Ghost (1990 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jerry Zucker|
|Produced by||Lisa Weinstein|
|Written by||Bruce Joel Rubin|
|Music by||Maurice Jarre|
|Edited by||Walter Murch|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$505.7 million|
Ghost is a 1990 American romantic fantasy thriller film directed by Jerry Zucker, written by Bruce Joel Rubin, and starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg, Tony Goldwyn, and Rick Aviles. The plot centers on Sam Wheat (Swayze), a murdered banker whose ghost sets out to save his girlfriend from the person who killed him. Ghost was theatrically released on July 13, 1990, by Paramount Pictures. The film received mixed reviews from the critics but was a huge box office success, grossing over $505 million on a budget of $22 million to become the highest-grossing film of 1990 and at the time of its release the third-highest-grossing film of all time. Adjusted for inflation, as of 2015[update] Ghost is the 93rd-highest-grossing film of all time. Despite mixed reviews, the film received five nominations at the 63rd Academy Awards; Best Picture, Best Original Score, Best Film Editing, and winning Best Supporting Actress (for Goldberg) and Best Original Screenplay.
Sam Wheat, a banker, and his girlfriend Molly Jensen, a potter, renovate and move into an apartment in Manhattan with the help of Sam's friend and co-worker Carl Bruner. One afternoon, Sam confides in Carl his discovery of unusually high balances in obscure bank accounts. He decides to investigate the matter himself, declining Carl's offer of assistance. That night, Sam and Molly are attacked by a mugger who shoots and kills Sam in a scuffle before stealing his wallet. Sam sees Molly crying over his body and discovers he is now a ghost, invisible and unable to interact with the mortal world.
Molly is distraught in the days after Sam's death, as Sam remains close to her. Carl comes over and suggests Molly take a walk with him; Sam, unable to follow, stays behind. Moments later, the mugger enters the apartment in search of something. When Molly returns, Sam scares their cat into attacking the thug, who flees. Sam follows the mugger to his Brooklyn apartment and learns that the man, Willie Lopez, was sent by an unknown party.
After leaving Willie's residence, Sam happens upon the parlor of psychic Oda Mae Brown, a charlatan pretending to commune with spirits of the dead who is shocked to discover her true psychic gift when she can hear Sam speaking. Sam persuades her to warn Molly that she is in danger. To allay Molly's skepticism, Oda Mae relays information that only Sam could know. Molly later gives Willie's address to Carl, who volunteers to investigate. She then goes to the police, who have no file for Willie but they show her Oda Mae's lengthy one as a forger and con artist.
Meanwhile, Sam follows Carl and is devastated to learn he and Willie are working together. Carl is laundering money for drug dealers and he had Willie rob Sam to get his apartment key, which Carl uses to obtain Sam's book of passwords, and transfer the money into a single account under the fictitious name "Rita Miller".
Sam learns from a violent poltergeist haunting the subway system how to use energy to move objects. Sam then persuades Oda Mae to help him thwart Carl. Before Carl can transfer the money for his clients, Oda Mae impersonates Rita Miller, closes the account, and reluctantly donates the $4 million cashier's check to charity. As Carl desperately searches for the money, Sam reveals his presence by typing his name on the computer keyboard. Carl goes to Molly, who reveals she spotted Oda Mae closing an account at the bank. Carl and Willie go to Oda Mae's place but Sam warns her and her sisters to take shelter. When Willie arrives, Sam spooks him, causing him to flee into the street in a fit of panic before being struck and killed by an oncoming car. Shadowy demons emerge from the darkness to drag Willie's ghost down to Hell.
Sam and Oda Mae return to the apartment where—by levitating a penny into Molly's hand—he convinces Molly that Oda Mae is telling the truth about him. Oda Mae allows Sam to possess her body so he and Molly can share a slow dance. Carl breaks into the apartment but Sam is too exhausted from the possession to fight Carl. The women escape onto the fire escape, to a loft under construction, but Carl catches Oda Mae and holds her at gunpoint, demanding the check. Sam recovers and pushes Carl off her, prompting Carl to take Molly hostage and plead with Sam for the check. Sam disarms Carl and attacks him again. Carl tries to escape through a window and tosses a suspended hook at Sam, but the hook swings back, shattering the window and causing it to slide down, fatally impaling Carl with a glass shard. The shadowy demons who came for Willie return to claim Carl's ghost for Hell.
Sam asks if the women are all right. Molly is now able to hear him and a heavenly light shines in the room, illuminating Sam's presence. Realizing that it is time for him to go with his task now completed, he and Molly share a tearful goodbye and one final kiss, finally having a proper closure between them. Sam thanks Oda Mae for her help and then walks into the light and onward to Heaven.
- Patrick Swayze as Sam Wheat
- Demi Moore as Molly Jensen
- Whoopi Goldberg as Oda Mae Brown
- Tony Goldwyn as Carl Bruner
- Rick Aviles as Willie Lopez
- Vincent Schiavelli as Subway Ghost
- Gail Boggs as Oda Mae's Sister, Louise
- Armelia McQueen as Oda Mae's Sister, Clara
- Phil Leeds as Emergency Room Ghost
- Augie Blunt as Orlando
- Stephen Root as Police Sgt
- Bruce Jarchow as Lyle Ferguson
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Ghost was the first film Jerry Zucker directed on his own. He had previously been part of the Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker directing team, known for their screwball comedies. Zucker stated that his decision to direct Ghost was not made to distance himself from comedies or to mark a new chapter in his career, but was merely “just looking for a good film to direct."
Screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin was initially apprehensive when he learned that Zucker intended to direct the film, as his initial drafts were much darker and he feared Zucker would try to turn the film into a comedy. But after a meeting with Zucker, Rubin realized that he had nothing to worry about and the two collaborated on further drafts of the script. Some humor was ultimately added, but Zucker's main contribution was increasing the story's pacing, as his time as a comedy director had instilled in him a keen understanding of pace. Zucker credited arguments from radio host Dennis Prager with deciding to "lighten" Rubin's original script with a moral message.
Rubin noted that he "wanted to tell a ghost story from the ghost’s perspective": “One day, I was watching a production of ‘Hamlet,’ which begins with the ghost of Hamlet's father saying, ‘Revenge my death,’” he recalled. “I thought, ‘Wow, let’s transpose that into the 20th century; it’d be an interesting story.’ And the idea hit me.”
Filming for Ghost began shooting in July 1989. Most of the interior scenes were shot at Paramount in Los Angeles while the exterior scenes were shot in New York City, particularly in Bedford–Stuyvesant, Soho, and Wall Street, for about five weeks. The film features about 100 special effects shots. Demi Moore's famous 'boy cut' in the movie was designed by Manhattan hair stylist John Sahag.
The music for Ghost was written by veteran French composer Maurice Jarre, whose work was nominated for the 1990 Academy Award for Best Original Score (won by John Barry for Dances with Wolves). The soundtrack also featured the 1955 song "Unchained Melody", composed by Alex North with lyrics by Hy Zaret. This was originally written for the film Unchained – a very different, low-budget movie about prison life. In Ghost the song appears both in instrumental and vocal form, the latter being the version recorded by Bobby Hatfield of The Righteous Brothers in 1965.
The soundtrack album was issued worldwide on Milan Records, but licensed to Varèse Sarabande in North America. It was reissued with two extra tracks in 1995, and later as part of Milan's Silver Screen Edition series with the extra tracks and an interview with Maurice Jarre.
The film became an unexpected huge box-office success, grossing $505,702,588 on a budget of $22,000,000. It was the highest-grossing film of 1990. Box Office Mojo estimates that the film sold over 51.46 million tickets in the US. It was the highest-grossing film of all-time in the UK surpassing E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial with a gross of £23.3 million. It was also the highest-grossing film in Indonesia at the time with a gross of $3.6 million.
Ghost has a rating of 74% on Rotten Tomatoes based on reviews from 69 critics, with an average rating of 6.88/10. The consensus states that the film "offers viewers a poignant romance while blending elements of comedy, horror, and mystery, all adding up to one of the more enduringly watchable hits of its era." It has a score of 52 on the review site Metacritic based on 17 reviews, indicating mixed or average reviews. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.
Roger Ebert gave Ghost two-and-a-half out of four stars in his review for the Chicago Sun-Times, regarding the film as "no worse an offender than most ghost movies, I suppose. It assumes that even after death we devote most of our attention to unfinished business here on Earth, and that danger to a loved one is more important to a ghost than the infinity it now inhabits." He was also critical of the film's "obligatory action climax", the "ridiculous visitation from the demons of hell", the "slow study" of the Molly character, and the "single best scene" in which Sam overtakes Oda Mae's body to caress Molly: "In strict logic, this should involve us seeing Goldberg kissing Moore, but of course the movie compromises and shows us Swayze holding her - too bad, because the logical version would actually have been more spiritual and moving." David Ansen of Newsweek, despite finding the ending too sentimental, praised the film as "a zippy pastiche that somehow manages to seem fresh even though it's built entirely out of borrowed parts." Variety magazine called the film "an odd creation – at times nearly smothering in arty somberness, at others veering into good, wacky fun."
Goldberg received considerable praise for her performance. In a review for The New York Times, Janet Maslin comments "Ms. Goldberg plays the character's amazement, irritation and great gift for back talk to the hilt. This is one of those rare occasions on which the uncategorizable Ms. Goldberg has found a film role that really suits her, and she makes the most of it." Even some writers who gave negative reviews of Ghost extended praise to Goldberg's work in the film. Goldberg went on to win an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award, and a Golden Globe for her performance.
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The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
- 2002: AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions – #19
- 2004: AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs:
The film was released on video and LaserDisc in the United States on March 21, 1991 and sold a record 646,000 videos for rental, breaking the record set by Die Hard 2, and a record 66,040 LaserDiscs. The rentals generated a gross of $40 million for Paramount. The video went on sale in the fall and generated sales of $25 million.
The film inspired a musical stage version, Ghost: The Musical. The show had its world premiere in Manchester, UK, in March 2011 before transferring to London from June 2011 and having its premiere on July 19, 2011.
The pottery wheel scene became widely known, and has been cited as "one of the most iconic moments of '90s cinema." It has also frequently been parodied, such as in The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear, the short British animated film Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death and US TV series Two and a Half Men.
On November 13, 2010, Paramount and Shochiku released a Japanese remake of Ghost, titled Ghost: In Your Arms Again (ゴースト もういちど抱きしめたい, Gōsuto Mouichido Dakishimetai). The remake stars Nanako Matsushima, South Korean actor Song Seung-heon, and veteran actress Kirin Kiki. In this film, the ghost is a woman, played by Matsushima. An unofficial remake of the film was made in Telugu language by name Aatma Bandham. A Bollywood Hindi remake of the film was also made in the year 1991 just after the original film released in 1990, the remake was titled Pyaar Ka Saaya starring Rahul Roy as the protagonist.
The film belongs to a series of films that present metaphysical or even spiritual experiences such as near-death experiences, after-death contacts, mediums' experiences no longer as fairy-tale fantasy, but as reality. The subject matter also includes films and TV shows such as Hereafter by Clint Eastwood (2010), The House of the Spirits (1993), Medium (2005-2011), Ghost Whisperer (2005-2010).
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