Thursday, October 11, 2012


Whoopi Goldberg and Patrick Swayze
So far we've talked about scary ghost movies and funny ghost movies. I thought it was time to talk about a romantic ghost movie. And they don't get much more romantic than 1990's Ghost, starring Demi Moore, Patrick Swayze and Whoopi Goldberg in a role that won her an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

Sam (Swayze) and Molly (Moore) are a young New York couple. He's banker and she's a potter. When Sam discovers a discrepancy at the bank, he confides to his friend Carl (Tony Goldwyn, currently so good as the conflicted  POTUS on ABC's "Scandal"). Carl offers to investigate, but Sam says he'll take care of it. Later that night, on their way home from a date, Sam is gunned down in a botched mugging. But Sam isn't gone. His ghost is still here, learning about his new found afterlife through a series of encounters with other earth-bound spirits, including a rather malevolent NYT subway ghost played by Vincent Schiavelli. While Sam is hanging around the apartment, his killer breaks in, looking for something. Sam freaks out the cat, scaring the killer away. Following the killer, Sam learns that he intends to return and kill Molly, if need be. He also encounters con-artist Oda-Mae (Goldberg), who has been bilking money from people by claiming to talk to the dead. Oda-Mae is freaked out that she can actually hear (though not see) Sam and thinks she's losing her mind. Sam convinces her that he is real and gets her to help him uncover why he was killed (and to contact Molly).

Molly thinks Oda-Mae is trying to scam her, until Sam tells her to tell Molly "Ditto," his answer to Molly's "I love you" and making a penny crawl up the door into Molly's hand. This leads to a weird scene in which Sam possesses Oda-Mae in order to kiss Molly one more time. Eventually, Oda-Mae goes to the bank and with Sam's help, scams them out of the $4M that (SPOILER ALERTS) Carl had been stealing all along (making her to donate the check to a church shelter in a particularly funny scene) and lays a trap to save Molly from the murderous Carl. With his murder avenged and Molly safe, Sam can move on, but not before materializing for one last ectoplasmic kiss.

There is a lot to like about Ghost, despite its often hokey romance. The special effects (especially the shadowy figures that drag people off to their unsavory rewards) are quite good for a pre-CGI film and then there's the sexy early scene that had women all over America running out to buy pottery wheels:

But it's Goldberg's comedic performance as Oda-Mae that makes Ghost so eminently watchable. She's hilarious here, and her Academy Award makes up for her snub for 1985's The Color Purple. Of course, the hopeless romantic in me always get suckered in by the love story. And Swayze wasn't too hard on the eyes, either.

Recently, Ghost was adapted into a musical which is still running in London's West End, but fared less successfully on Broadway, despite some amazing stage effects by illusionist Paul Kieve and new songs from Eurythmics' Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard:

Ghost  has become (for better or worse) a modern classic and I always find myself stopping to watch when I come across it while flipping through channels on my TV. If you've never seen it, it's certainly worth watching. If you have seen it, it's certainly worth seeing again. Especially if you're a hopeless romantic.

More, anon.

No comments: