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The Apple Dumpling Gang is 1971 novel written by Jack Bickham. A film of the novel was later converted into a movie by Disney produced in 1975 and spawning a sequel film The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again which aired in 1979. The initial movie is noteworthy for being the most successful Disney film of the 1970s.

The story of the novel and movie follows a group of orphaned children during the California gold rush. They encounter a gambler who reluctantly helps them, as well as a pair of hapless robbers who are after the gold the children have found. Dusty the female stagecoach driver is persuaded to marry the gambler who is currently taking care of them in an attempt to keep the children off the streets and away from those who would take thier gold from them. Meanwhile Amos and Theodore's former boss also tries to steal the gold and ends up kidnapping the children.

Conway and Knotts play the leads in the sequel, in which Bixby and the rest of the original cast don't appear.

Tropes associated with the movie:

  • Adult Child: Amos and Theodore generally act like this.
  • Affectionate Parody: Towards Westerns.
  • Bandito: A source of some Unfortunate Implications given this being the characterization of the only Hispanic among an otherwise completely white cast.
  • Bank Robbery: Ironicly, Amos and Theodore, the men who tried to rob the bank first, become bystanders to the successful heist.
  • Children Are Innocent
  • Con Men Hate Guns: When Mr. Donovan is forced to fight, he prefers to use his fists.
  • The Ditz: Both Amos and Theodore.
  • Dumb Is Good: Amos and Theodore really want to be bad criminals, but their kindness (and stupidity) always trips them up.
  • Gold Fever: At first nobody wants the children, that all changes when it's discoverd that they are the sole owners of the huge gold chunk. It's actually rather digusting to watch all the town's people trying to take advantage of them.
  • Hates Being Touched: Clovis.
  • Hostage Situation: Celia gets taken by the Big Bad in order to prevent anyone from following him.
  • Insane Troll Logic: How the kids convince Amos and Theodore into taking the gold for themselves.
  • Professional Gambler: Donovan.
  • Stupid Crooks: The two robbers Amos and Theodore, who are after the gold the children found certainly count, with Don Knotts and Tim Conway as the robbers in the Film of the Book.
    • How dumb are they? They were once captured by a lawman who took pity on them and told them he couldn't hang them because he didn't have any rope, but if they came back tomorrow with some rope he'd take care of it. After they leave, the sheriff tells his deputy that if they're dumb enough to come back with a rope, he'll hang them for being Too Dumb to Live. The only reason they didn't come back to be hung was because they couldn't find any rope.
  • Rule of Funny
  • Running Gag: When Amos and Theodore try to do anything illegal, they're plan always fail.
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