The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap (1947) Poster

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Definitely one fans will enjoy but also good enough for the casual viewer
bob the moo9 December 2009
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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A Picture is Worth a Thousand Bullets
bkoganbing6 May 2006
Two traveling salesmen (guess who) arrive in the lawless frontier town of Wagon Gap where the outlaw boss Gordon Jones and citizen's committee head William Ching are in a power struggle. Poor inept Costello winds up getting framed for a murder and he and Abbott are both about to be hung when Ching discovers a law in Montana Territory about a man who causes the death of another is responsible for the deceased's debts and family. Costello takes the responsibility.

He soon thinks capital punishment even the extralegal kind might be preferable to dealing with Marjorie Main and her squalling band of kids. Think of Costello inheriting the Kettle clan if Pa Kettle had met his demise at Costello's hands and you have some idea what Costello is going through.

But quite by accident it's discovered that Costello has carte blanche in Wagon Gap because no one wants to see any harm come to him or else they might inherit Marjorie Main. Costello carries a picture of her and the clan close to his heart and it's more valuable than a Sherman Tank would have been. He has a very funny scene cooling down a town drunk played by Dewey Robinson after he's made sheriff.

Marjorie Main with her own brand of rustic humor does not yield the film to Bud and Lou. You might also like the performance of George Cleveland as a judge not unlike Samuel S. Hinds in Destry Rides Again.

In fact the whole film has a lot of similarity to Destry and no surprise there since this was originally supposed to be a more serious story that was to have starred James Stewart. When he passed on it, it was rewritten for Abbott and Costello.

The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap should appeal to both fans of the Kettle family and those of Bud and Lou. Between them they accounted for a big portion of what counted as profits for Universal Studios.
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One of Abbott and Costello's best...
MartinHafer21 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Aside from ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN, this might just be one of Abbott and Costello's best films, though it represents a great departure from their earlier films. The early films followed a clear formula in which Bud and Lou did their comedy (often reprising old Vaudeville bits), there was a romance between two pretty but bland supporting characters and lot and lots of singing--and often in the form of huge and silly production numbers. As a result, the script was rather superficial and the story was driven by these three elements. However, by the time THE WISTFUL WIDOW OF WAGON GAP came along, a newer (and in my opinion, often better) style emerged. Gone (thank goodness) were the songs, the romantic subplot was de-emphasized and Bud and Lou now appeared in character-driven plots--and their old routines were all but gone. Getting rid of the routines was a good idea, as by this film, the team kept repeating themselves--doing many versions of "Who's on First", "7x13=21" and Bud (or someone else) cheating Lou as they count out money.

This film is in many ways like combining a traditional Western with an Abbott and Costello comedy and this mix worked quite well. Much of this credit is due to the writing but I think a big part of this also was having Marjorie Main in a big supporting role. She was always a funny bit player in films and here she gets more to do (like she would in her "Ma and Pa Kettle" films). Plus, I appreciate just how game she was--as many of the jokes poked fun at her homely appearance. Poor lady! It all begins with Bud and Lou coming to a Western town. Soon after arriving, Lou is accused of killing a man, though it's obvious to the audience that Lou's shot probably had nothing to do with this. The townspeople want to string him up, but in court he is saved by an obscure law that calls for the surviving person in a shootout to assume the debts and take care of the victim's family! So now, Lou is spared a hanging, but is stuck with Main and seven kids! Main wants marriage--Lou just wants to work to take care of them and just hopes everything works out somehow.

Later in the film, the plot takes a funny twist. You see, all the men in town really feel sorry for Lou, as Main and her brood aren't exactly much of a catch. When Lou realizes this is an insurance policy of sorts, he realizes no one will ever try to kill him. So, he volunteers to become sheriff and is almost fearless in his duties--after all, what does he have to lose?! Seeing this change is quite funny as is the entire film. In fact, it's nice that the film actually gets better as it goes and saves some of the best stuff for last.

Overall, an excellent film and quite an improvement in the series. The only prior film that seemed to come close to THE WISTFUL WIDOW in quality and fun is WHO DONE IT!--and this, also, because it abandoned the singing and stuck with comedy.
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One of their best
solongsuckers5 August 2003
This is one of my favorite Abbott and Costello movies and one of their best. There really isn't that much interplay between Abbott and Costello, despite the basics, as Marjorie Main consumes (or inhales) a lot of the attention. The classic and time consuming routines are also few and far between. The script is one of the tightest in the team's movies and there aren't really any dead spots. The supporting characters are very strong and Abbott and Costello don't have to scene steal to be effective. The plot is thus: Abbott and Costello come to Wagon Gap and shoot off a gun to make a statement. A man falls dead and, faster then you can say "railroad", Costello is made the sole supporter of the dead man's family. Marjorie Main plays the less then weeping widow. She's actually a very talented comedian, her gruff, manly demeanor aside. The townsfolk are seedy vigilantes and provide a hostile setting. The humor is great, with some great, subtle lines and a very funny routine where Costello gets smacked with paint while painting a fence. The best plot twist is Costello being named sheriff because no one will touch him (much less shoot him) as they would have to provide for the gruff and nagging Main. The typical hurricane ending is less chaotic and more pleasing then the regular. A lot of fun and one of my favorite Abbott and Costello movies.
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Costello does a Sheriff in Drag Arresting The Bad Guys in Stitches
DKosty12321 August 2008
This Abbott & Costello outing is definitely a very much formula Comedy Western done in the late 1940's when all the movies were pretty much formula. Director Charles Barton who worked with the boys more than any other director does pretty well here. Barton never became a household name as a director but anyone who is a fan of the team knows his name was the most frequent one with them.

The best thing about this film is Marjorie Main. She is a major addition to a cast which includes Gordon Jones. Marjorie does comedy well including her Ma Kettle films but in this one she plays off and supports A&C just fine. She is the Widow here and as in the case of the Kettles has a big household of young ones. This is very much in her element of comedy.

While Abbott & Costello do not get a lot of verbal comedy in this, there is enough of them for their fans. Some of the special effects used we OK then but look dated now. At least there is not a lot of musical interruptions to annoy the viewer in this one. Overall, this one is much better than their worst outings.
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Plenty of Great Gags and Laughs
Michael_Elliott20 July 2015
The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap (1947)

*** (out of 4)

Duke Egan (Bud Abbott) and Chester Wooley (Lou Costello) go to a small Western town that is nothing but non-stop fights and shootings. The two buy some guns even though neither know what they're doing and when a man falls dead out from the sky they're blamed for it. To set a new policy, the judge orders Wooley to take care of the man's widow (Marjorie Main) and her wild children.

THE WISTFUL WIDOW OF WAGON GAP has always been one of my favorite non "Meet" movies from Abbott and Costello because of all the hilarious jokes scattered throughout the picture. The duo did quite a few movies set in the old West but this one here is clearly head and shoulders above the rest due to some very well-written jokes and it also giving Costello a chance to act big and tough.

The highlight of the picture happens early on at a dinner sequence where Costello is trying to eat a bowl of soup but the widow's kids have put a frog in it. The back and forth between Costello and the (fake) frog was priceless and the timing was right on the mark. Another hilarious scene is the card playing one where the boys think they've came up with a good way to cheat. Also, a running gag has everyone in town afraid to kill Costello because they'd then have to take over the widow. This allows Costello some great gags where he plays it tough and pushes people around.

The performances are a major plus with both Bud and Lou doing a very good job and playing off each other nicely. Main is also extremely good as the loud and obnoxious widow. Audrey Young, Gordon Jones and George Cleveland are also quite good and you can look for Glenn Strange who had just appeared with the boys in ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN, playing the monster of course.

THE WISFUL WIDOW OF WAGON GAP is without question one of the duo's best and funniest films.
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"Mrs. Hawkins, marriage is nothing but a three ring circus, first the engagement ring, then the wedding ring, and then suffering."
classicsoncall7 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Abbott and Costello managed to wreak havoc in virtually every type of movie genre, and the Western was no exception. They did it the first time in 1942's "Ride 'Em Cowboy", and came back once more in "The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap". The boys are traveling salesmen for all of about five minutes in the film's introduction, before Lou's character Chester Wooley fires a gun into the air, claiming a victim by the name of Hawkins. When members of a hastily called jury arrive with nooses to determine his fate, Wooley is saved by a Montana law that requires the victor in a duel to provide for the departed's widow and family. In this case the widow Hawkins is Marjorie Main, not terribly upset by her new unmarried status, but determined to wed once again.

Perennial Costello foil Gordon Jones is on hand here as outlaw gang leader Jake Frame, and as usual is largely ineffective in reigning in his nemesis. Eventually Chester is appointed sheriff to clean up Frame and his gang, on the assumption that no one will shoot him because then the wife and child support duties will in turn fall to them. Chester plays it to the hilt with a picture of Mrs. Hawkins and her brood close to his heart, or in his back pocket as it were, lending formidable support to his cause.

If you've seen much of Abbott and Costello in other films, you'll sense something missing here. Their early films tended to include a host of musical numbers, and physical comedy punctuated by at least three or four well choreographed routines. The finale usually turned into a frenetic thrill ride on some appropriately misguided missile appropriate to the movie's theme, in "Ride 'Em Cowboy" it was a stampeding bronco. In this movie you find yourself leaning forward for the payoffs, but they're fewer and further between. The frog in the soup routine is the one recognizable bit, and he comes back for a quick cameo later on.

Besides Marjorie Main, there's not much of a supporting cast here either. "Ride 'Em Cowboy" featured a pair of legitimate "B" Western movie stars in Johnny Mack Brown and Dick Foran. The best this film can do is give us a glimpse of gang members Glenn Strange and Rex Lease, with George Cleveland as Judge Benbow who by film's end winds up with the widow's hand in a Bud Abbott film flam that turns out to be real.

Don't be put off by my lukewarm recommendation here, "The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap" is an enjoyable vehicle for A&C fans, but they've been better in other vehicles. So was the frog.
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Pretty good
SanteeFats10 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
This is another pretty good Abbott and Costello movie. Two tenderfoot's stumble into the western town of Wagon Gap, a very lawless town. Carrying guns for the first times in their lives they try and emulate the locals who are riding and shooting all over the place. Firing into the air a man's body drops to the street from above. For reasons unknow the local gang boss sides with the law and order crowd in wanting a trial, oops a lynching. Saved by state statutes the accused , gee it's Lou, go figure, is sentenced to taking care of the man's widow and kids. The widow Hawkins has a whole bevy of kids and is also pretty mean and kind of ugly. The humor is of course standard A & B and is still very funny. Lou is made sheriff because who ever kills him must take over the widow and her family. Every one is afraid of him until the news gets out that the railroad will be coming through the widow's property. So the movie ends with every one shooting at him so they can get the loot, the widow gets a proposal from the judge which she accepts,law and order is restored, and Bud and Lou continue on their journey to California.
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Cowboys And Idiots
slokes9 July 2012
A pretty fair romp of a comedy western, "The Wistful Widow Of Wagon Gap" showcases the veteran comedy team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello to winning effect. While the dialogue could be sharper, the boys make the most of a cleverer-than-usual plot where the hangman's rope and the killer's gun mean nothing next to the protection of a formidable widow.

Chester Wooley (Lou) and Duke Eagan (Bud) are travelling salesmen in the Old West who wander into Montana's most lawless community, Wagon Gap. A lucky (or unlucky) shot makes Chester the killer of one of its toughest citizens - and inheritor of his even tougher widow and seven bumptious children. Widow Hawkins (Marjorie Main) gives Chester an ultimatum: Marry her or be her slave. It's a job no sane man would want. Once Chester figures this out, he becomes not only sheriff of Wagon Gap but pretty much untouchable.

Abbott & Costello were still box-office draws in 1947, but their standard formula was getting stale and their odd detours into sentiment - including the under-appreciated "The Time Of Their Lives" - were draining their stature. "Wagon Gap" is a return to their comedy-first form, but like plantonrules points out in a 2009 review here, a decided change-up from prior, routine-laden outings.

You do get some bits recognizable from prior movies. In one, Chester battles a persistent frog in his soup much like the oyster routine he did in "Here Come The Co-Eds." Another is a rehash of the dice-shooting scene from "Buck Privates," except this time the game is poker and Main's the one who knows more than she lets on.

Most of the laughter this time rides on the situation itself, as well as some fresh exchanges of illogic between Duke and Chester, like when Chester discovers Duke is packing a pistol with a longer barrel.

"Yours is much longer than mine," Chester whines.

"So what?" Duke replies. "All you have to do is stand closer to whoever's shooting at you."

While A&C at this time are often described by film historians as waiting for the green arms of Frankenstein to raise them out of the ruts, Main provides a decided lift. Baleful yet somehow endearing, she's every bit as formidable as Bela Lugosi would be, especially when putting the moves on her unwilling beau.

"I'm not a forward woman," she explains. "All my life I've been shy and bashful. Just a rosebud, afraid to bloom. But now, I'm takin' the bull by the horns!" She does, too, alternately threatening and cajoling Chester with the help of a dog who not only can stop a getaway, but spell it, too.

There's also Duke to contend with, true to form resting on a hammock and letting his buddy do all the work. Watching Lou turn the tables on Bud is one of the most satisfying parts of this satisfying film. Bud and Lou may have been having their behind-the-scenes problems, but here they work in tandem quite well, whether Lou is being taken advantage of or else lording it over Bud.

Director Charles Barton knew well the core of what made Bud & Lou funny, and he seems to have fun with the writers (also experienced A&C hands including John Grant, who is usually blamed for pushing too many of the team's standard routines into their films) in exploiting this to novel effect. No time-killing musical numbers this time, and the romantic subplot with the secondary players is kept to a bare minimum, which are welcome reliefs.

Yet I don't think "Wagon Gap" makes the greatest Bud & Lou showcase. At its best, it's more amusing than the kind of laugh-fest you wish it would become, too often leaving it to Lou to make cute faces at the camera in lieu of a good exit line. The ending leaves too many loose plot strands unwrapped for a lame payoff shot.

Still, any fair-minded viewer will see much to smile at, and hardcore Abbott & Costello fans like me will relish the way "Wagon Gap" tinkers with the formula while keeping its central elements intact and sometimes quite fresh. There was still life in these guys six years after their first giant splash on screen, even before they had their famous "comeback."
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Abbott and Costello bring law and order to Wagon Gap
SimonJack15 September 2020
The prologue on this film, gives one an idea of what's ahead in "The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap." It reads, "Montana, in the days when men were men - with two exceptions." I agree with those reviewers who find this as one of the better films of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, along with "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein."

The boys play a couple of peddlers working their way to California in this comedy Western. The advertisement on their suitcase reads, "Eagan & Wooley, Household Specialties, 'Our Specialty", Home Office, Patterson, N.J." But once in the stopover town of Wagon Gap, their means of livelihood changes over night.

This film has the usual comical antics and horseplay that mark Abbott and Costello films, and it's quite funny. It has a couple of very good original scenarios (e.g., the dinner table and a frog in Lou's soup). But the best comedy comes from a script that is peppered with very funny lines. The premise of the plot drives most of the humor here.

Costello plays Chester Wooley who is charged with providing for the widow and family of a man he's accused of shooting on arriving in town. One has to see this very early scene to even comprehend that. The Widow Hawkins is played superbly by Marjorie Main who would become known in the future for her starring roles opposite Percy Kilbride in the 1950s' series of Ma and Pa Kettle films. Since every sober man (and even those who aren't) in Wagon Gap dreads such a prospect for himself, Chester becomes fearless and very successful when he is made sheriff.

Bud Abbott is mostly a sidekick to Costello and Main who carry this film. There's a little anomaly with Abbott's character - in the spelling of his name. The only time it's written in the film, it's spelled Duke Eagan on their suitcase. But the credits that role on the film, spell his last name without the first "a" - as Egan.

This is a fun film that most people should enjoy.
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Stopover: Montana
lugonian4 August 2019
THE WISTFUL WIDOW OF WAGON GAP (Universal-International, 1947), directed by Charles T. Barton (title not to be confused with similar sounding RUGGLES OF RED GAP (Paramount, 1935) starring Charles Laughton), returns the comedy team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello to western setting for the first time since RIDE 'EM COWBOY (1942). With the title role going to Marjorie Main, she also has the distinction of having her name placed above the title along with Abbott and Costello. Casting Main opposite the dual is priceless, for that this character actress with the raspy voice and rough exterior, makes a good opposition for the little tubby Costello. Having already played hillbilly parts in MURDER HE SAYS (Paramount, 1945), and the role of a lifetime as Ma Kettle as introduced in THE EGG AND I (Universal, 1947), who else but Marjorie Main could assume the title role and make it so appealing?

Setting the pace with its opening title: "Montana in the days when men were men - with two exceptions ..." the story introduces the two exceptions being Duke Degan (Bud Abbott) and Chester Woolley (Lou Costello), a couple of city slickers traveling to Californian by way of stagecoach. Being household specialty salesmen from Paterson, New Jersey, their coach stops three miles from the nearest town town of Wagon Gap, forcing the twosome to walk the rest of the way. Entering Red Gap, they find the town lacks law and order, consisting of shootings, flying bullets and barroom brawls. After acquiring a couple of shooting irons, Chester's gunshot into the air ends up with the body of notorious gambler, Fred Hawkins, falling by his side. Accused of the killing, Duke and Chester first find themselves with a noose around their necks before Jim Simpson (William Ching) insists of a fair trial. The trial, set in a bar with Judge Benbow (George Cleveland) presiding, with the hanging party as their jurors, Simpson saves the necks of the twosome from a mock trial by reading a Montana law book where the one responsible for the death of the party must be responsible of the obligation of the deceased, the one being Chester. No sooner do Duke and Chester meet up their responsibility by ending up on the farm of the Widow Hawkins (Marjorie Main), and her seven unruly children: Juanita (Audrey Young), Matt (Bill Clauson), Billy (Bill O'Leary), Sarah (Pamela Wells), Jefferson (Jimmie Bates), Lincoln (Phil Dunn), and Sally (Diane Florentine). The widow takes a liking to Chester to become her next husband, while Duke is assigned as the family guardian. To make sure these men don't sneak away, the widow assigns her vicious German shepherd dog, Wolf, stand guard in their bedroom. Because Chester refuses to marry and become the new father, the widow has him doing all the household chores, forcing Chester to come late for his meals, eaten by the lazy Duke and the Hawkins brew. Later, Chester becomes the town sheriff, using the widow's family photo as protection against those going against his ruling. Further complications ensue as Duke spreads rumor about a railroad going through the widow's land that would make her the richest woman of Wagon Gap. Will Duke and Chester ever get to make it to California? Other cast members include: Gordon Jones (Jake Frame); Peter Thompson (Phil); Glenn Strange ("Lefty") and Dewey Robinson. Audrey Young, as the eldest of the Hawkins children, sings "There's Plenty More Than Time" in the Round-Up Saloon sequence,but not in its entirety.

A solid 78 minute Abbott and Costello comedy where their scenes are nearly stolen by Main's performance, the team offers some of their usual gag material as highlights, including a frog jumping from one bowl of soup to another, disrupting the dining area. Their cheating card game, originally performed by Bud and Lou in BUCK PRIVATES (1941), is repeated, with the only difference being performed by Abbott and Main instead of Costello. Other than chasing scenes, usually found in their comedies, Costello playing sheriff requiring respect from a town of toughs is typical, yet amusingly done.

Though not exceptionally a great comedy, THE WISTUL WIDOW OF WAGON GAP, is certainly fun to watch. It's a wonder what would have been had Abbott, Costello and Marjorie Main joined forces together in her popular "Ma and Pa Kettle" film series? Seeing this movie comes close to such an idea. Costello sharing antics with Pa Kettle (Percy Kilbride) would have been hilarious. Formerly distributed on video cassette, currently available on DVD. (**1/2)
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Marjorie Main about steals this one.
weezeralfalfa11 September 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This unusual comedy is a hybrid between an Abbott and Costello comedy, and a Ma and Pa Kettle comedy, lacking only Percy Kilbride as Pa. Marjorie Main(Ma) wants to remedy that deficiency by grabbing Costello as her new Pa(What a disaster that would be!). But, he's not willing to make that sacrifice, although thanks to a bogus murder conviction, he's responsible for the welfare of her family(7kids!) and any unpaid debts of the deceased, unless she marries again.

Meanwhile, Lou is elected sheriff of Wagon Gap, Montana, mainly because everyone knows that if they should kill him and be convicted, they would be saddled with Lou's responsibilities to Marjorie's family. (Question: Why wouldn't such a person be responsible for Lou's non-existent family rather than Marjorie's? Presumably, because they would be responsible for both, since, at that time, Lou was responsible for both). Whereas, before Lou was being pushed around by everyone, now, as sheriff, he has the courage to be bold and bossy.

A&C steal a buckboard and plan to head for California: their initial goal. But Marjorie had read their minds, and chased them on horseback. Eventually, Lou falls off the buckboard ,down a steep slope, landing on top of a gold-carrying stage in the process of being held up. He quickly grabs the reigns and speeds off, with Marjorie still chasing him. She recognizes some of the men as members of the gang led by saloon-owner Jake Frame, who eventually admits guilt for the murder A&C were sentenced for.

Abbott tells the judge(George Cleveland) that Marjorie stands to become wealthy soon, as the railroad wants some of her property to run a line. Abbott told this fib to hopefully induce the judge to propose to Marjorie, which he does. But, he's turned down, as Marjorie still prefers the idiotic Lou. Word gets around about this development, and suddenly men are no longer afraid of killing Lou(Why)? Because if they kill him and become responsible for Marjorie's family, she could then take care of herself, and perhaps he could marry her and more fully share her wealth.)

There follows a gun battle between A&C plus the honest citizens, vs. the outlaws. Lou and company eventually prevail(I thought Lou previously collected all the guns in town?). The judge again proposes to Marjorie, and she accepts, provided Lou is still not interested in her. He isn't. Abbott tells all that the story that Margaret will soon be rich via the railway is bogus. But... See the film to learn the rather obvious finale.

Familiar-looking George Cleveland well played the non-too competent judge. He held the trial for A&C in the town saloon.....William Ching played Jim Simpson, who was the leader of the honest citizens of Wagon Gap, and boyfriend of Juanita(Audrey Young), the oldest of Marjorie's children.... Gordon Jones played Jake Frame, head of the criminal element and saloon owner... Marjorie makes this film special, usually upstaging the others around her. Her style of humor isn't easy to describe, and is quite different from A&C's.

A&C engage in a routine based upon a slightly different version shown in "Here Come the Co-eds", which involved a live oyster in Lou's soup. Here, it's a frog, which keeps hopping back and forth between Lou's and Abbott's soup, with Abbott never seeing it, busy reading the paper. Quite funny.

I heartily recommend this film for fans of A&C, as well as fans of Marjorie.
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Marjorie Main is a Great co-star-very funny
mike4812815 April 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Who has seen all 32+ Abbott and Costello Movies? Certainly not me, but this is one of my favorites. An almost bloodless "Western". Marjorie Main is the "wistful" widow no one wants to marry. Costello has to take care of her after he is mistakenly blamed as her outlaw husband's killer. Similar to her famous "Ma Kettle role", she is cantankerous and has seven kids. The first half of the film is all about Bud and Lou's farm life. The widow's German Shepard Dog keeps the boys in line! The old "Oyster in the soup" vaudeville gag is very well-done as "The Frog in the Soup". Lou does all the chores and mending and Bud sits around "on his brains" due to his fake heart condition. (How ironic, as Lou really had one.) The widow wants to marry Lou. So cliché, but it all works great as a comedy Western. Plenty of shootin' up the town and the saloon. Lou plays a "fearless" sheriff and is very good at it! One of the daughters is beautiful, so naturally she falls in love with "the good guy". She becomes a dance-hall girl. (Remember, this is a family film.) The widow saves the day with her own fancy shootin' and riding. (By the stuntman) In the end, the town's women take control and stop all the violence and bloodshed. Lou misses his chance of a lifetime when the railroad actually does make an offer to buy the widow's land and she marries the crooked judge! As they both leave for California in a buckboard, Lou throws away his rifle and that riles up the Indians. As Bud explains: "You never do anything right, do you?" Great fun.
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A Funny Feature From A & C.
AaronCapenBanner27 October 2013
Abbott & Costello play two salesman named Duke Egan & Chester Woolley in the old west who, while visiting the rowdy town of Wagon Gap in Montana become famous after Chester is believed to have shot a notorious outlaw. Unfortunately, this means that Chester inherits his wife widow Hawkins(played by Marjorie Main) and his many children of varying ages. Duke is assigned as his guardian, and at first poor Chester is worked to death, but later realizes that, since no man envies his position, makes him the perfect sheriff, since no one dares oppose him for fear of being the new husband! This will change when it is learned the widow will soon be rich... Clever comedy uses an old obscure law for good comedic effect. Result is a most amusing and appealing film from the team, with Miss Main being their near-equal.
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The Egghead and I.
mark.waltz19 November 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Just a year before she scored as Ma Kettle and created a lengthy series, Marjorie Main appeared in nearly the same part as the Widow Hawkins whose hated husband is apparently accidentally killed by Lou Costello. If it's not the Widow Main, it's her attractive daughter Audrey Young (a bit of a vamp), a bunch of bratty younger kids or a pranksterous bullfrog who loves soup hopping. Main makes Bud and Lou work for her, setting her sites on Lou as her next husband. She knows how to sweet talk and how to be aggressive if the sweet-talking doesn't work, leading to some very funny situations.

While not as messy as Ma Kettle, the widow Hawkins isn't about to let Lou go without a fight, and Ms. Main is an absolute delight whether reciting sonnets or barking orders. She deserves honors for being one of the funniest women in film, even though she had plenty of roles where she was either heartbreaking or heartbusting. Lou scores with the better part and lines, especially when he informs Main about the rings of marriage. Bill Clauson is also very funny as the bratty oldest son who causes Lou no end of trouble.

Then there's George Cleveland as the town judge who spends more time sleeping than pounding his gavel (and when he does, it's not dispersing justice) as well as Gordon Jones and William Ching who are rivals for Ms. Young. Of course, Lou takes a ton of abuse which he does with his customary harranged humor. This has everything going for it, and it's a shame that Abbott and Costello never worked with Main again.
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One of my favorite Abbott and Costello pictures!
JohnHowardReid24 November 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Bud Abbott (Duke Eagan), Lou Costello (Chester Woolley), Marjorie Main (Widow Hawkins), Audrey Young (Juanita Hawkins), George Cleveland (Judge Benbow), Gordon Jones (Jake Frame), William Ching (Jim Simpson), Peter Thompson (Phil), Olin Howland (aka Howlin) (undertaker), Bill Clauson (Matt Hawkins), Billy O'Leary (Billy Hawkins), Pamela Wells (Sara Hawkins), Paul Dunn (Lincoln Hawkins), Diane Florentine (Sally Hawkins), Jimmie Bates (Jefferson Hawkins), Rex Lease (Hank), Glenn Strange (Lefty), Edmund Cobb (Lem), Dewey Robinson (miner), Emmett Lynn (old codger), Iris Adrian (dance hall hostess), Charles King (gunman), Ed Peil (townsman), Lee "Lasses" White (shot-gun rider), Gilda Feldrais (hostess), Billy Engle (undertaker's helper), Dave Sharpe (man thrown by widow), Frank Hagney (barfly), Harry Evans (card dealer), Frank Marlow, Ethan Laidlaw, Jerry Jerome, Zon Murray (cowboys), Wade Crosby (Squint), Murray Leonard (bartender), George Lewis (cow puncher), Jack Shutta (tough miner), Mickey Simpson (big miner), Forbes Murray.

Director: CHARLES BARTON. Screenplay: Robert Lees, Frederic I. Rinaldo, John Grant. Original screen story: D. D. Beauchamp, William Bowers. Film editor: Frank Gross. Music composed by Walter Schumann. Photography: Charles Van Enger. Art directors: Bernard Herzbrun, Gabriel Scognamillo. Set decorations: Russell A. Gausman, Charles Wyrick. Music orchestrations: David Tamkin. Assistant director: Joseph E. Kenny. Dialogue director: Norman Abbott. Costumes: Rosemary Odell. Hair styles: Carmen Dirigo. Make-up: Bud Westmore. Sound recording: Charles Felstead and Robert Pritchard. Associate producer: Sebastian Cristello. Producer: Robert Arthur.

Copyright 31 October 1947 by Universal Pictures Co., Inc and C S Co. Released through Universal. New York opening at Loew's State: 20 November 1947. U.S. release: October 1947. U.K. release: 15 November 1948 (sic). Australian release: 15 January 1948. 7,041 feet. 78 minutes.

U.K. release title: The WISTFUL WIDOW.

COMMENT: Critics who decry the work of Abbott & Costello will not find much ammunition in this agreeably-paced western directed with style and gusto and produced on a lavish budget.

In this film, Abbott & Costello's routines do not derive from radio or vaudeville, nor are they extraneous items clumsily tacked on to the main plot by an indifferent script-carpenter. Here, they form an integral part of a very amusing story based on an excellent comic idea.

The humor is much less noisy and frantic than usual and the script allows Bud and Lou — particularly Bud — much more scope with their respective characterizations. The supporting cast, headed by Marjorie Main and George Cleveland, has been well-chosen and offers Dewey Robinson a meaty part as an unruly drunk.

There is a fine action climax. Production values are first-class.

OTHER VIEWS: My editor always wanted to include Laurel and Hardy's "Way Out West" as a superb example of western satire for my book of Hollywood Classics. I said if I'm going to laud "Way Out West", I must also do a piece on "The Wistful Widow". (This abbreviated title was actually used for the film's U.K. release, so I'll stick with it). "The Wistful Widow" I said, is not only much funnier and more openly satirical, but it's a much smoother film than the Laurel and Hardy effort which suffers from jerky continuity and a lack of technical polish in many behind-camera departments, such as direction, photography, film editing and sound recording. These technical defects, admittedly small enough to be overlooked by rabid fans, give "Way Out West" something of a museum air.

But there's nothing musty, unpolished or less than thoroughly professional about "The Wistful Widow". In fact it's hilarious enough to rank as one of my favorite Abbott and Costello pictures. The boys play well with Marjorie Main and a great support cast, taking every advantage of a really funny script.

For the record, my top Abbott and Costello is "The Time Of Their Lives". Then "Meet Frankenstein", then "Hold That Ghost", then "The Wistful Widow."

Their worst film? That's easy — "Dance With Me Henry." JHR writing as George Addison.
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