The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap

The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap

Theatrical Poster
Directed by Charles Barton
Produced by Robert Arthur
Written by John Grant
Frederic I. Rinaldo
Robert Lees
Starring Bud Abbott
Lou Costello
Marjorie Main
Audrey Young
Music by Walter Schumann
Edited by Frank Gross
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • October 8, 1947 (1947-10-08)
Running time
78 min.
Language English
Budget $778,000[1]
Box office $2,625,000[2] or $2.4 million (US rentals)[3]

The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap is a 1947 film starring the comedy team of Abbott and Costello.


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 support Mrs. Hawkins and her family. Simpson makes Chester the sheriff in hopes that the fear of him will help clean up the lawless town. For protection, Chester carries around a photograph of Mrs. Hawkins and her kids. The approach works for a while, and Chester is heralded as a hero. Meanwhile, Duke still plans to go to California and tries to get Judge Benbow (George Cleveland) to marry Mrs. Hawkins, in order to free him and Chester from their obligations. He starts a rumor that Mrs. Hawkins is about to become rich once the railroad buys her land to lay tracks. The rumor takes on a life of its own, with everyone trying to kill Chester in hopes of marrying Mrs. Hawkins (and becoming wealthy in the process). Frame eventually confesses to Hawkins' murder; Duke and Chester are cleared and allowed to leave town, but not before they admit that the railroad rumor was fabricated by them. Benbow still wants to marry Mrs. Hawkins, and she agrees. She then announces that the railroad actually did offer her substantial money, and she is now wealthy.


It was filmed from April 29 through June 20, 1947. The film was budgeted at $750,000 - a new lower figure set for Abbott and Costello movies. It went $28,000 over.[4]

On May 3, during production of this film, Costello dedicated the Lou Costello Jr. Youth Center in memory of his son in Los Angeles. Less than a week later, on May 9 his father, Sebastian Cristillo, died of a heart attack. Costello blamed their agent, Eddie Sherman, for upsetting his father the night before (triggering the heart attack) and fired him. The team went without an agent for two years.[5]

Comic book

The first issue of the Abbott and Costello comic book, published in February 1948 by St. John Publishing, was an adaption of this film. Out of the forty issues published between 1948 and 1956, this was the only one that was based on one of their films.


Included is a variation on the Oyster routine used previously in 1945's Here Come The Co-Eds, this time using a frog.

DVD release

This film has been released twice on DVD. The first time, on The Best of Abbott and Costello Volume Two, on May 4, 2004, and again on October 28, 2008 as part of Abbott and Costello: The Complete Universal Pictures Collection.


  1. Furmanek p 155
  2. Furmanek p 155
  3. "Top Grossers of 1947", Variety, 7 January 1948 p 63
  4. Furmanek p 155
  5. Furmanek, Bob and Ron Palumbo (1991). Abbott and Costello in Hollywood. New York: Perigee Books. ISBN 0-399-51605-0
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