The Time of Their Lives
Directed by Charles Barton
Produced by Val Burton
Written by Walter DeLeon
Val Burton
Bradford Ropes
Starring Bud Abbott
Lou Costello
Marjorie Reynolds
Gale Sondergaard
Binnie Barnes
John Shelton
Music by Milton Rosen
Cinematography Charles Van Enger
Editing by Philip Cahn
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s) August 16, 1946
Running time 82 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $830,000

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.[1]


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, especially Greenway whom Horatio mistakens for Cuthbert. The newcomers hold a seance and learn the identities of the two ghosts, and of the letter which can free them. 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.

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."



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.[2]

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.[3]


The film was re-released in 1951, along with Little Giant.

Home mediaEdit

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, Bob and Ron Palumbo (1991). Abbott and Costello in Hollywood. New York: Perigee Books. ISBN 0-399-51605-0
  2. Furmanek, Bob and Ron Palumbo (1991). Abbott and Costello in Hollywood. New York: Perigee Books. ISBN 0-399-51605-0
  3. Furmanek, Bob and Ron Palumbo (1991). Abbott and Costello in Hollywood. New York: Perigee Books. ISBN 0-399-51605-0

External linksEdit