plays Russel Donovan, a gambler who ends up with custody of three children. While he's trying to find someone else to take care of them, the kids, in addition to causing havoc in the town, explore their late father's mine and find a giant gold nugget.

Tim Conway and Don Knotts are inept crooks who try to steal the gold. There are less inept crooks, led by Slim Pickens, who are also after it.

Harry Morgan is the town's mayor, sheriff, barber, and judge, and it's up to him to decide who gets to keep the kids.

Along the way, there's a romance between Donovan and stagecoach driver Dusty (Susan Clark).

Conway and Knotts are hilarious whenever they're onscreen, which is far too seldom. The romance is sweet and a little quirky--Donovan and Dusty are both out of their element: Donovan ends up putting his foot in his mouth more than once, and Dusty's the tomboy who's unused to romantic attention, which doesn't mean she doesn't want it. The kids are annoying, but I've seen worse.

I suspect that I was remembering the sequel, which was a bit more action-packed, or a combination of the two, from my childhood. At any rate, it wasn't quite what I'd expected. The movie took forever to really start--you could easily skip the first third of the movie and not miss anything. In fact, it's really only the last third that's worth watching--the rest is just set-up.

The "Apple Dumpling Gang" itself only came into play near the end, when the kids join Conway and Knotts to steal the gold themselves to keep it away from the real crooks.

It's a cute movie, but I think I liked it much better when I was a kid.

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