Ghost (1990 film)

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Ghost (1990 movie poster).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jerry Zucker
Produced by Lisa Weinstein
Written by Bruce Joel Rubin
Starring Patrick Swayze
Demi Moore
Whoopi Goldberg
Tony Goldwyn
Music by Maurice Jarre
Cinematography Adam Greenberg
Edited by Walter Murch
Distributed by Paramount Pictures[1]
Release dates
  • July 13, 1990 (1990-07-13)
Running time
126 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $22 million
Box office $505.7 million

Ghost is a 1990 American romantic fantasy/crime thriller film starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Tony Goldwyn, and Whoopi Goldberg. It was written by Bruce Joel Rubin and directed by Jerry Zucker.[2] The plot centers on a young woman in jeopardy (Moore) and the ghost of her murdered lover (Swayze), who tries to save her with the help of a reluctant psychic (Goldberg).

The film was an outstanding commercial success, grossing over $505.7 million at the box office on a budget of $22 million.[3] It was the highest-grossing film of 1990.[4] Adjusted for inflation, as of 2013 Ghost was the 91st-highest-grossing film of all time.[5]

The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Score and Best Film Editing. It won the awards for Best Supporting Actress for Goldberg and Best Original Screenplay. Swayze and Moore both received Golden Globe Award nominations for their performances, while Goldberg won the BAFTA, Golden Globe, and Saturn Awards in addition to the Oscar.


Sam (Patrick Swayze), a banker, and Molly (Demi Moore), a potter, are a couple who move into a New York City apartment. At work, Sam confides to good friend and colleague Carl (Tony Goldwyn) his discovery of several accounts with unusually high balances. Carl offers to investigate, but Sam decides to research himself. That night, Sam and Molly are attacked by armed thug Willie and Sam is killed during the confrontation. Sam's ghost arises from his corpse, which lies next to Molly. He realizes that he is a ghost whose presence cannot be detected.

Sam stays close to Molly, who remains distraught at losing him. Carl visits Molly and persuades her to get some fresh air. Sam cannot bring himself to walk through the door after them, but Willie enters and searches the apartment. When Molly returns, the killer hides until Sam spooks Molly's cat, causing Willie to get scratched and flee. Sam follows the killer to his home in Brooklyn, where Sam hears that he will return to Molly's house. Before he returns to the city, Sam chances on the parlor of Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg), a charlatan medium who discovers to her shock that she has actual psychic powers when she hears Sam. Sam persuades Oda Mae to warn Molly about Willie. Although Oda Mae is initially able to convince Molly by citing things only Sam would know, Molly changes her mind after going to the police, who inform her of Oda Mae's criminal record as a forger and con artist.

Sam, after going to Willie's apartment again, this time with Carl, discovers that Carl laundered money for drug dealers and sent Willie to rob Sam to acquire his security codes so Carl could transfer the money to an account at another bank. Killing Sam was not part of the task though. Sam learns to interact with solid matter by willpower from an aggressive poltergeist (Vincent Schiavelli) he meets in the New York City subway. Sam persuades Oda Mae to thwart Carl's money laundering scheme. Following Sam's instructions, Oda Mae impersonates the owner of Carl's fake bank account, closes the account, and reluctantly gives the $4 million cashier's check to a church-related homeless shelter.

Carl, due to transfer the money to an overseas bank, becomes desperate when he finds the account empty. Sam taunts him by moving objects and making accusations appear on his computer screen, repeatedly typing "MURDERER" and "SAM". Carl visits Molly and declares to Sam that he will kill Molly unless the money is returned that evening. He and Willie then go to Oda Mae's apartment to find her. Sam gets there first and warns Oda Mae and her two sisters. As Carl and Willie ransack Oda Mae's apartment searching for the money, Sam separates them and torments Willie by throwing objects at him. Willie flees the apartment and is run over by a car. Willie rises as a ghost and is dragged into the darkness by several shadowy demons.

Sam and Oda Mae return to Molly's apartment to warn her about Carl, but she refuses to let Oda Mae in and breaks down in grief. Sam convinces her that Oda Mae is genuine and he is present by having her push a penny underneath the front door that Sam levitates in front of Molly. Molly lets Ode Mae inside and while waiting for the police, Sam possesses Oda Mae's body to share a final dance with Molly.

Carl breaks into Molly's apartment and chases Molly and Oda Mae into an abandoned apartment. Sam is too weak to stop him, as possession of a human body taxes a ghost. Carl takes hold of Oda Mae and demands the money, but Molly rescues her. Carl holds Molly at gunpoint, but Sam recovers and disarms him. Carl tries to escape by swinging a metal hook at Sam and climbing through a window. The hook hits the window and shatters the plate glass, then the window slides down to pierce Carl's abdomen, killing him. The shadowy demons that took Willie carry Carl's ghost away.

As Sam asks Oda Mae and Molly if they are all right, Molly realizes she can hear him. A light fills the room and Sam becomes visible to Molly and Oda Mae. Sam looks behind him and sees hundreds of people in a gateway. With his task completed, Sam says farewell to Molly, thanks Oda Mae for her help, then walks into the light, departing to the afterlife now that he is at peace.



The music for Ghost was written by veteran composer Maurice Jarre. The soundtrack also contained use of the 1955 song "Unchained Melody", composed by Alex North with lyrics by Hy Zaret, which appears in both instrumental form and the 1965 recording by The Righteous Brothers. Jarre's score was nominated for the 1990 Academy Award for Best Original Score, though it lost to John Barry's work for Dances with Wolves.[6]

The soundtrack album was issued on Milan Records (and licenced to Varèse Sarabande for North American release); it was subsequently reissued in 1995 with two extra tracks, and later as part of Milan's Silver Screen Edition series with the extra tracks and an interview with Maurice Jarre.


Box office[edit]

The film was a huge box-office success, grossing $505,702,588 on a budget of $22,000,000.[7][8][9][10] It was the highest-grossing film of 1990.[4]

Critical response[edit]

Ghost has received generally favorable reviews and has a "Certified Fresh" rating of 74% on Rotten Tomatoes based on reviews from 65 critics.[11][12][13] It has a score of 53 on the review site Metacritic, indicating mixed or average reviews.[14] The film has been criticized for featuring the Magical Negro stereotype with Oda Mae Brown.[15] However, in spite of this, Goldberg's performance was highly praised. Janet Maslin in her review for The New York Times 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."[16] Goldberg went on to win the Academy Award, BAFTA, and Golden Globe for her performance.


American Film Institute lists
Award Category Subject Result
Academy Award Best Picture Lisa Weinstein Nominated
Supporting Actress Whoopi Goldberg Won
Best Film Editing Walter Murch Nominated
Best Original Score Maurice Jarre Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Bruce Joel Rubin Won
BAFTA Award Best Original Screenplay Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Whoopi Goldberg Won
Golden Globe Award Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Won
Best Actor – Musical or Comedy Patrick Swayze Nominated
Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy Demi Moore Nominated
Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Lisa Weinstein Nominated

Musical adaptation and parodies[edit]

Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze, in one of the most famous scenes from the movie[20]

The film has inspired a musical stage version, Ghost the Musical. The show had its world premiere in Manchester, England, in March 2011[21] before transferring to London from June 2011 and having its premiere on July 19, 2011.[22] Richard Fleeshman created the role of Sam, with Caissie Levy as Molly and Sharon D. Clarke as Oda Mae Brown. The success of the West End production led to a Broadway transfer in March 2012. This run was short-lived however, closing August 2012. Subsequently, the original production closed on October 6, 2012. A national tour of United Kingdom launched in April 2013, with a tour of the United States also announced.

The pottery wheel scene is very well known[20] and often parodied, most notably in Saturday Night Live, Family Guy ("The Story on Page One" and "Baby Not on Board"), All's Well, Ends Well, Naked Gun 2½ (directed by David Zucker, brother of director Jerry Zucker), Loaded Weapon 1, The Penguins of Madagascar, Futurama ("Bendless Love" and "Bender's Game"), Community ("Beginner Pottery"), Victorious ("Survival of the Hottest"), Wallace and Gromit ("A Matter of Loaf and Death"), 6teen ("Unhappy Anniversary"), Ellen ("Alone Again ... Naturally"), Glee ("Girls (and Boys) On Film"), Bob's Burgers, and 30 Rock ("Governor Dunston").


  • DVD
    • Region 1: 24 April 2001
    • Region 2: 11 December 2001
  • Blu-ray: 30 December 2008

Japanese remake[edit]

In 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?).[23] The remake stars Nanako Matsushima and South Korean actor Song Seung-heon, along with veteran actress Kirin Kiki.[24] This time, the woman plays the ghost.

TV series[edit]

In November 2013, it was announced that Paramount Television is developing a television series adaptation of Ghost, with Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner writing the pilot.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cieply, Michael; Easton, Nina J. (1990-09-11). "Paramount Reels in Power Struggle After Hits, Misses". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-08. 
  2. ^ Honeycutt, Kirk (1990-07-13). "Director Leaves Laughs Behind to Capture Spirit of 'Ghost' : Movies: A suspense drama about the afterlife is the last film you'd expect from Jerry Zucker, one of the crazy guys who dreamed up 'Airplane!'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-08. 
  3. ^ "Ghost (1990) - Box Office Mojo". Retrieved 15 November 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "1990 Worldwide Grosses". Retrieved 15 November 2013. 
  5. ^ "All Time Box Office Adjusted for Ticket Price Inflation". Retrieved 15 November 2013. 
  6. ^ Clemmensen, Christian. "Ghost soundtrack review". Retrieved 24 August 2011. 
  7. ^ Broeske, Pat H. (1990-07-17). "'Ghost' Performing Solidly at the Box Office". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-08. 
  8. ^ Broeske, Pat H. (1990-07-25). "'Ghost': Sentimental Choice as Summer Hit". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-08. 
  9. ^ Broeske, Pat H. (1990-08-07). "'Ghost' Tops Box Office Again". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-08. 
  10. ^ Easton, Nina J. (1990-09-05). "Hollywood's Summer of Love : Romantic 'Ghost' Outguns Macho Movies to Become Season's Biggest Hit". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-08. 
  11. ^ "Ghost". Variety. 1989-12-31. Retrieved 2010-10-04. 
  12. ^ "Ghost". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved 2010-10-04. 
  13. ^ "Immaterial Affections". Newsweek. Retrieved 2010-10-04. 
  14. ^ "Ghost Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2014-08-17. 
  15. ^ Gabbard, Krin (2004). Black Magic: White Hollywood and African American Culture. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press. p. 154. ISBN 0-8135-3383-X. OCLC 53215708. 
  16. ^ "Ghost(1990)". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-03-19. 
  17. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-08-17. 
  18. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-08-17. 
  19. ^ American Film Institute. "AFI's 10 Top 10 Ballot". Retrieved 2014-08-17. 
  20. ^ a b Cox, Gordon (2009-03-06). "'Ghost' getting musical treatment". Variety. Retrieved 2010-11-08. 
  21. ^ "GHOST The Musical – About - Opening in Manchester 28 March 2011". Retrieved 2011-01-09. 
  22. ^ "Ghost The Musical announces Manchester dates pre-West End". The Stage. Retrieved 2010-11-08. 
  23. ^ Shiso (2010-11-14). "Japanese Remake of Ghost to Be Released in 5 Different Countries". Tokyohive. Retrieved 2011-03-19. 
  24. ^ Fischer, Russ (2010-06-09). "Paramount to Remake Ghost in Japan". Slashfilm. Retrieved 2011-03-19. 
  25. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (2013-11-12). "Akiva Goldsman & Jeff Pinkner To Adapt Movie ‘Ghost’ As Series For Paramount TV". Deadline. Retrieved 2014-08-17. 

External links[edit]