Time of Their Lives, The (1946)

Time of Their Lives, The (1946)

“There’s a curse on this house, all right.”

During the Revolutionary War, a patriotic tinker (Lou Costello) and a noblewoman (Marjorie Reynolds) are mistaken for traitors and shot, their ghosts cursed to remain on the same plot of land until they can prove their innocence.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Abbott and Costello Films
  • Comedy
  • Falsely Accused
  • Fantasy
  • Ghosts
  • Old Dark House

The Time of Their Lives was Abbott and Costello’s second attempt — after Little Giant (1946) — at moving away from buddy films and towards a more “traditional” style of comedy. Here, they tap into the genre of “ghostly comedy” (a la the enormously successful Topper trilogy), with a twist of period drama for good measure — though the bulk of the film takes place in 1946. As in Little Giant, Abbott once again plays dual roles (as Costello’s Revolutionary War-era nemesis, and his descendant), but Abbott’s the primary protagonist — along with his female “buddy”, Marjorie Reynolds. The story — involving Costello and Reynolds desperately trying to get modern-day Abbott and his friends to help them uncover a hidden letter from George Washington, which will prove their innocence — is innocuous and reasonably entertaining, but I found myself noticing (and sorely missing) the absence of A&C’s classic routines. This one is really only must see for fans of Abbott and Costello — many of whom, interestingly, consider it among their best.

Note: This film’s rather generic title really should have been reconsidered… It makes little sense, and doesn’t accurately convey the movie’s central premise.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Bud Abbott and Marjorie Reynolds as the doomed ghosts
  • The effectively “spooky” seance scene

Must See?
No, but it’s worth a look if you stumble upon it.


One thought on “Time of Their Lives, The (1946)

  1. Not must-see.

    In my comment for ‘The Little Giant’, even though I didn’t consider it must-see, I still found it to be “a diverting delight”. I can’t say anything similar here. A&C fans may feel differently (and may even be amused) but, to me, this film seems made of very thin stuff; it sort of wears out its welcome too soon.

    Costello and Reynolds have very nice chemistry as the ghosts and are very believable as best friends.

    However, once the premise is established, the film stalls for the most part. It doesn’t have any real place to advance to (and there’s nothing substantial by way of complication, even though there’s a bit of a chase near the end of the film). So viewers mostly wade through innocuous nonsense (the centerpiece of which is a lengthy seance) until the ghosts get their wish granted.

    There’s not much here that’s really all that funny (some of the humor has, unfortunately, become dated) – but, again, it may serve well for those seeking A&C nostalgia.

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