Blackbeard's Ghost theatrical poster
|Directed by||Robert Stevenson|
|Written by||Ben Stahl (book)
|Music by||Robert F. Brunner|
|Editing by||Robert Stafford|
|Studio||Walt Disney Productions|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Distribution|
|Release dates||February 8, 1968|
|Running time||106 mins.|
Blackbeard's Ghost is a 1968 live-action fantasy comedy Disney film starring Peter Ustinov, Dean Jones, and Suzanne Pleshette, directed by Robert Stevenson. It is based upon the novel of the same name by Ben Stahl and was shot at the Walt Disney Studios. The Disney Channel aired this film until the late 1990s.
Steve Walker (Dean Jones) arrives in a New England seacoast town to take the position of track coach at Godolphin College. The night of his arrival coincides with a charity bazaar at the hotel where he will be boarding — Blackbeard's Inn, named after the notorious English pirate Captain Edward Teach and now run by the Daughters of the Buccaneers, elderly descendants of the pirate's crew. The owners are attempting to pay off their mortgage to keep the inn from being bought by the local crime boss, Silky Seymour (Joby Baker), who wants to build a casino on the land. Steve quickly discovers his track team's shortcomings and runs afoul of the dean of Godolphin College, its football coach, and Seymour. He also makes the acquaintance of attractive Godolphin professor Jo Anne Baker (Suzanne Pleshette), who is anxious to help the elderly ladies save Blackbeard's Inn.
After a bidding war with the football coach at the charity auction, Steve wins an antique bed warmer once owned by Blackbeard's wife, Aldetha Teach. Aldetha had a reputation of being a witch, and bore a striking resemblance to Jo Anne. Inside the hollow wooden handle of this bed warmer is hidden a book of magic spells that had once been the property of Aldetha. Steve recites one on a lark, unintentionally conjuring up the ghost of Blackbeard (Peter Ustinov), who appears as a socially-inappropriate drunkard. His wife cursed him to an existence in limbo unless he can perform a good deed.
Steve and Blackbeard are bound to one another by the power of the spell, and only the very reluctant Steve can see or hear the ghost. As a result, Steve must deal with the antics of the wayward pirate while attempting to revive Godolphin's track team and form a relationship with Jo Anne. Steve is falsely arrested for drunk driving when Blackbeard attempts to drive Steve's automobile, steering it like a pirate ship. Because the arresting officer can't see Blackbeard (and because Blackbeard's erratic driving caused the cop's motorcycle to crash into a tree), Steve spends a night in jail. Blackbeard goes in and out of the jail cell, creating havoc for Steve. While in jail, Steve reminds Blackbeard that if he does a good deed, his curse will be broken. Steve asks Blackbeard for the treasure to help the Daughters of the Buccaneers save the inn, but Blackbeard admits that he spent all of the money. Steve decides not to trust Blackbeard.
Steve is released from jail the next morning, and the college places him on probation pending a win in the Broxton relays; if the team loses, Steve will lose his job. Blackbeard creates further complications by stealing one of the Inn's mortgage payments and betting it on Steve's track team. Blackbeard's intention is to use his ghostly powers to help Godolphin win the track meet, and then use the winnings to pay the mortgage in full. Steve is at first outraged by the pirate's interference, but he decides the greater good is to win the money for the sake of the Inn. He also accepts the pirate's help in shaking down Silky Seymour and his thugs after Seymour refuses to pay out the winnings from the bet.
With the mortgage paid, Blackbeard has performed his good deed and is released from the curse. After Steve has revealed him to the ladies and Jo Anne, Blackbeard bids them all a cordial goodbye and departs to join his former crew, leaving Steve and Jo Anne to pursue their future together.
Differences from the Ben Stahl novel
In the original novel, instead of a track coach, two teenage boys find the book that brings the ghost of Blackbeard back to Godolphin. In addition, Peter Ustinov portrays the pirate Blackbeard as a charming individual in contrast with Stahl's version of the character.
- Peter Ustinov as Captain Blackbeard
- Dean Jones as Steve Walker
- Suzanne Pleshette as Jo Anne Baker
- Elsa Lanchester as Emily Stowecroft
- Joby Baker as Silky Seymour
- Elliott Reid as TV commentator
- Richard Deacon as Dean Wheaton
- Norman Grabowski as Virgil
- Kelly Thordsen as Sheriff Ned Lamb
- Michael Conrad as Pinetop Purvis
- Herbie Faye as Croupier
- George Murdock as Head official
- Hank Jones as Gudger Larkin
- Ned Glass as Teller
- Gil Lamb as Waiter
- Alan Carney as Bartender
- Ted Markland as Charles
- Lou Nova as Leon
- Charlie Brill as Edward
- Herb Vigran as Danny Oly
- William Fawcett as Mr. Ainsworth, Bank Official
- Betty Bronson as Old Lady
- Elsie Baker as Old Lady
- Kathryn Minner as Old Lady
- Sara Taft as Old Lady
Blackbeard's Ghost received positive reviews from critics and audiences, earning a Rotten Tomatoes approval rating of 80%.
- "Blackbeard's Ghost, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Retrieved May 23, 2012.
- Blackbeard's Ghost at UltimateDisney.com
- Blackbeard's Ghost at the Internet Movie Database
- Blackbeard's Ghost at the TCM Movie Database
- Blackbeard's Ghost at allmovie