Cast & Crew
Charles T. Barton
Traveling salesmen Duke Eagan and Chester Wooley stop on the outskirts of the Montana town of Wagon Gap while on their way to California. Despite being warned by their stagecoach driver about the lawless nature of the town, the two head into Wagon Gap, where their sample case is quickly stolen. When Chester shoots his gun in the air in hopes of stopping the thief, Red Hawkins, the town drunk, falls from the "Roundup" saloon's roof and dies. While most of the townspeople commend Chester on his marksmanship, Jim Simpson demands that Duke and Chester be charged with murder. When Judge Benbow, the local magistrate, refuses to charge the two salesmen, crooked saloon owner Jake Frame surprises everyone by forming a lynch mob. Duke and Chester are saved, however, by Jim and his citizens' committee, who insist that the two be given a fair trial. Tried instead by a kangaroo court, the two face certain death until Jim points out the Montana dueling law, which assigns all family and financial obligations of the deceased party to the survivor. The two salesmen are then taken to the Hawkins farm, where the overbearing Widow Hawkins quickly makes plans to marry Chester, hoping that he will become a permanent provider for her and her children. After rejecting the widow's advances, Chester is forced to work all day doing various farm chores and all night at the "Roundup" in order to pay Red's debts to Jake. Soon after, Jake and Widow Hawkins begin arguing over Chester's work schedule, so the two, along with Duke, play a single hand of poker for the salesman's debts, which the widow wins. Later, Chester is nearly shot when he is ordered by Widow Hawkins to remove Juanita, her beautiful eldest daughter, from the stage of the "Roundup," but the gunman, fearful of ending up like Chester, refuses to pull the trigger. With every man in town afraid even to touch him, Chester is made the sheriff of Wagon Gap, and rather than using a gun, he confronts the local ruffians with a picture of his family. Soon, Chester is bossing around everyone in town, including Duke and the widow. Unhappy with his turn of fortune, Duke tells Benbow that the railroad plans to run its track through Widow Hawkins' property, making her a wealthy and eligible woman. Meanwhile, Jake and his men make plans to rob the next gold shipment, having been mistakenly given its correct date by Duke and Chester. Learning of their error, the two salesmen head for Deadman's Pass to intercept the stage, but having lost his picture of the widow and her kin, Chester agrees with Duke's plan to head for California instead. Widow Hawkins chases after the two salesmen, however, causing Chester to inadvertently stop the stagecoach robbery. He then heads back to Wagon Gap to arrest Jake and his gang, unaware that they all plan to shoot him, in hopes of inheriting the widow's railroad money. The ensuing shootout is stopped when the local women, along with a disguised Chester, attack Jake's gang, leading to the capture of the crooked saloon keeper. Jake finally confesses to killing Red, releasing Chester from his bondage, and the two salesmen make plans to head of California, only to learn that the railroad has indeed offered to buy the Hawkins farm.
Charles T. Barton
Lee "lasses" White
Russell A. Gausman
Joseph E. Kenny
Frederic I. Rinaldo
Charles Van Enger
That wild goose chase of yours is going to lay an egg.- Chester Wooley
We stop the stage, the bandits are waiting for the stage, and then you show up instead of the stage.- Chester Wooley
That's pretty well-staged.- Duke Egan
The film was originally written for 'Stewart, James' , but when he couldn't commit to it, it was refashioned for Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, with Costello playing the part intended for Stewart.
Lou Costello's father, a western-film buff, died during the production of this movie, and as a tribute Lou listed him in the credits as Associate Producer, Sebastian Cristillo.
The story was based on an actual law in effect in Montana in the 1880s, which stated that a man who killed another man was responsible for the care and support of his victim's family.
The film opens with the following written foreword: "Montana: In the Days When Men Were Men-with Two Exceptions..." The film contained one unidentified musical number. While Lou Costello's character is called "Chester Primm" by contemporary reviews and the CBCS, the onscreen credits correctly list him as "Chester Wooley." Actress Patricia Alphin was originally cast in the role of "Juanita Hawkins" but suffered an attack of appendicitis during production and was replaced by Audrey Young, according to Hollywood Reporter news items. Associate producer Sebastian Cristillo was the father of Lou Costello, while dialogue director Norman Abbott was the nephew of Bud Abbott. According to interviews in modern sources, Beauchamp and Bowers wrote the treatment for The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap with James Stewart in mind, but when Universal purchased the story, it cast the comedy team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello instead. Modern sources include Forbes Murray in the cast.