The Apple Dumpling Gang

Movie review by
Heather Boerner, Common Sense Media
The Apple Dumpling Gang Movie Poster Image
Rollicking Old West ride lassos some stereotypes.
  • G
  • 1975
  • 100 minutes

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 5+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

There's lots of gambling, and Wintle abandons his kids. There's also a tiny community of Chinese people in the film yelling in Chinese and doing a lot of laundry. They are treated stereotypically and as scary characters meant to amuse kids. Some objectification of women: A character says that a man should never take another man's "wife, woman, or whiskey."

Violence & Scariness

Lots of slapstick violence, like Amos falling off a roof, the kids flying through town on an out-of-control gold mine cart, lots of chasing, crashing, and some explosions. There's a shoot-out at the end of the film in which some characters appear to be shot, but there's no blood and no one is seriously injured. Lots of people point guns at each other. Dusty throws things at Donovan and hits him with a pool stick. The Stillwell Gang kidnap the kids. Stillwell tries to strangle Donovan.

Sexy Stuff

Donovan and Dusty kiss.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Several characters smoke, including Donovan and Amos. A woman appears drunk and drops and breaks a beer bottle. Col. Clydesdale gets drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this 1975 Disney Western suffers from the stereotypes of its day, including a stereotypical portrayal of Asian people, and a condescending view of women. When Dusty gets married, she's no longer interested in running her father's business; She puts on a dress and stays home with the kids. There's also mild violence and danger that may frighten very young children, but it's mostly harmless.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byLisa B. August 7, 2019

Pretty Clean Fun

My husband and I watched this oldie as kids. Our kids enjoy the various mishaps that happen in this film. It does have a heavily-disguised comments about sex th... Continue reading
Adult Written byAmanda N. July 9, 2019

Great family movie

We all loved it, adults and children. ❤️
Teen, 17 years old Written byWilhelmina D. April 11, 2020

Amazing Movie!!!!!!

This was my favorite movie as a kid and it has only gotten better! There is absolutely nothing in here that you need to worry about. The majority of the violenc... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bymoviewannabe January 14, 2013

Hilarious slapstick classic!!!!

This may be a Disney movie, but it hilarious and this slapstick western should actually be a comedy instead of classic or family and kids. On Feburary 16, 2013... Continue reading

What's the story?

At a stop in Quake city, roaming bachelor Russell Donovan (Bill Bixby) tells a con man named Wintle that he'll wait for the stagecoach to pick up the man's "valuables," which turns out to be three kids. Stuck in the Gold Rush ghost town and saddled with the kids, Donovan tries to pawn his new charges off on hostile townsfolk. Meanwhile, the kids (Stacy Manning, Clay O'Brien, and Brad Savage) explore their family's gold mine. After a near disastrous cave-in, the kids find a 300-pound gold nugget. Suddenly those apathetic townsfolk are so concerned about the kids' welfare that they're tearing at Celia's new dress and the town dumb criminals Theodore and Amos (Don Knotts and Tim Conway) hatch a scheme to take that gold for themselves. But when Wintle returns to claim the kids and the riches, Donovan and the kids have to act quickly to outwit him.

Is it any good?

THE APPLE DUMPLING GANG is full of thrills and adventure exciting enough to keep kids interested, while mild enough not to frighten more sensitive kids. Knotts and Conway carry the film with their slapstick, and they're the characters kids are likely to remember and love. Though the film may seem dated now, the mild hijinx and silly fun, wild races and chases, and wacky characters are enough to keep kids giggling.

The only drawback is the outdated and offensive portrayals of women and Asian Americans, as shown in the Asian camp next to Quake City and the romance between Dusty (Susan Clark) and Donovan. Dusty jumps at the chance to marry Donovan, trading in her Old West gear for dresses and losing interest in running her father's stagecoach business.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what they would do if they came across lost money. Would you return it or keep it? What would you do for a lot of money? How different are you from the townspeople?

Movie details

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