Movie Review: The Time of Their Lives (1946)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1946 comedy starring Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.

Synopsis: After overhearing her fiance's plans to betray George Washington, a New England patriot asks an engaged tinker to help her warn the general's men. However, a case of mistaken identity cause them to be shot down and, because they are believed to be traitors, their spirits are forced to roam the property forever, or at least until they can prove their innocence.


I introduced my oldest daughter to her first Abbott and Costello movie several years ago, the night before her baby sister came home from the hospital. And, she has been a big fan since. As a result, we've watched quite a few of their other films together and, when I saw this movie was airing, I ended up recording it so we could watch it together yesterday. Overall, I think it was another good choice.

This movie is somewhat unique when compared to other Abbott and Costello films. Even though the film gives the comedy dual top billing, they actually don't appear in the film as a team. In fact, if anything, Abbott is more of a co-star with Costello and Marjorie Reynolds getting the bulk of the screen time.

The thing I found I liked about this one was the plot wasn't quite as predictable as other Abbott and Costello films we've watched. This is because, even though the spirits gaining their freedom seems easy (all they have to do is find a note from George Washington that clears their name), it proves to be much more difficult because of a variety of obstacles ranging from furniture being removed from the house to the property itself being burned down.

Also, while Abbott doesn't have that big of a role in the film, his scenes with Costello (which primarily consists of the Tinker's ghost trying to get revenge because he believes Abbott's character is the butler who wronged him) were still very funny. And, I have to admit, it was actually kind of fun watching Abbott in more of a bad guy role because it allowed him to show off his own comedy skills rather than simply play Costello's straight man.

Another intriguing thing about this film was the relationship Costello's tinker character had with Reynolds' ghost character. They both had loves they pined for. But, at times, it did look like they were developing feelings for each other too. This did keep things somewhat interesting, at least in my opinion, because I wondered if they would actually leave the property once they were freed or would decide to remain. As a result, the ending just wasn't anywhere near as predictable as I thought it would be and that is a good thing.

Final Opinion

As I said, it was a bit strange not seeing Abbott and Costello working as a team in this movie. But, in many ways, I think that helped the film because it allowed them to branch out more rather than just performing the same routines they perform in most of their films. My daughter and I definitely enjoyed this movie as a result.

My Grade: A

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Updated: 03/21/2016, StevenHelmer
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DerdriuMarriner on 03/31/2022

StevenHelmer, Thank you for practical information, pretty pictures and product lines.
The library system does not have The Time of Their Lives amongst its Blu-ray and DVD collections. But I expect to check again because sometimes not all the films in an omnibus collection get listed.

Who would be able to step into Abbott's and Costello's comedic routines nowadays? Would Adam Sandler be an eligible contender, and, if so, which one would he be?

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