The Time of Their Lives : Two ghosts who were mistakenly branded as traitors during the Revolutionary War return to 20th century New England to retrieve a letter from George Washington which would prove their innocence.
Top-notch! Among A&C’s best!
The Time of Their Lives : Following the disappointing returns of “Little Giant,” Universal decided to continue the experiment of using Abbott and Costello as separate characters in a film — but with a few changes. The pathos of “Little Giant” was dropped, and the focus returned to comedy. A stronger plot was created, and the movie was set in part in the 18th century. The end result was “The Time of Their Lives,” which must rank high among the best of A&C’s films.
Perhaps one reason A&C’s characters were not a team again in this film was a feud between Abbott and Costello, but no one is quite sure. The reason was probably due to wanting to try something different. With “Little Giant,” this effort failed; with “TOTL,” they succeeded because Abbott fits so naturally into both his characters and because the storyline is fresh and different.
The tried-and-true A&C routines are missing, but no one notices because much of the humor derives from situations, which are often funny. The reactions to Costello’s hauntings are hilarious, and Bud gets some very genuine laughs. I agree with everyone that if A&C had broken up at this time, Abbott would have made a fine character actor in comedies, in a Eugene Pallette sort of way (though without Pallette’s girth.)
Despite the reputation this film enjoys today, 1946 audiences seemed rather tepid towards another A&C situational comedy with the boys not appearing as a team. As a result, this type of film was never again tried by A&C. However, it is a film worthy of viewing and deserves the reputation it enjoys today as one of their finest.