The Wistful Widow of Wagon Gap (1947)
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.