The Time of Their Lives
|The Time of Their Lives|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Charles Barton|
|Produced by||Val Burton|
|Written by||Walter DeLeon
|Music by||Milton Rosen|
|Cinematography||Charles Van Enger|
|Edited by||Philip Cahn|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Running time||82 minutes|
The Time of Their Lives is a 1946 American film starring the comedy team of Abbott and Costello.
As in the previous Abbott and Costello film, Little Giant, the duo plays separate characters instead of partners, due to tensions between them that led to their splitting up for a while in 1945. The film also avoids their famous routines. In this film, the two only speak directly to each other during one scene at the beginning of the film.
The time is 1780, and Horatio Prim (Lou Costello) is a master tinker. He travels to Tom Danbury's (Jess Barker) estate with a letter of commendation from General George Washington. He plans to present this letter to Danbury, whom he hopes to persuade into allowing Horatio to marry Nora O'Leary (Anne Gillis), Danbury's housemaid. Unfortunately, Horatio has a romantic rival in Cuthbert Greenway (Bud Abbott), Danbury's butler, who is very fond of Nora and intends to prevent Horatio from presenting his letter, which Nora has taken for safekeeping.
Nora happens to overhear Danbury discussing his part in Benedict Arnold's plot; Danbury captures her, and hides the commendation letter in a secret compartment of the mantel clock. Danbury's fiancée, Melody Allen (Marjorie Reynolds), witnesses the situation and sets off on horseback to warn Washington's army. She enlists Horatio's help, but the two of them are mistakenly shot by American troops that are arriving at the estate. The two are thrown down a well and condemned to remain bound to the estate unless evidence can prove their innocence. The soldiers ransack the house and burn it to the ground.
For the next 166 years, Horatio and Melody's ghosts roam the grounds of the estate before it is restored by Sheldon Gage (John Shelton). When the restoration is finished, complete with the "original" furniture (which was removed before the estate's fateful burning), Sheldon invites some friends to spend the night there. Accompanying him are his psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenway (Bud Abbott), a descendant of Cuthbert, as well as Sheldon's fiancée, June Prescott (Lynn Baggett) and her Aunt Millie (Binnie Barnes).
Upon arriving, they are greeted by Emily (Gale Sondergaard), the maid who strongly believes that the estate is haunted. Ghosts Horatio and Melody have some fun with this idea and try to scare the guests (playing the harpsichord, and turning on the radio full volume, among other noisy acts) especially Greenway whom Horatio mistakens for Cuthbert, and hits him with a candlestick. The newcomers hold a séance (during which Dr. Greenway is struck by Horatio for calling him and Melody traitors) and learn the identities of the two ghosts, and of the letter which can free them (the spirit of Tom, channeling through Emily, relays the secret combination to open the clock & reveal the letter.) They search for the letter but soon learn that not all of the furniture is original, as the clock which holds the letter sits in a New York museum. Greenway, as a way of atoning for the cruelty of his ancestor, travels to the museum to retrieve the letter. However, unexpected events force him to steal it. He arrives back at the estate, with state police on his tail.
Horatio uses the curse to his and Melody's advantage by riding in the car that is supposed to take Greenway to jail. The car is thus prevented from leaving the estate.
The letter has been found, and Melody and Horatio leave the estate to enter heaven. Unfortunately for Horatio, who is met at the gate by Nora, he must wait one more day, as Nora points to a sign that says heaven is "Closed for Washington's Birthday."
- Bud Abbott as Cuthbert Greenway / Dr. Ralph Greenway
- Lou Costello as Horatio Prim
- Marjorie Reynolds as Melody Allen
- Binnie Barnes as Mildred Dean
- John Shelton as Sheldon Gage
- Gale Sondergaard as Emily
- Lynn Baggett as June Prescott
- Jess Barker as Thomas Danbury
- Ann Gillis as Nora O'Leary
- Donald McBride as Lt. Mason
- William Hall as Sgt. Conners
- Robert Barrat as Maj. Putnam
- Rex Lease as Sgt. Makepeace
- Kirk Alyn as Dandy at Party
- Harry Brown as Second Sergeant
- George M. Carleton as Museum Guard
- Wheaton Chambers as Bill, Museum Guard
- James Conaty as Party Guest
- John Crawford as Dandy at Party
- Vernon Downing as Leigh, Traitor
- Marjorie Eaton as Bessie, Danbury's Maid
- Myron Healey as Dandy at Party
- Boyd Irwin as Cranwell, Traitor
- Selmer Jackson as Mr. Dibbs, Museum Curator
- William H. O'Brien as Danbury Servant
- Scott Thomson as Dandy at Party
- Harry Woolman as Motorcycle Rider
The Time of Their Lives was filmed from March 6 through May 15, 1946.
Abbott learned to drive a car for this film, which according to his son Bud Abbott, Jr., was the only time in his life that he ever drove.
A few weeks into filming, Costello wanted to switch roles with Abbott. He refused to work until this was done, but director Charles Barton waited it out; Costello eventually returned to work and said nothing more about it.
The film was re-released in 1951, along with Little Giant.
This film has been released three times on VHS, 1989,1991 and 2000. It has also 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.
- Furmanek p 141
- Furmanek, Bob and Ron Palumbo (1991). Abbott and Costello in Hollywood. New York: Perigee Books. ISBN 0-399-51605-0