The Time of Their Lives (1946)

THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES (1946)
Article #757 by Dave Sindelar
Date Viewed: 4-11-2003
Date Posted: 9-8-2003
Directed by Charles Barton
Featuring Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Marjorie Reynolds

A tinker and a nobleman’s wife are mistaken for traitors during the revolutionary war. They are shot, and their bodies left in a well with a curse on their spirits. They return as ghosts, but it is not until many years later that they are allowed to prove their innocence.

There are a couple of ways to approach this movie. From a standpoint of it being an Abbott and Costello movie (i.e. a movie by the team), it is disappointing; they only have one scene together as characters who know each other, and it is fairly short and doesn’t allow them to indulge in their usual team antics. However, if seen from the angle of a movie that is not a vehicle for the team, but rather just featuring both members of the team in distinct roles, it is very interesting indeed. It may well be the most solid movie they’ve done from the standpoint of story, and as distinct characters rather than team members, both Bud and Lou are given a much wider range of acting space than they would have otherwise. The revolutionary-war period of the movie has a great deal of period charm, and the latter part of the movie (it’s a haunted house movie told from the point of view of the ghosts, which is a rather unique approach) achieves a certain ambience, and though the movie could have been converted to a team vehicle (with a little work, the Marjorie Reynolds role could have been changed around to work for Bud Abbott), I think it would have lost that ambience. In some ways, it is one of the strongest ghost stories of the forties. My only complaint is that Gale Sondergaard’s role could have been given more dimension than it has; she does well, but there really isn’t a whole lot to it.

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