The Apple Dumpling Gang is a film that I did not get a chance to see until Disney Movie Club started offering a club-exclusive Blu-ray. The exclusives are just one thing I’ve found about the Club that I enjoy. The other one would be, while like old school movie clubs there is a minimum commitment to reach in terms of purchases over two years (along with the introductory bundle for a low, low price). However, the good thing is that count doesn’t reset and when you hit your minimum you are upgraded to VIP status and are afforded deals in terms of pricing and shipping.
As for the film itself it plays with a few fairly common tropes; one being orphaned children and the other being bumbling crooks (expertly played by Tim Conway and Don Knotts). The film is based on a book by Jack Bickham, and the major wrinkles it adds to those tropes is the backdrop of the wild west, the more informal nature of relinquishing parental rights and then the involvement of a more able group of robbers. The clashing bank robbers also reminds one a bit of Take the Money and Run.
Another commonality is the fact that in this story it’s the children who find the truth of a situation where adults had given up and told them they were silly. Specifically, this is regards to gold mine that was purportedly a bust. The kids find a treasure and their doing so leads many adults to suddenly take an “interest in their welfare.”
Not entirely dissimilar from Bedknobs and Broomsticks here you have adults that are not necessarily altruistic, but the lead Russel (Bill Bixby) does change and come to genuinely care for the kids. Meanwhile, Dusty (Susan Clark) does come to care for Bill even though she ends up with him only for the kids’ well being at first.
The Apple Dumpling Gang is a humorous enjoyable tale that looks brilliant in this Blu-ray upgrade. If you are a member of the Club and a fan of the film it is definitely recommended for the picture alone even though it offers no extras.