Cast & Crew
Eager to earn the $1,000 that old-timer Andrew "Cactus" Clayton offers them, down-at-the-heels theatrical agents Walter Martin and Eddie Taylor begin searching for their former client, Effie Canova, the great soprano who grubstaked Cactus years before. In their preoccupation, they do not notice when the prospector, who claims to have struck it rich and wants to repay Effie for her half of the mine, is taken away by two men in white coats. Upon learning that Effie died many years before, leaving behind a baby daughter who was placed in an orphanage in the town of Lamberts Landing, the agents presume that the child will inherit and scheme to adopt her to gain access to Effie's fortune. To finance the trip to Lamberts Landing, Walter and Eddie con gangster Spider Mike Lawrence into giving them $200 to bet on a horse, Hot Seat, planning to tell Mike later that the horse, which they know to be a long-shot, lost the race. At the orphanage, the headmistress, Mrs. Flanny, refuses to divulge which child is the daughter of the famous Effie, so Walter and Eddie break in during the night to search the confidential files. Interrupted by what seems to be the ghost of Effie singing in another room, they follow the sound and find Judy, the oldest child at the orphanage, and are convinced by her singing that she is Effie's daughter. As she is too old to adopt, the agents instead promise Judy a singing career and convince her to sign a contract, which directs ten percent of her money to go to them. As they prepare to take Judy to Nugget City, Walter and Eddie are captured by Mike and his henchman Louie, who have learned that Hot Seat won the race and want their winnings. Finding the agents broke, the gangsters outfit them in "cement overshoes," but Walter and Eddie manage to renegotiate and cut the gangsters in on part of Judy's inheritance. Despite problems with a runaway car, the gangsters, agents and Judy drive to Nugget City, which consists solely of a medieval-looking castle in the middle of the desert. Inside the castle, amidst old armor and medieval weapons, they are welcomed by Cactus, who, they are told, has been declared incompetent. Cactus' guardian Williams, who is assisted by two white-coated henchmen, explains that Cactus' wealth was squandered building the castle, which will soon be sold to pay taxes. Untroubled by the loss of her inheritance, Judy decides to stay with Cactus. The gangsters try to leave, taking the reluctant Eddie and Walter with them, but the car stalls and they are all forced to move in temporarily. During the night, Judy discovers that Williams and his men are tormenting Cactus to make him reveal where he is hoarding gold. Judy asks Mike for help, but when Judy and Mike return to Cactus' room, they find it unoccupied, as Williams has moved Cactus through a trap door into a secret room and has resumed the interrogation. Meanwhile, the tied-up Eddie and Walter, who are being guarded by Louie, free themselves and trap Louie in a Murphy bed, but when Walter encounters Mike in the hall, Mike chains him to a giant ball with a leg iron. Eventually, in the secret room, drugged with truth gas, Cactus tells Williams that the gold is hidden in the tower. Before Mike, Louie, Judy and Eddie, who are now working together, can stop them, Williams and his men drive away with a chest. Seeing Walter struggle with the huge ball and chain, Cactus recalls that he melted all his gold into a huge ball, painted it black and disguised it as a ball and chain. Everyone is joyous to realize that they still have the fortune, but then Williams and his men return, having come to the same conclusion. Using the medieval weaponry at hand, the men begin to battle, and seeing her cohorts losing, Judy joins the struggle. Upstairs, Walter is filing away at the chain to free himself and just as Williams is threatening Judy at swordpoint, the ball drops through the ceiling onto Williams, and he and his men lose the fight. Now that the fortune is secure, Walter immediately begins to scheme ways to increase Cactus' wealth, so that he will personally profit, and Mike, against Louie's advice, drops his previous grudge and listens to the ideas. Later, Judy, who has become a client of Walter and Eddie, performs onstage, billed as the "Nugget City Nightingale, a famous daughter of a famous mother," while Cactus, whom Judy has adopted as her grandpa, watches from the wings.
T. A. Carman
John Mccarthy Jr.
Herbert J. Yates
The working title of the film was The Hot Heiress. Although reviews list the duration of the film as 69 minutes, copyright records and Republic production charts set it at 90 minutes. A March 1951 Los Angeles Examiner news item announced that Judy Canova would be in London filming The Hot Heiress in July 1951. The script, according to the news item, was co-written by Canova and Jack Townley. Filming of the story was postponed for various reasons, including the completion of Canova's previous film, Oklahoma Annie, and the birth of her second daughter, Diana Rivera, who also went into acting, billing herself as "Diana Canova."
"Tweeny Canova, who appeared in the film, is Canova's oldest daughter. A July 1952 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that the script of The Hot Heiress had been revised, setting the locale in Boston instead of London. When the film rolled in December 1953, the story was set in the Southwest and Barry Shipman was credited onscreen as screenwriter and only Townley was credited for the story. A December 1953 Hollywood Reporter news item adds Grant Withers to the cast, but he was not in the viewed print.