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A&C: The Time of Your Life


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Heads Up! it's DVR time.

 

one of the best Abbott & Costello movies (if not THE Best) is on tonight at 10 PM edt, The Time of Their Lives (1946).

 

unlike most A&C fliks, this movie has a not (too) convoluted plot (yes, there's a pretty good plot), and some interesting characterizations. Lou isn't a dumb buffoon in this one, he's just a little short on logic skills. Bud isn't always picking on Lou mostly because they're not on screen together much, and Bud comes off as a pretty good guy. Gale Sondergaard does a neat spin on a "Mrs. Danvers" type character.

 

this small movie is a minor revelation. it's too bad it didn't do well at the box office which forced A&C back into their standard roles.

 

this is a pretty good start for the "ghost" theme on Thursdays this month.

 

 

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Heads Up! it's DVR time.

 

one of the best Abbott & Costello movies (if not THE Best) is on tonight at 10 PM edt, The Time of Their Lives (1946).

 

unlike most A&C fliks, this movie has a not (too) convoluted plot (yes, there's a pretty good plot), and some interesting characterizations. Lou isn't a dumb buffoon in this one, he's just a little short on logic skills. Bud isn't always picking on Lou mostly because they're not on screen together much, and Bud comes off as a pretty good guy. Gale Sondergaard does a neat spin on a "Mrs. Danvers" type character.

 

this small movie is a minor revelation. it's too bad it didn't do well at the box office which forced A&C back into their standard roles.

 

this is a pretty good start for the "ghost" theme on Thursdays this month.

Odds Bodkins! I can't believe I didn't see this in the schedule, thank you allthumbs, This is favorite movie of mine, Bud and Abbott or not.Lovely little film, from beginning to end. Love the evocative Melllllllody, Melody's blouse, Gale's incantations, and of course .... the end! A real treat.

 

BTW, it's The Time Of Their Lives.

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The Time of Their Lives is an oddly affecting mixture of ghostly shenanigans, slapstick and sentiment. Lou Costello gives a rather touching performance, and he and Marjorie Reynolds have nice chemistry.

 

Without question, this is one of the best films A & C made, even if they're not a real team in this one. Even people who normally don't care for Abbott & Costello should give this one a try, if only because it's so different from anything else they made.

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Heads Up! it's DVR time.

 

one of the best Abbott & Costello movies (if not THE Best) is on tonight at 10 PM edt, The Time of Their Lives (1946).

 

unlike most A&C fliks, this movie has a not (too) convoluted plot (yes, there's a pretty good plot), and some interesting characterizations. Lou isn't a dumb buffoon in this one, he's just a little short on logic skills. Bud isn't always picking on Lou mostly because they're not on screen together much, and Bud comes off as a pretty good guy. Gale Sondergaard does a neat spin on a "Mrs. Danvers" type character.

 

this small movie is a minor revelation. it's too bad it didn't do well at the box office which forced A&C back into their standard roles.

 

this is a pretty good start for the "ghost" theme on Thursdays this month.

Thanks again. That scene at the end with the falling stars - how did they do that in the days before CGI? - gets me every time. Made me a sucker for ghost/fantasy movies before I learned to walk. :D

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So many things make this an outstanding picture.  Great script (and a lot of confusion about which was actually written first - THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES or John Cecil Holm's GRAMERCY GHOST); the inspired casting of Binnie Barnes.  Even John Shelton - a B picture nobody was natural and effective.  Milton Rosen's original score, interpolating patriotic themes as well as Grainger melodies (thank goodness they didn't "Salterize" the film).  The unique special effects, such as Lou getting stuck in the window seat.  And especially Bud Abbott's marvelous performance in a pure character part.  Bud was very self-conscious about his talent and relied completely on Lou, which was too bad.  He could have had a great ancillary career as a character actor.  Gale Sondergaard - Universal's Spider Woman - gave me nightmares for many years with her seance transferrence.

 

I ran this picture at the Shadowland Theatre a couple of years ago and it got tremendous applause.

 

time_of_their_lives_washington_b.jpg

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So many things make this an outstanding picture.  Great script (and a lot of confusion about which was actually written first - THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES or John Cecil Holm's GRAMERCY GHOST); the inspired casting of Binnie Barnes.  Even John Shelton - a B picture nobody was natural and effective.  Milton Rosen's original score, interpolating patriotic themes as well as Grainger melodies (thank goodness they didn't "Salterize" the film).  The unique special effects, such as Lou getting stuck in the window seat.  And especially Bud Abbott's marvelous performance in a pure character part.  Bud was very self-conscious about his talent and relied completely on Lou, which was too bad.  He could have had a great ancillary career as a character actor.  Gale Sondergaard - Universal's Spider Woman - gave me nightmares for many years with her seance transferrence.

 

I ran this picture at the Shadowland Theatre a couple of years ago and it got tremendous applause.

 

time_of_their_lives_washington_b.jpg

Excellent picture. I liked Donald McBride too. I don't think I've ever seen John Shelton again, and he was very good. I loved Binnie's asides. A very inspired casting.

 

I didn't know that about Bud, how sad. I remember cutting out the notice from the Daily News when Bud died in the Old Actor's Home in 1974. I guess it's a nice place, but I was so sad for him at the time. A&C used to be a big favorite of mine.

 

To think Gale might have been the Wicked Witch! Margaret was scary enough.

 

If I may ask, what is 'Salterize'?

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I love Abbott and Costello. I have a complete collection of all their movies. Time of Their Lives was always one of my favorites! Love the effects. This was when Ghost movies were fun and not Gorey trash! I watched Costello last year on This is Your Life[i think it was that], I cried through the whole thing. Must try and catch it on Youtube if it is still there. Abbott and Costello were Great human beings!

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If I may ask, what is 'Salterize'?

Ray is referring to composer Hans J, Salter, who wrote many a score for Universal. His themes were used  over and over in several films. For example, take the opening theme to the Sherlock Holmes movies. That same theme appears in Son of Dracula during the scene where Chaney is about to meet his doom. I would assume that "Salterize" means using stock music from Salter, rather than creating a new score.

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Wow. Thank you so much for posting that episode of This Is Your LIfe. I wasn't expecting to spill tears in my coffee this morning, but it was a hellova threat.

I was pretty much bummed out when I saw that the Time of Thier Lives was going to be on while I was at work. I haven't seen that picture in ages. It's a wonderful film. I grew up watching Bud & Lou. They were a favorite of mine when I was a kid and they still are.

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So many things make this an outstanding picture.  Great script (and a lot of confusion about which was actually written first - THE TIME OF THEIR LIVES or John Cecil Holm's GRAMERCY GHOST); the inspired casting of Binnie Barnes.  Even John Shelton - a B picture nobody was natural and effective.  Milton Rosen's original score, interpolating patriotic themes as well as Grainger melodies (thank goodness they didn't "Salterize" the film).  The unique special effects, such as Lou getting stuck in the window seat.  And especially Bud Abbott's marvelous performance in a pure character part.  Bud was very self-conscious about his talent and relied completely on Lou, which was too bad.  He could have had a great ancillary career as a character actor.  Gale Sondergaard - Universal's Spider Woman - gave me nightmares for many years with her seance transferrence.

 

I ran this picture at the Shadowland Theatre a couple of years ago and it got tremendous applause.

 

time_of_their_lives_washington_b.jpg

Thanks for the great picture , Ray.

 

And thanks, too, for acknowledging Bud Abbott's very nice turn in this film, as well.

 

I vaguely recall the time that I saw a sickly, broke (income tax harrassed) Bud when he appeared in a wheelchair on television, asking if his fans could send him a dollar in the mail. How degrading that was, and such a sad ending for this man.

 

Better to remember him for his prime years as (the less celebrated) half of one of films' great comedy teams. Certainly his character performance in The Time of Their Lives does show that Bud might have been able to have a career without Lou. His performance in 1961's The Joke's On Me on General Electric Theatre, playing the manager of obnoxious comic Lee Marvin, was further proof of that.

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It's nice to see that this movie meant so much to a lot of you, to be honest though, I found it more of an oddity than anything else. A very, very peculiar movie.

I think that The Time of Their Lives has a genuinely sweet quality to its sentiment. I'm not certain that I would use that word to describe any other A & C film.

 

It's a film that also works on other levels, as well, of course, which only adds to the overall pleasure of watching it, I feel. It also shows that the boys were capable of making a good film that didn't depend largely upon slapstick (though there is some of that there) and the comedians' trademark fast patter.

 

It's unfortunate that this experiment on the studio's part with superior material and not using the comics as a comedy team didn't receive a bigger reception at the box office. With the exception of A & C Meet Frankenstein, the quality of their films afterward (back to the usual fast talk formula) would not shine as brightly as this one.

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I'm sorry, but I suppose you'd have to be a die hard fan of A&C to appreciate this.  I used to like them when I was very young, but once I reached adolescence, I outgrew them, as I did the Three Stooges.

 

 

Sepiatone

I used to be a diehard A & C fan but now find many of their films tiresome. The Time of Their Lives still charms me for the reasons that I already stated. It is so untypical of the boys.

 

You may have outgrown the Three Stooges as a team. But surely you are not saying that Curly can't still make you laugh?

 

images5_zpsedba69e0.jpg

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dc40d8bc-61b7-4f86-b0f7-f05ab6ef7259_zps

 

There's got to be some kind of backstory to this photo here. Lou looks like he is really peeved at something Hope (who looks none too cheery himself) said....or maybe he didn't want to take a photo with Abbot.

 

Only Crosby looks genuinely enthused to be there- he was probably high.

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Thanks, crazyblonde. I loathe Ralph Edwards, he would constantly talk over the guest star in the interest of moving the program forward. Phony as a three dollar bill. I LOVED Sid and Carl and Howard's takeoff on the show.

 

I don't remember the A&C episode, but they seem to be in none too excellent health. Nor were Laurel and Hardy, when they took their turn on this unctuous show.

 

Lou was never the same after his son drowned.

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Ray is referring to composer Hans J, Salter, who wrote many a score for Universal. His themes were used  over and over in several films. For example, take the opening theme to the Sherlock Holmes movies. That same theme appears in Son of Dracula during the scene where Chaney is about to meet his doom. I would assume that "Salterize" means using stock music from Salter, rather than creating a new score.

Ah. Thanks, scsu1975.

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I used to be a diehard A & C fan but now find many of their films tiresome. The Time of Their Lives still charms me for the reasons that I already stated. It is so untypical of the boys.

 

You may have outgrown the Three Stooges as a team. But surely you are not saying that Curly can't still make you laugh?

 

images5_zpsedba69e0.jpg

Like the kid in Dream On, I grew up in front of the set. The A&C show reruns, along with I Love Lucy, were manna from heaven to me and my brother. I knew all the bits, can still recite most of them, along with The Honeymooners dialogue, and someday recognizing Cavalleria Rusticana because Hillary Brooke's father liked it to hear it while eating a giant salami is going to come in handy. :D

 

Sadly, I can no longer sit through their movies either. In addition, even though I was thrilled to see Moe Howard on The Officer Joe Bolton Show a million years ago, I can no longer abide The Three Stooges for their cruelty. They (Shemp, blech) did show up in a short on a cable channel recently, as themselves, their girlfriends, and their fathers, which was odd. There was also a recent spot with them (happily with Curly) doing Niagara Falls in front of soldiers, real or costumed, I couldn't tell.

 

Curly still remains a favorite, no doubt because he was always put upon.

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There's got to be some kind of backstory to this photo here. Lou looks like he is really peeved at something Hope (who looks none too cheery himself) said....or maybe he didn't want to take a photo with Abbot.

 

Only Crosby looks genuinely enthused to be there- he was probably high.

Here's an article I found and the reason for Bud and Lou in that photo with Crosby and Hope. According to the article the early hours of the telethon were slow. Perhaps that accounts for the expression on Lou's face, just waiting to get on to do the "Who's On First" routine. Maybe Lou thought it was more of a "Who The Heck's Finally Going To Get A Chance To Be On First" routine.

 

hopecrosbyhead.jpg

by L. WAYNE HICKS

bingandbob1.jpgThe Hollywood glitterati typically gathers for self-congratulatory affairs - the Oscars, the Emmys, to name two events - but for part of a night and a day in 1952, the spotlights of the movie capital were turned outward. For 14 and a half hours, all anyone focused on were a few hundred deserving athletes who were bound for Helsinki, Finland.

 

With a shortfall of funds facing the U.S. Olympic team, Hollywood luminaries gathered on the stage of the El Capitan Theatre in Los Angeles and pleaded, cajoled and implored the television audience watching on both NBC and CBS to phone in their pledges.

 

The telethon was hosted by Bob Hope and his frequent co-star in the Paramount Pictures string of "Road" movies, Bing Crosby, who until then had shied away from television.

 

A week before the telethon, Hope marked Crosby's impending television debut by showing a large cutout of his friend on "The Colgate Comedy Hour." Crosby, a CBS man, and Hope, always on NBC, joined forces at the behest of Vincent X. Flaherty, a legendary sports columnist for the now-defunct Los Angeles Examiner and a drinking and golfing buddy of both men.

Telethons were a relatively new idea at the time. Milton Berle starred in the first telethon in 1949, a 16-hour effort that raised $100,000 for New York's Damon Runyon Memorial Cancer Fund. Similar telethons that followed were strictly aired locally.

 

Flaherty proposed a national telethon as a way to reach as many donors as possible. The Olympics were scheduled for July 19-Aug. 3 and the day for the athletes to depart was coming up fast.

avery1.jpgFlaherty talked the telethon idea over with Hope and then wrote Avery Brundage (seen left), president of the U.S. Olympic Committee, in Chicago. When Brundage ventured to California in May while Hope and Crosby were filming "Road to Bali," Flaherty brought the trio together at Paramount.

 

"You can be assured we're going to have a show for you, Mr. Brundage," Hope declared.

 

"You can count me in, too," Crosby said. "I'll do anything I can to help. That's a promise."

 

"This is the most wonderful thing that ever happened to us," Brundage would say later.

 

Flaherty's newspaper was owned by William Randolph Hearst, and sportswriters and editors at Hearst newspapers across the country were put to work as cheerleaders to promote the coming event. Bill Corum of the New York Journal-American and a friend of Hope and Crosby was given the role of national chairman of the telethon's sports committee.

 

"Never before," noted Brundage, himself a former Olympic athlete, "did a team have the entire country behind it as did the one that went to Helsinki."

 

B&WJohnny2.jpg"I can't think of a more united effort in all of Hollywood history than that one day," says Johnny Grant, a veteran broadcaster who was on the stage at the El Capitan. "Now during the war, World War II, Hollywood was certainly united, but I meant for a sports event or something other than the war, this was the day."

 

Known as the honorary mayor of Hollywood, Grant helped telethon producer Norman Blackburn round up star power to appear. The stars appeared for free, drawn to the telethon because the Hollywood community had decided America's athletes were going to the Olympics.

 

"Hollywood had made up its mind that they were going to go," Grant says, "and when Hollywood makes up its mind, look out. The floodgates are open. When the whole community gets behind a project, there's nothing they can't do."

 

The stars lined up behind the telethon. Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. Spike Jones and his orchestra. Humphrey Bogart. Marilyn Monroe. George Burns and Gracie Allen. June Allyson. Eddie "Rochester" Anderson. Rosemary Clooney. Joan Crawford. Tony Curtis. Janet Leigh. Zsa Zsa Gabor. Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Margaret O'Brien. Edgar Bergen. Tex Ritter. Edward G. Robinson. Frank Sinatra. Ed Sullivan. Johnny Weismuller. The list goes on and on.

 

bingcrosby12.jpg"I'm sure Bob got on the phone and called some of these people himself," Grant says. "Bob Hope could pick up the phone and get anybody. So could Bing." Perhaps the biggest coup of the telethon was in getting Crosby to appear on television. Crosby already has turned down several well-paying opportunities to appear on television.

 

"This is one time I couldn't refuse," Crosby said. "I think every American should get behind our Olympic team and send our athletes across at full strength; and in the finest style possible. We've got to show those Reds up."

 

The 1952 Olympics were the first ones that pitted Americans against Soviets, and the Communists were heading to the Games predicting victory.

 

BobHope52.jpg"I guess old Joe Stalin thinks he's going to show up our soft, capitalistic America," said the British-born Hope, who would be fondly remembered after his death in 2003 at 100 for the years he spent entertaining American troops overseas. "We've got to cut him down to size. This is the most exciting thing I've ever undertaken - and brother, Bing and I are going to throw our best punches."

 

Hope put his joke writers to work coming up with new material for the telethon. Owners of movie theaters rightly feared the telethon with its promise of so many big names would hurt their business.

 

Gossip columnist Hedda Hopper wrote the telethon was, "a brilliant night for everyone concerned except the motion picture industry and the theaters that show our films."

 

In Los Angeles, where the telethon began at 8 p.m., business was off by 10 to 15 percent. The Hollywood Reporter said business was off as much as 40 percent at some theaters and the box office take was down by $2.5 million. An estimated 50 million people watched the Olympic Telethon, which began Saturday, June 21, at 11 p.m. Eastern Time and ended at 1:30 p.m. Sunday. In a move that would later come back to hurt the telethon, the show began with an appeal from California Gov. Earl Warren to raise $555,555 to send the 332 Americans to Helsinki.

 

B&WJohnny1.jpg"They made one big mistake in announcing their goal," Grant says. "Because they reached it long before the telethon was supposed to end. "I forgot what the goal was but we had reached it and then many people said, 'Well, gee, I guess they don't need our money.' A lot of the pledges never came in because of that. I've done loads and loads of telethons since then and we never say what our goal is."

 

The Olympic Committee actually was looking to raise $850,000, both for the Helsinki games and to cover the cost of sending athletes to Norway the previous winter. Olympic officials always have had to beg for money and always raised enough to send their athletes to the Games, but typically didn't reach their goal until the last minute. It took the team of Hope and Crosby less than a day to raise the money.

 

"It was a magnificent job by all concerned and a special Olympic medal should be struck off for those two merry japers as a mild token of appreciation for the championship exploit they performed," New York Times sportswriter Arthur Daley commented. He also said that the telethon was a tribute "to the American public and the American way of life."

 

tvad1.jpgStruck by nationalist fervor, Americans opened their wallets. Soon after the telethon began, the figure on the tote board told of $7,000 in donations. By 3 a.m., that number had risen to $212,000.

 

Donations poured in from all over the country: Los Angeles. Pittsburgh. New York. New Orleans. Chicago. Milwaukee. West Palm Beach. The list of donors ran for pages in the Olympic Committee's annual report, which contained some famous names and their pledges:

 

Richard "Red" Skelton ($100). Ed Sullivan ($1,000). Lana Turner ($200). Tallula Bankhead ($200). Susan Hayward ($750). James Cagney ($850). Eddie Cantor ($500). Frank Capra ($50). Janet Leigh ($50). Jack Dempsey ($100). Kirk Douglas ($250). Groucho Marx ($100). Dinah Shore ($150). Skitch Henderson ($500). Jane Wyman Reagan ($100).

 

U.S. soldiers fighting in Korea, Brundage would later note, contributed more than $36,000 to send the athletes to Helsinki. For those soldiers, it was a personal cause; more than 20 percent of the Olympic athletes in 1952 were in the armed forces.

 

What complaints were voiced about the telethon were about its pace. The show was slow, interrupted frequently by the recitation of names of donors and pleas for more money. Hope joked that the telethon was "'Quo Vadis' with station breaks," and as "a career rather than a show."

 

Variety compared the Olympic Telethon to previous telethons and found it lacking. The Olympic fund-raiser "almost became a late-night siesta in the initial hours of some sorry routining, too many stage waits and dull wordage, and some inexcusable shoddy production and camera miscues."

 

The first couple of hours dragged, and were "short on sure-fire entertainment values," according to Variety. Hope and Crosby joined for a "Road to Helsinki" duet and called out names of donors, but the early part of the show was dominated by the likes of Brundage, Gov. Warren and familiar material. Bud Abbott and Lou Costello offered their "Who's On First" routine.

 

Jack Gould of The New York Times groused that he watched for 10 hours and Crosby only sang one complete song and opined that "the long show was something of a disappointment."

 

B&WJohnny3.jpgAccording to Gould, the telethon was staged more in the fashion of radio program than television with people working in front of a microphone. That limited the acts and placed the emphasis on singing and people playing solo instruments - Fred MacMurray came on with his saxophone - rather than on dancing and sketches. Although the telethon rousted the audience and brought in a fresh crowd every hour, attention to the stage naturally flagged.

 

"I remember we'd go out in the audience and have some fun because some people had fallen asleep sitting in the theater," Grant says. "We woke a couple of them up. It was kind of funny, their reaction on television."

 

deanjerry.jpgThe appearance of Lewis and Martin in the wee hours of the morning helped revive the audience, although Crosby fled the stage, fearing Lewis might knock his toupee off.

 

Grant says some of the stars who came by the El Capitan were there to perform. Others answered telephones or simply made pitches for money.

 

When all the pledges were counted, they amounted to $1,00,020. But not all of that money was going to come in. Figuring the Olympic athletes had more than they needed, many donors refused to honor their pledges.

 

Harry Henshel, co-chairman of the Olympic fund-raising committee in New York, said the sentiment was: "Now that you've got a million dollars, you're all set."

 

The bank in charge of collecting and counting the money estimated after the telethon it didn't expect to see more than $250,000 come in. The fund-raisers said the people who gave between $1 and $25 were more likely to live up to their pledges than those who had offered three- and four-figure donations.

 

"I didn't think we had that many welchers in this country," Crosby said. When the counting was done, the Olympic fund raised $353,000 from the telethon. After expenses, that left just $310,000. But that was more than enough - when combined with other Olympic fund-raising efforts - to send the athletes to Helsinki.

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Thanks for posting that backstory column on the Olympic telethon/A&C/Hope&Crosby picture, Tom.

 

And re the boys in "The Time of Their Lives" last night, I have to say I did enjoy watching a movie where Bud was used more as a "punching bag" than was Lou for once.

 

"Cute" movie, I thought, with good pacing and definitely one of their better films. 

 

I don't believe anyone in this thread has yet mentioned that the only other film in which their usual shtick was put aside for the most part was in LITTLE GIANT, also produced in 1946 and just before this film. And, just as in this film, Bud again played two roles, a mean guy and a more likable one.

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i only watch(ed) the stooges with shemp as a member; i liked larry also.

 

shemp was my favorite; and he was a very great actor on his own; unlike the rest of those others.

 

I'm sorry, but I suppose you'd have to be a die hard fan of A&C to appreciate this.  I used to like them when I was very young, but once I reached adolescence, I outgrew them, as I did the Three Stooges.

 

 

Sepiatone

 

i did not like curly at all; and those other two 'joes' were rather non funny.

 

i will still watch abbot & costello flicks; even though (imo) i thought bud was a real knob (perhaps off screen also).

 

You may have outgrown the Three Stooges as a team. But surely you are not saying that Curly can't still make you laugh

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I don't believe anyone in this thread has yet mentioned that the only other film in which their usual shtick was put aside for the most part was in LITTLE GIANT, also produced in 1946 and just before this film. And, just as in this film, Bud again played two roles, a mean guy and a more likable one.

That's right, Dargo. Little Giant was A & C's other film of 1946 in which they experimented by having Lou as a lead comic player and Bud in support, rather than featuring them as a comedy team. If memory (pretty vague, I admit) serves me right, the sentiment in this one was a little thick at times compared to Time of Their Lives.

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