Three orphan kids strike gold in California in 1878 in this better-than-average Disney romp. Meanwhile, a con man agrees to take possession of some property for a friend, unaware that the three orphans are included in the deal.
Old West gambler Russell Donovan (Bill Bixby) wins more than he bargained for when he’s forced to care for the three rambunctious kids. Looking for help, he arranges a marriage of convenience to spunky stagecoach driver Magnolia Dusty Clydesdale (Susan Clark).
The kids prove they may be worth more than it first seemed when gold is discovered in a mine they inherited. A discovery like this can’t go unnoticed for long, and soon the gold-crazy townspeople of Quake City are converging on the site.
Knotts and Conway play Theodore Ogelvie and Amos Tucker, incompetent outlaws (the “Hash Knife Outfit”) with eyes on the gold but soft spots in their hearts for the kids.
When rotten-to-the-core bandit Frank Stillwell (Slim Pickens) and his gang show up, Theodore and Amos side with the kids, leading to a slapstick showdown.
The antics hit big with audiences, leading to an inferior 1979 sequel, The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again.
Magnolia Dusty Clydesdale
Col. J.R. Clydesdale