The Time of Their Lives (1946)

Facebook Friends of a certain age might remember when old movies were shown on network television pretty routinely. Staples on Saturday and Sunday afternoons were the comedies of the '40s that featured Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, the Eastside Kids, and Abbott and Costello. Created more as diversions from the stresses of war and want than as art, these films were later broadcast on television because they were cheap and inoffensive family fare. I don't know that any of them has aged particularly well (although Seth McFarlane has gotten quite a lot of mileage out of the Crosby and Hope "Road to ..." movies on Family Guy) but I have a special fondness for Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. My favorite of the dozens of films they released during the '40s and '50s is probably not the best (technically) in their catalog but it's imaginative and a little magical, The Time of Their Lives (1946). The movie tells the story of a humble tinker and a young woman who meet on a colonial estate and are mistakenly killed as traitors by American Revolutionary War soldiers while trying to leave the estate to warn General Washington of Benedict Arnold's treachery. Their bodies are dumped in a well and cursed. For more than 150 years their ghosts are trapped on the property and may only be released to go to heaven if proof of their innocence is revealed. Costello plays the tinker, Marjorie Allen the young woman who was killed with him and Abbott plays both the tinker's rival and later a psychiatrist. The special effects (which were endlessly fascinating back in the day) will seem quaint to some but, unlike today's effects, they won't overwhelm the story. Recommended.


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