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Blu-ray Review The Apple Dumpling Gang Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Matt Hough, Jul 28, 2015.

  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    XenForo Template The Apple Dumpling Gang Blu-ray Review

    Three orphans, a slick gambler, a tomboyish female stagecoach driver, and two bumbling outlaws: just the makings for a Disney period western comedy with just the proper portions of laughs, sentiment, adventure, and romance. It’s Norman Tokar’s The Apple Dumpling Gang, probably more famous now as the first big screen pairing of comic actors Don Knotts and Tim Conway, and the personas they take on here pretty much defined their pairings in all of their movies in tandem. As for the rest, it’s a pleasant family comedy with possibly less adventure than the usual Disney mixture and once again featuring a raft of high class character acting talent to bolster the stars of the film.


    Cover Art


    Studio: Disney

    Distributed By: N/A

    Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

    Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1

    Audio: English 2.0 DD

    Subtitles: English SDH

    Rating: G

    Run Time: 1 Hr. 40 Min.

    Package Includes: Blu-ray

    keep case in a slipcover

    Disc Type: BD25 (single layer)

    Region: ABC

    Release Date: 12/01/2014

    MSRP: $24.95




    The Production Rating: 3/5

    Gambler Russell Donavan (Bill Bixby) is tricked into assuming guardianship of three orphan children (Clay O'Brien, Brad Savage, Stacey Manning) who insist that their father told them before his death that there was gold in the Commodore Mine which they own even though Donavan has no intention of spending any time looking for any of it. While he tries to find other accommodations for the children, they go off to their mine, cause a partial cave-in, and uncover an enormous gold nugget which has the whole town in an uproar and every adult now willing to take over their guardianship. But Russell rather than leaving the kids with mercenary strangers decides to platonically marry the town’s female stagecoach driver Dusty Clydesdale (Susan Clark) and take care of them. But little do they know that a band of outlaws led by the dastardly Frank Stillwell (Slim Pickens) plans to rob the kids of their gold and that two former members of Frank’s gang, Theodore Ogelvie (Don Knotts) and Amos Tucker (Tim Conway), also intend to take the gold for themselves.

     

    The screenplay by Don Tait based on the book by Jack M. Bickham won’t be taxing for even the foggiest of brains. The movie has built-in cheerfulness: as mischievous as the children can be, they’re still lovable and appealing, and while the movie first appears it’s going to be a fish-out-of-water story (longtime bachelor saddled with three kids without any skills in caring for them), it segues rather quickly into an anecdotal set of scenes featuring different pockets of the movie’s primary characters. The bungling outlaws have their scenes where they constantly screw up every attempt at lawbreaking that they try. The children aid in causing lots of Disney’s patented comic mayhem that lays on the slapstick thick and fast. The chaste romance is soft-pedaled throughout (the couple only kisses once at the end of the film; they shake hands at their wedding). And the real bad guys only figure in a couple of scenes including a foiled bank robbery and the climactic escape from town with hero and villain battling each other aboard a runaway fire engine. All of this is handled quite competently by director Norman Tokar though without much zest or invention. Once we’re introduced to all of the main characters, we know exactly where the movie is going to go, and it goes there without unnecessary detours but without any surprises either.

     

    There isn’t much of a romantic spark between Bill Bixby and Susan Clark, so perhaps it’s good that the script doesn’t force continual awkward moments between them. Much more charismatic is the pairing of comics Don Knotts and Tim Conway: Knotts the planner/mastermind and Conway the dimwit who constantly can’t see the forest for the trees. It was a dual relationship that would serve them well in a series of films right into the 1980s. The children do fine but don’t quite have the spark of Disney children from previous movie eras. Once again, Disney has spared no expense in padding its comedy films with the cream of Hollywood character actors. This time out there are, in addition to Knotts, Conway, and Pickens, the likes of David Wayne (as Dusty’s father), Harry Morgan (as the town’s combination sheriff, judge, and barber), John McGiver (as the town banker), and as townspersons Iris Adrian, Fran Ryan, Olan Soulé, Richard Farnsworth, and even HTF member Bruce Kimmel.



    Video Rating: 4.5/5  3D Rating: NA

    The film has been framed at 1.66:1 and is presented in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. Sharpness and color are both quite outstanding during the presentation with realistic and appealing flesh tones. Contrast has been dialed in consistently, but black levels inside the mine and elsewhere are only of average depth. The image is spotlessly clean, however, with no signs of age-related artifacts The film has been divided into 12 chapters.



    Audio Rating: 4/5

    There is no lossless sound encode with this Blu-ray disc. Instead, Disney has provided a midrange bitrate Dolby Digital 2.0 sound mix which Dolby Prologic decodes into the center channel. Likely the mono mix heard during original engagements, dialogue is clear and clean and in no way compromised when mixed with the background score of Buddy Baker or the atmospheric effects. In fact, the bass levels during the mine cave-in sequence are quite impressive. No age-related hiss or crackle can be heard during the presentation.



    Special Features Rating: 0/5

    There are no bonus materials included with this specialty Blu-ray release.



    Overall Rating: 3/5

    The Apple Dumpling Gang was a big enough hit to warrant a sequel several years later, and the simple, appealing mix of comedy and adventure is pleasant if non-taxing for families of any make-up. The movie is offered as part of the Disney Movie Club (www.DisneyMovieClub.com) though you can certainly find it offered for sale with varying prices at Amazon (see below) and through other marketplace sellers.


    Reviewed By: Matt Hough


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  2. skylark68

    skylark68 Screenwriter

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    Another favorite of mine from Disney. I guess I should bite the bullet and join the club but I have a hard time doing so (bad memories of Columbia House dancing through my head).
     
  3. David Norman

    David Norman Producer

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    Sweet juicy apples vs rotten rutabagas. Honestly I've had little problem with CH or BMG previously, but DMC is in class of it's own.

    DMC is the bastion of customer service and the way something like this should be run. Old School customer service with Mickey Mouse Ice Cream Bar on top. Not that there haven't been issues with missing items, slow shipping at times, sometimes something gets broken or the wrong item is packed.
    Even occasionally a Monthly title you declined gets sent (very rarely, but it happens).

    DMR customer service is hands down the best trained and most responsive group I know of. I find it very unusual for people to not be happy with the way they're treated by this company even when they're not 100% on target. I would guess the truly unhappy % is well under 1% and possibly order of magnitude less.
    Now that I've said that somebody in this thread will end up being the 1.

    If you do join make sure to read up on the Intro Promo codes so you get the best overall deal -- basically it should end up being 6 or 7 enrollment titles for ($12/21) with 2 only future purchases and a MM or Frozen kids "blanket" which while not luxurious, it is pretty neat
     
  4. RobertSiegel

    RobertSiegel Screenwriter
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    It's very idiotic that Disney is releasing the movies from their movie club on Blu-ray with lossy audio. Should they release a great stereo presentation like The Happiest Millionaire, it will really make me angry if it is lossy.
     
  5. haineshisway

    haineshisway Producer

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    Glad someone noticed who was in this movie! :)
     
    TravisR and Matt Hough like this.

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