There's a similar situation in a John Wayne Western, "Chisum" between John Wayne and Ben Jonson.
Interestingly, John Wayne is named "Chisum" and Ben Jonson is named "Pepper".
There's a terrific documentary by Mark Rappaport from the late 1990's called Silver Screen: Color Me Lavender. He covered how Hollywood both dealt with and managed not to deal with homosexuality and one of the sections was about what he called "the Walter Brennan Syndrome", in which the hero's sidekick (usually an older man) did everything he could to steer the hero away from women and back to the old life they had when it was just the two men. He used lots of clips to support his ideas. There's also a very interesting section about male screen teams like Hope and Crosby and Martin and Lewis.