It Ain't Hay (1943) Poster


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Good Abbott and Costello
Russell Dodd5 March 2000
In this film, I think Costello wanted to add a bit more depth to his character. He is a taxi driver and Abbott is is pal. Costello inadvertently kills a horse and takes it upon himself to replace it. as Mr Warner, the bad tempered manager who keeps popping up in the film. The songs have been blasted but I rather like them.

There is real character to this film and a good atmosphere. There are many funny gags here and Eugene pallette is hilarious

I would of liked Erle C. Kenton to of directed more than just 3 Abbott and Costello movies. he directed some of 'Hit the Ice' too till he fell out with Lou and was replaced with Charles Lamont who said it would only be a one off!!! This is a very pleasing film for Abbott and Costello fans and the kids would love it too. They don't make em like this anymore!
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A Pair Of Teabiscuits
bkoganbing17 September 2010
Universal kept Abbott&Costello very busy during the World War II years. They made so many films one wonders when they had time to do personal tours and war bond rallies. One of the more unusual items the team made was It Ain't Hay which was taken from one of Damon Runyon's Broadway stories. You'll recognize some of the character names from Guys And Dolls.

Lou Costello accidentally kills Cecil Kellaway's horse. Kellaway drives a horse drawn cart in Central Park and Lou's guilt, plus the guilt laid on him by everyone else including Bud in a great scene, makes him buy a horse that some racing stable was selling.

Problems arise when Bud and Lou discover they have the wrong horse, the horse they were to buy was a dead ringer for the champion 'Teabiscuit'. The boys pick up the real Teabiscuit, but when they discover the mistake are determined to cash in on it.

The movie is plainly ripped off from the Marx Brothers A Day At The Races, but that doesn't prevent it from being funny. One definite weakness was that the musical score in the Marx film was a lot better than what Harry Revel and Paul Francis Webster wrote for It Ain't Hay. Still Leighton Noble and Grace McDonald handle the music end nicely and it doesn't get in the way of A&C's routines. And Eugene Palette as the villain gets a few laughs himself as he always does.

It Ain't Hay is not often shown and that's a pity. Catch it if possible and hope it comes out on both VHS and DVD.
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Excellent Abbott and Costello film!
robertshort_315 January 2005
The comedy team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello were in their prime in the 1940's (particularly the early 1940's) and this offering from 1943 is very funny indeed. Based on a Damon Runyon story "Princess O'Hara" (and featuring some of the classic Runyon characters such as Harry the Horse), it's been tailored for the A & C brand of comedy, and features some of their funniest routines (the "mudder & fodder" exchange, which was repeated in their later film "The Noose Hangs High"; stealing the horse, the climactic horse race scene, etc.) Like most of their early features (with the notable exception of the great "Who Done It"), there's also the mandatory songs - they are a mild intrusion, but on their own merit are quite good. (These song numbers were a stock element in the Universal comedies at the time, so you just have to tolerate them, but, like in the Marx Brothers comedies, they did seem to be there just to "pad out" the running time.) There's also a gem of a supporting performance by the great character actor Eugene Palette.

Unfortunately, "It Ain't Hay" is currently tied up in legal knots, which keeps it out of circulation at the present time. Due to this, it was not included in the great A & C collection released recently on DVD by MCA, nor has it been shown on television for many years. Hopefully these legal issues will be resolved, and this fine example of the great comedy duo's work will receive the distribution it deserves.
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It Ain't Hay (1943) ***
JoeKarlosi24 February 2013
Abbott and Costello are at their very best in this agreeable comedy. They play a couple of Manhattan taxi drivers with a fondness for a sweet young girl and her horse. Costello means well in trying to be nice to the animal, but his feeding it candy ultimately causes the horse to get sick - and die. So he and Abbott set out to make things right by getting a new horse for the girl, whose dad (Cecil Kellaway) runs a horse and carriage ride in the city. I know that synopsis sounds rather dramatic, but there is a lot of well-staged comedy between the serious moments. And Bud and Lou are as sharp in ever performing them. Some routines include: their classic "the horse eats his fodder", the boys getting swindled at a phony horse race outfit, Lou getting into trouble at a restaurant for not being able to pay his check, and other assorted gags. Third Stooge Shemp Howard also has a part, but the real fun comes courtesy of fat man Eugene Palette, who is the perfect foil for Costello's antics. As with almost all of A&C's movie of this period, there is some singing and dance numbers here; however, I find them to be rather entertaining and endurable this time out. *** out of ****
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A great movie I think .
thor-haven13 March 2008
As Youngster this comedy team became no.1 with me.They were the best at their craft.Another of their great movies was A/C Meet Captain Kidd. Iam looking forward to it's release,thank you for allowing me to express,my opinion.

How much I have enjoyed all A/C movies. Thank you much appreciated and keep up the fine job you people do. I am an avid fan of A/C movies. The collection I have of their movies is great to this point in time. Two of my real favorites are The Time of Their Lives and Pardon My Sarong. I also have some photos of them. Which I cherish very much.Eventually I hope to have all 37 of their movie collection.
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Rare A&C
Michael_Elliott26 February 2008
It Ain't Hay (1943)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

I can finally say I've seen every Abbott and Costello film. It took me a while but I finally track down a copy of this one, which hasn't ever been released on home video due to some sort of rights issue. In the film, Costello accidentally kills a little girl's horse so he sets out to get her a new one. After waiting so long to finally see this one it really didn't turn out to be anything overly special. There are still some good gags but nothing too classic, although an inside joke about Universal was pretty nice. The "horse eats its father" joke was a highlight as was another scene where the boys try to pull a fast one and sneak off without paying for their lunch. Shemp Howard co-stars but it's Eugene Palette who really steals the film.
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The "Lost" A&C film.
www112515 April 2011
I spent years and years searching for IT AIN'T HAY, as it was the only A&C film missing from my collection. I finally got it this past Christmas. It isn't one of their better films, but it's still Abbott and Costello, and very enjoyable. There are several songs toward the beginning of the film, but by the second half they tone down quite a bit, which helps the film big time. This film also features among the best versions of the "Mudder; Fodder" routine. Costello is particularly funny in this one, and also has a couple of moments where he shows what a great dramatic actor he could be. Like I said, it isn't BUCK PRIVATES or MEET FRANKENSTEIN, but it's still good old Bud and Lou doing what they do best, and that's good enough for any true fan.
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"Don't spare the horses!"
classicsoncall25 September 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I don't remember now who spoke the words in my summary line, but that might have been a good alternate name for this picture. As much as "Hold Your Horses" would have been, the original title before it got changed as a result of Abbott and Costello's war bond tour that was so successful that the film makers decided to honor the effort by stating that "It Ain't Hay"! That bit of trivia can be found on the Abbott and Costello Complete Universal Pictures Collection. Thought that was kind of cool.

So in the spirit of their comedy forerunners, The Marx Brothers ("A Day at the Races"), Abbott and Costello find themselves in a story involving a horse race and a wildly disparate cast of characters. Personally, even though a lot of reviewers here feel that Wilbur Hoolihan (Lou) killed the carriage horse Finnegan by giving him the peppermint candy cane, I prefer to give him the benefit of the doubt. After all, he was only trying to offer his equine friend a tasty treat, and by the way, isn't it a mother's prerogative to give a child some peppermint to relieve an upset stomach? Treating Wilbur like a murderer was kind of heavy handed if you ask me, his neighbors should have known better.

Among the bits presented in the story are the oft repeated mudder/fodder routine, along with Grover's (Bud) rhetorical insinuation that the ill horse Finnegan has forelegs in the front. The ever literal Costello takes the remarks and runs with them like no other comedy team ever tried to do before or since. And for the longest time, I thought the only horse that ever did a bedroom scene was Trigger in 1952's "Son of Paleface" with Bob Hope, but Finnegan manages one here before he cashes in his horseshoes.

Besides the antics of Bud and Lou, actor Eugene Pallette maintains considerable screen time as a bumbling efficiency expert who turns every one of his lemons into an interesting lemonade proposition for prospective employers. If you can, think back to the last time you had lunch at a diner and try to recall how much you spent. Chances are pretty good it was more than the four dollars and fifty five cents that Wilbur racked up for seven of his cronies in the restaurant scene!

I have to admit, the financial numbers got a little confusing when race time came around and you had all you could do to keep Tea Biscuit, Boimel and Rhubarb straight, but I guess that was all part of the fun. Also part of the fun were the musical Vagabonds and actress Grace McDonald singing a couple of tunes. But the guys making me cringe a couple of times were the energetic Four Step-Brothers. Every time the agile guy doing those splits landed I had to wince, especially when he hit the moving truck moving away from the dock. I hope they did that all in one take.
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A day at the races, de ja vu
weezeralfalfa1 September 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I titled my review after the 1937 Marx Brothers musical comedy of that name, which shows certain broad resemblances to the present film. As you might guess, this Abbott and Costello(A&C) musical comedy focuses on horses, both carriage and racing breeds. It initially focuses on a particular carriage horse named Finnegan, who is attached to a carriage driven by Irishman King O'Hara(Cecil Kellaway) or his teenage daughter Peggy(or Princess)(Patsy O'Conner). Costello is a friend of this family, but he gives Finnegan a piece of his peppermint stick. A few days later, Finnegan is down feeling ill. Costello gets some 'horse pills' at the pharmacy and tries to ram one down the throat through a tube. But, before he can blow the pill in, Finnegan blows it down Costello's throat, and Costello gives up. The horse soon dies, and everyone (including Lou) blames it on the candy! Lou wants to buy the O'Haras a new horse, but has no money. So, he and friend Abbott go to loan shark: Big-Hearted Charlie, who loans them $100., but at a usurious interest rate. He suggests they gamble on the horse races to get the money to pay off his loan, and directs them to phony horse race bookies, who cheat Lou out of most of his cash. Then, Lou buys a horse on the street very cheaply, only to find that it belongs to a policeman. A trio of touts then claim that a certain horse owner is giving away an old racing horse free. So, at night, they sneak there, and take the wrong horse, since the horse names on their stalls were switched. The have trouble with a suspicious Eugene Palette, but overcome his hindrance, and make off with the horse. They don't realize they took the famous Tea Biscuit until they read in the newspaper that this horse is missing. There is a $10,000. reward for the return of this horse, which the three touts plus Palette hope to collect. The boys hide Tea Biscuit in their hotel room! Palette snooped around, but couldn't find the horse in their back room. They get by Palette, hitch the horse to a carriage, and take off for the race track. Problems on the route have Lou riding the horse when he gets to the track. The horse throws him, and he lands on another horse: Rhubarb. He runs Rhubarb in the race, even though he is apparently extraneous. Tea Biscuit, running as Rhubarb, wins. Abbott, who bet $100. on Tea Biscuit, despite his presumed absence, is resigned to his loss, and tears up his ticket. But, after it's established that Rhubarb really is Tea Biscuit, Abbott finds the pieces of his ticket and is allowed to claim his winnings. Also, Costello gets the $10,000. award for bringing Tea Biscuit back. But, there's a problem. Palette already received a check for $10,000.? as his winnings. He gave the touts an advance on that. He blames Lou for this debacle, and wants Lou to give him the money he lost. Thus, we end with Palette chasing Lou around. Palette harassed Lou throughout most of the film, showing up wherever Lou went, having new reasons to want to kill him. Palette, of course, was very charismatic, with his great girth and bull frog-like voice. Thus, he tends to dominate the scenes he's in.

As in most of their early films, there is a romantic couple, here in the form of Leighton Noble and the striking blond Grace McDonald. Also, as was often the case, they served as singers for several songs. However, 13y.o. Patsy O'Connor led the singing for 2 numbers: the initial "Sunbeam Serenade", while driving her carriage, and the later "Old Timer", sung to Finnegan as he lay ill. However, the 2 main production numbers were mainly sung by others. Grace McDonald led the street-located "Glory Be", while Leighton Noble led the finale stage-bound "Hang Your Troubles on a Rainbow". Believe I saw Grace do a short tap dance in this number. She was the sister of Ray MacDonald: a professional dancer, and they used to perform singing and dancing together when young. Leighton was primarily known as a singer and orchestra leader, rather than an actor. Patsy O'Connor was the niece of Donald O'Connor, who was then costarring in a series of musical comedies for Universal....The Four Step Brothers also performed their novelty-styled tap dancing and other shenanigans in both major productions.

Shemp Howard, of The Three Stooges, was one of the 3 touts. He was often present in a small role in the early A&C films.....Prolific actor Samuel Hinds served as the owner of Tea Biscuit, whose name is a slight variation of that of the famous racehorse Sea Biscuit....This film is based on Damon Runyon's story "Princess O'Hara". , first made into a film in 1935. In the present film, Peggy O'Connor played the princess.

Despite it's frequent nonsensical highly contrived nature, I can recommend this film for those, especially kids, who like the boys' shtick.
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The Story of Tea Biscuit
lugonian28 May 2017
IT AIN'T HAY (Universal, 1943), directed by Erle C. Kenton, stars the popular comedy team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello in a horse racing story based on "Princess O'Hara" by Damon Runyon. Previously filmed as PRINCESS O'HARA by Universal (1935) starring Jean Parker and Chester Morris, this 1943 edition is a very loose adaptation to the Runyon tale, being more emphasis on Abbott and Costello than the title character of Princess O'Hara, here played by an appealing youngster by the name of Patsy O'Connor.

The plot development introduces Princess Peggy O'Hara (Patsy O'Connor) as a carriage driver of New York City giving a ride to Private Joe Collins (Leonard Noble) and his girl, Kitty McGloin (Grace MacDonald) as they go through Central Park. Peggy and her father, King O'Hara (Cecil Kellaway) are best friends with Wilbur Hoolihan (Lou Costello), a taxi driver, and his shiftless partner, Grover Mockridge (Bud Abbott). After Wilbur gives their horse, Finnigan, some of his peppermint candy, the horse becomes sick, with Wilbur being the only one who can cure him with a giant horse pill. Sadly, the horse dies, leaving Grover and Wilbur to make amends by earning enough money to buy the Princess a new horse. With one thing leading to another, such as unwittingly buying a police horse, three gamblers, Umbrella Sam (Shemp Howard), a "Damon Runyon" character, Harry the Horse (Eddie Quillan) and Chauncey the Eye (David Hacker), the dual go to the upstate stables of Empire Track to acquire a free horse. Instead, Grover and Wilbur end up getting  Tea Buscuit, the world's famous racehorse belonging to Colonel Brainard (Samuel S. Hinds), who offers $10,000 reward for its return. Realizing what they have done, and learning that King O'Hara has taken both horse and carriage to Saratoga with the stolen horse, Wilbur, along with Kitty, Joe and Wilbur, drive his taxi to Saratoga, followed by the three gamblers out for the reward, and encounter a tough efficiency expert, Gregory Warner (Eugene Palette), now hotel manager, whom they have encountered earlier on several occasions, to add to their troubles.

As in many Abbott and Costello comedies up to this point, production numbers are added for entertainment value, including those scored by Harry Revel and Paul Francis Webster: "The Sunday Serenade" and "Old Timer" (both sung by Patsy O'Connor); "Glory Be" (introduced by Grace MacDonald, sung by others, including The Vagabonds, followed by specialty skating acts by The Hollywood Blondes and tap dancing routines by The Step Brothers); "Let's Smile With Music" and "Hang Your Troubles on a Rainbow" (both sung by Leonard Noble). While Noble's character, Joe, talks about doing an Army show throughout the story, it's obvious what was intended for a grand finale became nothing more than a brief montage of deleted song numbers with more attention focused on Abbott and Costello with Eugene Palette.

An exceptional comedy with assortment of old and new Abbott and Costello gags and chase sequences, for being a horse racing story, it would be natural for them to include their famous "fodder and mutter" routine into the story. With Abbott and Costello being the sole attractions, Eugene Palette, the heavy man with the froggy voice, comes close in stealing every scene he's in. In fact, he's practically a running gag throughout the story, being everywhere involving the boys, including the cafeteria (look fast for Mike Mazurki as one of the burly bouncers), Colonel Brainard's stable, the Oaks Hotel in Saratoga, the race track and finally their confrontation at the musical show. Palette is certainly one person in this story who makes IT AIN'T HAY a viewing pleasure. The Sportsman's Club involving Big-Hearted Charlie (Andrew Toombes) and the double-dealing Slicker (Richard Lane) also ranks one of the funnier scenes in the story. There are a couple of sequences that come as a reminder of scenes lifted from earlier Marx Brothers comedies of both DUCK SOUP (Paramount, 1933) and A DAY AT THE RACES (MGM, 1937). Watch for it.

While Costello shows how he can excel in sentiment moments involving the death of the horse without making it hard to sit through, the only downside comes when a kid calls Wilbur a murderer. His acting is so bad and hard to sit through (though fortunately brief), it's a wonder how it passed through in the final print, unless  this kid happened to be related to someone in the production staff. Getting past this uneasy moment, the rest of this 80 minute feature is smooth racing right down to the finish line.

Although IT AIN'T HAY enjoyed frequent television revivals throughout much of the 1970s and 80s, it was reportedly taken out of circulation due to legal complications involving the Damon Runyon  estate, keeping the movie from ever being issued on video cassette or DVD. By 2008, the rights were resolved and IT AIN'T HAY has become available on DVD in all its glory. For Abbott and Costello, or even Eugene Palette fans, IT AIN'T HAY is well worth the gamble. (***)
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It's a shame
wpseffel21 August 2006
This film has not been restored and the Bud and Lou routines are great with perfect timing. One of their best routines are when they are by the race horse which is pulling the open carriage and Lou is briefed on the horse being a mudder and that the horse eats his fodder. The Step Brothers dancing scene is top rate and I haven't seen anything like it anywhere else. The Damon Runyon dialogue is great but because of the studios and family licensing differences, this film will pass into oblivion. What a shame this will be lost when so many would really enjoy it. The copies that are available are of such poor quality you really can't enjoy them.
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Passable A&C comedy
utgard1415 June 2017
Abbott & Costello meet Damon Runyon in this adaptation of his story, "Princess O'Hara." This is the second film version of that story, the first (and best) being the 1935 Chester Morris film. In what has to be one of the darkest beginnings to a comedy story ever, Lou accidentally kills a girl's horse. Feeling bad about it (you would hope so!), Lou and Bud try to find another horse to replace the dead one.

This is definitely more Abbott & Costello than Runyon. Pretty much every scene involves the boys setting up (frankly obvious) routines, trying to score a "Who's on first?" but coming up with a "What was that?" Still, it's pleasant and sometimes pretty funny. Good cast backing up the boys includes Cecil Kellaway, Samuel Hinds, Patsy O'Connor, Shemp Howard, and Eddie Quillan. The obligatory banal lovebirds for the romantic subplot are Leighton Noble and Grace McDonald. The movie's scene stealer is Eugene Palette. The best parts of the movie are the jokes that break the fourth wall, like when Shemp Howard is asked why he's holding an umbrella and says "Who knows? I'm a Damon Runyon character." or Lou's joke about Universal.
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Schmaltz alert!
MartinHafer18 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
'Schmaltzy' can best be described by excessively sentimental--to the point where it can be seen as sickeningly sweet. Despite the very positive reviews for IT AIN'T HAY, I am very surprised that none of them see the film as an example of pure 100% bonafide schmaltz.

Here is the plot--you decide whether or not it's schmaltz. A young girl (about 14) drives a horse-drawn carriage (hmm...what about child labor laws?). She adores her horse and everyone loves her--calling her "Princess". But, when Lou Costello accidentally kills the horse, the entire community is heart-broken for the poor kid...and Lou knows he must do something to buy the girl and her old granddad a new horse--otherwise, the girl will be miserable and they won't be able to pay their bills! When Lou DOES get a horse, he accidentally steals a famous race horse and gives it to Princess. But, when he learns the truth, the horse must be returned...and what is to become of this precious and precocious teen?! There's quite a bit more to the plot than this, but the bottom line is that Abbott and Costello played the sentimental card too often and the edginess of their material was missing--like it was a film just for kids or people who hate comedy. While some comedians have used schmaltz, there is a big difference between schmaltz and sentimentality. Schmaltz is when the sentimentality takes center stage and is THE substance of a comedy--and real comedy cannot be funny if there's schmaltz as the saccharine style of the film interferes with the laughs. This film simply chose sentiment over laughs again and again. One of the only really funny parts occurred at the very beginning, when Shemp Howard (a perennial in early Abbott and Costello films) is introduced.

Overall, the worst film that the team made up until this point. Too much singing, too much sentimentality and a "wacky" race towards the end that instead of helping the film to finish on a high note just came off as contrived. Sorry folks, this is one "lost" film that Abbott and Costello made that just as soon could have stayed lost--barely earning a 5--and that's being rather generous.

By the way, the rubber band joke at the end was a reference to WWII and rubber rationing--when rubber was as rare as could be since almost all of it was diverted to wartime use.
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