It Ain't Hay

It Ain't Hay is a 1943 film starring the comedy team of Abbott and Costello.

It Ain't Hay
Theatrical release poster
Directed byErle C. Kenton
Produced byAlex Gottlieb
Written byDamon Runyon
Allen Boretz
John Grant
StarringBud Abbott
Lou Costello
Grace McDonald
Cecil Kellaway
Eugene Pallette
Music byHarry Revel
CinematographyCharles Van Enger
Edited byFrank Gross
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • March 10, 1943 (1943-03-10)
Running time
80 min
CountryUnited States
Box office$1.6 million (US rentals)[1]


Wilbur Hoolihan (Lou Costello) accidentally kills a hack horse owned by King O'Hara (Cecil Kellaway) and his daughter, Princess (Patsy O'Connor) by feeding it candy. In hopes of raising enough money to replace it, he and his friend Grover Mockridge (Bud Abbott) visit a gambling parlor. They are successful in raising the money, but before they can purchase a new horse, a con man swindles Wilbur out of his cash. They are informed by some touts that an old horse is available for nothing at one of the tracks. They visit the track and mistakenly take the wrong horse, a champion by the name of Tea Biscuit. They present the horse to O'Hara as a replacement for his deceased horse.

The horse's real owner, Col. Brainard (Samuel Hinds), offers a reward for Tea Biscuit. By this time O'Hara has taken a fare up to Saratoga. Wilbur and Grover, realizing their error, drive to Saratoga. The three touts also realize that Wilbur and Grover took Tea Biscuit, and trail them hoping to recover the horse and collect the reward. Wilbur and Grover manage to find O'Hara and hide Tea Biscuit in their hotel room, but they are hounded by the house detective, Warner (Eugene Pallette), who was tipped off by the touts. Wilbur and Grover head to the race track in time for a big race. Grover makes a deal with Warner: for $100 he will give him the horse Wilbur rides. Grover then uses that money to bet on Tea Biscuit. Before the race, Wilbur is thrown off Tea Biscuit and lands on Rhubarb. Tea Biscuit, with a real jockey aboard, wins the race. Wilbur rides Rhubarb and loses. Warner and the touts take Wilbur's horse, which they believe is Tea Biscuit, to Col. Brainard for the reward, but it is the wrong horse. Grover holds the only winning ticket on Tea Biscuit, and uses their winnings to buy O'Hara a real replacement horse.



It Ain't Hay is based upon the Damon Runyon story, Princess O'Hara, which Universal first made into a film in 1935 with Chester Morris.

Filming of this picture began on September 28, 1942, and lasted until November 11. Lou's brother Pat Costello was used as his stunt-double in the "headless horseman" sequence.

It was during production, on November 6, that Lou's wife Anne gave birth to their son, Lou "Butch" Costello, Jr.


Fourth wall

There is a scene that breaks the fourth wall: Wilbur and Grover are in their apartment when someone knocks at the door. Grover says, "Go answer the door, it might be Warner." Wilbur answers, "It won't do no good, we're signed up with Universal." Abbott and Costello had a long-term contract with Universal Pictures at the time. Also, in the beginning of the movie, someone asks Shemp Howard's character why he's carrying an umbrella when it isn't raining. He answers, "Who knows? I'm a Damon Runyan character."

Home media

It Ain't Hay was released on DVD on October 28, 2008 as part of Abbott and Costello: The Complete Universal Pictures Collection. The film's studio-authorized DVD release had been delayed for many years due to legal issues with the estate of Damon Runyon.


  1. "Top Grossers of the Season", Variety, 5 January 1944 p 54.
  2. Furmanek, Bob and Ron Palumbo (1991). Abbott and Costello in Hollywood. New York: Perigee Books. ISBN 0-399-51605-0
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