Saturday, July 10, 2021


Hello, Scared Silly fans! Boy, do I have some news for you: very soon, I'll be recording my first-ever commentary track! I'll be providing commentary on the Haunted House episode (aka The Haunted Castle) of THE ABBOTT & COSTELLO SHOW TV series, which is getting a 4k restoration from Bob Furmanek, Jack Theakston and team for release on both DVD and Blu0Ray from ClassicFlix!

Now, here's the deal: the crowdfunding campain to pre-order this set has been going on for a while now, but I just came on-board the other day, and as it stands, there are just two and a half days left to get a pre-order in (the campaign ends Mon, July 12 2021 11:30 AM EDT). If this is something you'd like, even though this will eventually be publicly, I highly encourage the pre-order route to ensure you have a copy reserved (especially since donors will receive their copies well before those who order from online or brick and mortar retailers).

Here are all the pertinent details per Bob Furmanek, straight from the Kickstarter page:

"Seventy years ago, on the morning of May 21, 1951, cameras rolled on Stage #1 of the Hal Roach Studios on what would ultimately become one of the most iconic television shows of all time.

I am thrilled to announce that we are working with TCA Television Corp. and the Lou Costello Estate to restore and preserve THE ABBOTT AND COSTELLO SHOW from the original 35mm camera negatives!

Season One includes twenty-six timeless episodes with classic comedy and dozens of great routines that still endure today, including “Who’s On First?," “Mustard,” "Slowly I Turned,” and “The Susquehanna Hat Company." The quirky cast of characters include Mr. Fields (and his many brothers and cousins), Bingo the Chimp, Mr. Bacciagalupe, Stinky, Mike the Cop and their inexplicably cultured neighbor, Hillary Brooke.

Fans have enjoyed this great show for decades but have never experienced it as originally photographed by George Robinson - in crystal clear 35mm quality!

There are twenty-six episodes of 35mm picture and track elements in Season One which total nearly 120,000 feet of film. Needless to say, this is a VERY laborious and expensive project. The goal of this campaign is to secure enough pre-orders to ensure a break-even point. We need to guarantee advance sales of approximately 624 units for the first season.

We are asking you to pre-order now to show your interest and support. We are currently past the halfway point with our 4K scanning and this release will be in your hands no later than December 2021. The Blu-ray or DVD set would make a wonderful gift for anyone that loves vintage television and classic comedy!

The same creative team responsible for last year’s critically acclaimed restoration of AFRICA SCREAMS and our current work-in-progress restoration of JACK AND THE BEANSTALK will be collaborating on this venture.

Jack Theakston is Producer and Thad Komorowski at Cineaste Restoration is doing the digital image clean-up. Greg Kintz will handle audio restoration and ClassicFlix will be distributing the Blu-ray and DVD.

I (Bob Furmanek) was official Archivist for the Abbott and Costello Estates for many years and there is nobody better suited to the task of overseeing this project. Among my accomplishments were saving many of the original 35mm camera negatives from this series (some were nearly destroyed) and co-authoring the definitive book on their feature films, "Abbott and Costello in Hollywood" with Bud and Lou expert, Ron Palumbo.

Thanks to your very generous support through two recent Kickstarter campaigns, I have ensured 4K digital restoration and preservation of both AFRICA SCREAMS and JACK AND THE BEANSTALK."

I encourage all Scared Silly fans to click here to check out the full campaign link for more details on pledge bonuses, technical details, region codes, retail sales and more. And don't forget, you only have until Mon, July 12 2021 11:30 AM EDT to pledge and pre-order!

Now, please take a look at this short video wherein producer Jack Theakston gives you a preview of just how good this restoration will look... ENJOY!

Sunday, July 4, 2021


Bud Abbott Lou Costello

NOTE: This is an encore edition of a post I originally wrote in 2010:

Here’s a film that will be going into the “horror-onable mention” section of my book. It’s not a “horror-comedy” per se – it’s more of a fantasy-romance, but it does involve ghosts (albeit friendly ghosts) who take the opportunity to put a good scare in some folks as needed. For me, Abbott & Costello’s “The Time of Their Lives” is every bit as classic a movie as “Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein;” even if it has more in common with “Topper.”

It’s also tied into the American Revolution, hence this post falling on America’s Independence Day. The film’s script is very well written. It tells the tale of Horatio Prim (Costello), a bumbling but masterful tinker in 1780 who longs to marry Nora, the housemaid of wealthy estate owner Tom Danbury. To that end, Horatio procures a letter of commendation from General George Washington in hopes of obtaining permission to marry Nora from Tom. Unfortunately, Horatio has a rival for Nora in butler Cuthbert (Abbott), who causes him trouble no end. But the real trouble comes from Danbury himself, who is secretly a traitor out to aid Benedict Arnold. Both Nora and Danbury’s fiancé, Melody (the luminous Marjorie Reynolds) learn of Danbury’s plot. Nora is captured and Danbury confiscates the commendation letter from her (she had been holding it for Horatio) and hides it in the mantelpiece clock, but Melody manages to escape on horseback in an effort to warn George Washington. She soon encounters Horatio, and the two are framed as traitors, executed and dumped into a well.

It’s here that the fantasy element kicks in. Horatio and Melody are now ghosts who haunt the grounds of the estate and will continue to do so until they can prove their innocence. They just need to somehow get the letter into the hands of the authorities who can rewrite the history books so the truth can be known. This becomes a more hopeful quest 166 years later when the estate is restored to its original condition, and that includes the original furniture. When the restoration is complete, the new owner invites some guests for the weekend to celebrate. Among the guests are psychiatrist Dr. Ralph Greenway, a descendent of Cuthbert (also played by Abbott). Horatio and Melody decide to have some fun “scaring” the guests. Horatio takes particular delight in spooking Greenway. A séance is held wherein the identity of the ghosts and their plight is revealed, resulting in the living doing what they can to help set Horatio and Melody free.

The film has grown in status over the years and has quite a following (and may have even inspired a line in the classic Gordon Lightfoot song, "If You Could Read My Mind"). In fact, while embraced by many Bud & Lou fans, it’s also been touted as “the Abbott & Costello movie for people who hate Abbott & Costello movies.” This is due to the exceptional dramatic acting of both Lou and Bud that full-bloodedly brings their well-written roles to life. They are both so good in this that it’s hard to say whether one outshines the other (although I might give the slight edge to Abbott whose rarely used talent for character acting is on full display here). It stands out from the majority of the team’s other films which primarily feature a variation on their con man/patsy burlesque characters. It’s one of the few films where the team stretched beyond their usual archetypes and managed to pull it off (for examples where this departure from the norm didn’t work in my opinion, catch “Little Giant” and “Dance With Me Henry.” Or don’t). It also includes a wonderful supporting cast, including horror-comedy stalwart Gale Sondergaard as the maid of the restored estate who definitely believes in ghosts. And it features beautiful sets, wonderful costume designs and marvelous special effects - a top-notch production all around.

If you haven't guessed by now, I consider "The Time of Their Lives" a wonderful film to watch on Independence Day... or any day, for that matter! Here’s the trailer for your enjoyment: