If there was ever a match made in heaven, it could have been the Apple Dumpling Gang and Disney. The story as written by Jack Bickham is fun and delightful. A sheriff ends up with the kids of the town drunk - who can't deal with them and leaves town. The hardened sheriff is up for election and the town is frustrated with his inability to arrest outlaws. Trouble comes when the outlaws decide to rob the town bank because they think the sheriff is too busy babysitting. The whole time I read this book, I kept thinking this would make a great movie!
I haven't seen the movie in years and luckily the library had a copy. I loved this movie when I was a kid. As an adult, it was amusing, but not as great as I remember. I guess that is the problem of reading the book and comparing the movie. To be fair, the movie is fun too. Don Knotts and company produce a comedy that kids will love. The movie only has the slightest resemblance to the book. The town name changes to Quake city instead of Hopewell. There are fewer kids. The town gambler ends up with the kids. Some of the characters retain names from the books, but their roles are diminished.
All this begs the question of why? Perhaps we will never understand why Disney takes upon itself to change the source material so drastically. This isn't the only time Disney has done this. Lucky for them, the movie was a hit when it came out. I am thinking it may be time to remake the movie, and make it more like the book. The only problem will be coming up with a contemporary Don Knotts to play the comedic role of an old outlaw and of course the right director who respects the source material.
The book deserves an easy 4 stars and maybe even 5.
I am currently reading Lorna Doone by R. D. Blackmore