Chester Wooley (Lou Costello) and Duke Egan (Bud Abbott) are traveling salesmen who make a stopover in Wagon Gap, Montana while en route to California. During the stopover, a notorious ...
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Chester Wooley (Lou Costello) and Duke Egan (Bud Abbott) are traveling salesmen who make a stopover in Wagon Gap, Montana while en route to California. During the stopover, a notorious criminal, Fred Hawkins, is murdered, and the two are charged with the crime. They are quickly tried, convicted, and sentenced to die by hanging. The head of the local citizen's committee, Jim Simpson (William Ching), recalls a law whereby the survivor of a gun duel must take responsibility for the deceased's debts and family. The law spares the two from execution, but Chester is now responsible for the widow Hawkins (Marjorie Main) and her seven children. They go to her farm, where Chester is worked by Mrs. Hawkins from dawn to dusk. To make matters worse, Chester must work at the saloon at night to repay Hawkin's debt to its owner, Jake Frame (Gordon Jones). Her plan is to wear Chester down until he agrees to marry her. Chester quickly learns that no one will harm him, for fear that they will have to ... Written by
Definitely one fans will enjoy but also good enough for the casual viewer
When travelling salesmen Duke and Chester are found guilty of a murder they did not commit, they face a choice between hanging or being responsible for picking up all the dead man's debts and responsibilities. Of course they pick the latter but they didn't reckon for the size of the dead man's family or the veracity of his widow. This is the setup for the film and, having seen a lot of "formula" Abbott & Costello recently (the "lead" cast have a romantic plot of sorts while A&C do the comedy parts) I was interested to see a film where they were the main players for all of it.
The result was actually one of their stronger films as the comedy is well mixed with the plot (such as it is). This means we don't have the usual reliance on wooden actors to keep the plot moving or musical numbers to fill the time out (both normal devices in these films). The laughs come from pratfalls, double-takes and clever dialogue and I must confess I was surprised by how easy the film was to enjoy. The plot is not that great but at least it is consistently moving without the stuttering effect that the other formula would often produce (wooden scene followed by funny scene) and it has much more of a flow to it than some of their films. Both Abbott and Costello are on good form and working well together but the real bonus is the casting of Main, who, from the tagline, must have been well known at the time (I know she is Ma Kettle – I just have no idea of those films whatsoever). She is great fun and she works very well with Costello in particular. The support cast are solid as they allow the stars to play off their support and generally everyone does what one would expect from them.
For some reason I had low expectations for this film (perhaps the title and that I'd never heard of it) but the reality was that it was a very enjoyable film from Abbott and Costello. By having them in the front of the plot the stuttering is gone and the film flows much better than some of theirs, while the laughs are fairly frequent and come from a range of types of humour. Definitely one fans will enjoy but also good enough for the casual viewer.
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