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The Time of Their Lives

The Time of Their Lives title card

Year - 1946
Studio - Universal
Stars - Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Marjorie Reynolds, Binnie Barnes, John Shelton, Gale Sondergaard
Director - Charles Barton
Writing Credits - Val Burton, Walter DeLeon, Bradford Ropes (screenplay), John Grant (additional dialogue)
Music - Milton Rosen, Arthur Lange, William Lava


In 1780, the village tinker, Horatio Prim (Lou Costello) is proud of having a signed letter of recommendation from General George Washington. He plans to marry the Danbury Manor maid, Nora O'Leary (Annie Gillis), but the jealous butler, Cuthbert Greenway (Bud Abbott), locks him in a trunk and hides the Washington letter in a mantle clock. Melody Allen (Marjorie Reynolds) is engaged to the manor head, Thomas Danbury (Jess Barker) but she overhears him plotting to betray General Washington. She rescues Horatio from the trunk, and they ride together to warn Washington. But a patriot army arrives and mistakes them for traitors, shoots them and dumps their bodies down an old well. The commander utters a curse that their souls should forever be bound to the manor property unless their innocence is proven.

The Time of Their Lives poster

The manor house is burned to the ground, and the ghosts of Horatio and Melody can only wander the grounds. In 1946, Danbury's ancestor, Sheldon Gage (John Shelton) has the house rebuilt according to the exact original specifications. Horatio and Melody set about haunting the occupants, with the goal of influencing them to find the Washington letter in the old clock.

Gage and his guests, psychologist Dr. Ralph Greenway (Bud Abbott), Mildred Dean (Binnie Barnes), and the maid Emily (Gale Sondergaard) soon sense the ghosts' presence and conduct a séance to try to find out what they want. Horatio and Melody succeed in communicating to them to look inside the old clock. Gage, however, has replaced the clock with a replica and placed the original in a museum. Greenway goes to the museum, steals the clock and returns to the manor with the police in pursuit. After much (typical Abbott and Costello) chaos, the clock is opened and Horatio's honor is restored by Washington's letter. The two ghosts are free to ascend to Heaven. (However, when Horatio arrives to find his Nora, the pearly gates are locked, with a sign reading "Closed for Washington's Birthday").

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The Time of Their Lives was suggested for this site by Karine Philippot.