Making the Grades
"Terrorizing the west" takes on a whole new meaning when referring to the Apple Dumpling Gang. Unlike other quick-draw outlaws of infamy, this duo's blundering butterfingers represent their greatest menace.
Partners Theodore (Don Knotts) and Amos (Tim Conway) abandoned their ill-fated aspirations to become bandits at the end of the first movie. In this sequel, they leave a retirement of farm chores behind to seek their fortune in Junction City. Despite a determination to remain on the straight and narrow, their reintroduction into society quickly stirs up a hornet's nest of lawmen and gangsters alike.
Things go awry the moment the hapless men try to deposit their hard earned savings at the town bank. Stumbling into a hold-up, they are immediately mistaken as accomplices in the heist. Matters only get worse when the attempt to surrender their six-shooters results in a stray bullet inadvertently injuring the hands and pride of the local sheriff.
Dodging the sworn revenge of Marshall Woolly Bill Hitchcock (Kenneth Mars), Amos and Theodore stow away in a champagne laden wagon headed for a celebration at a neighboring military base. By the time they arrive, they are in a drunk and disorderly state. Discovered by Major Gaskill (Harry Morgan), the ne'er do-wells are conscripted into the army with the hope some strict discipline will cure what ails them.
Such optimism proves to be an idle wish. Although the harried officers have already suffered a rash of sabotaged supply wagons and the murder of a few of their company, these serious concerns appear as mere inconveniences next to the havoc wreaked by the bumbling bumpkins.
Yet even a court marshal and jail sentence can't keep the problematic pair from causing more trouble. Thanks to an embellished past reputation, a band of villainous criminals coerce the cooperation of the Apple Dumpling Gang in a railway robbery. Having no friends on either side of the law, the pair is forced to rely on their own wits. (And unfortunately, even if they put their heads together, they'd be lucky to find half a mind between them.)
For parents, this silliness-at-its-best Disney movie presents mild concerns, such as a cigar smoking bad guy, some saloon swilling cowboys, a politically-incorrect depiction of Native Americans, and the main characters dressing in drag.
Yet, despite the mystery and mayhem in the background story, the comedic talents of Knotts and Conway keeps The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again from ever taking itself too seriously. From flying punch bowls to flaming forts, these two are sure to go down in movie history as the fastest fumble-bums in the west.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again.
Obviously, Theodore and Amos are not the hardened, sharpshooters they are assumed to be, but what other characters in the movie are not as they appear? How blind is Martha? How inexperienced is Private Reed? What inner secrets do we learn about Milly Gaskill, and Jim Ravencroft? How accurate can you be when you judge others just by what you see?