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 Wheat, a banker and Molly, a potter are a couple who renovate and move into an apartment in New York City with the help of Sam's friend Carl. One afternoon, Sam makes the discovery of high balances in obscure bank accounts but despite Carl's offer to help investigate, Sam decides to investigate on his own. One night, while walking home, Sam and Molly are mugged by a street thug who pulls a gun. Sam struggles with the attacker and is shot, discovering moments later that he has died and become a ghost after seeing Molly crying over his dead body. Sam stays by a distraught Molly, trying to come to grips with his condition when Carl comes over and suggests they take a walk, but Sam cannot bring himself to walk through the door to follow. Moments later, the thug that mugged them arrives searching for something. When Molly returns, Sam manages to scare their cat into attacking the thug, who flees his mission. Following him to his apartment in Brooklyn, Sam learns the man's name is Willie Lopez, and that he was looking for something in Sam's apartment, and that he will return to find it later. Sam grows concerned about this and happens upon the parlor of Oda Mae Brown; a con artist posing as a medium who realizes she has an actual gift when she can hear Sam where no one else has been able to see or hear him since his death. He manages to convince her of the danger that Molly is in and to warn her. She is met by scepticism until she relays pieces of information that only Sam would know.

When Molly goes to the police, they don't find information on Willie, but they show her Oda Mae's record, convincing her that she is conning Molly, she demands Oda Mae stay away from her. She tells this information to Carl, and he and Sam go to visit Willie, but to Sam's surprise, Carl and Willie are working together and that he'd had a hand in Sam's death in order to obtain his book of passwords in order to access and launder the excess money from the bank accounts. Meeting a violent poltergeist on the subway, Sam manages to convince him to teach him how to manipulate objects physically as he cannot. After learning to harness this ability, he approaches Oda Mae and through "persuasion" advises her to withdraw the money in the fake name that Carl had set up, she then is made to give the $4 million to charity to prevent being caught. Sam tries to scare Carl away from Molly, but she lets it slip that Oda Mae was at the bank, and Carl pieces it together. Sam prevents Oda Mae from being caught by Willie by terrorizing him and sending him into oncoming traffic. Willie is killed by the traffic and his ghost is grabbed by creatures in the shadows that drag him into the ground screaming. Returning to the apartment, Sam manages to convince Molly that Oda Mae is telling the truth about him by floating a penny to her.

Oda Mae allows Sam to possess her body, so he and Molly can share a slow dance, but Carl interrupts them and Molly and Oda Mae flee onto the fire escape. Sam being too weak to fight him as possessing a body weakens ghosts. Carl chases the women to a loft under construction and catches Oda Mae, when Molly comes to save her, she is grabbed and held hostage. A recovered Sam disarms Carl and chases him toward a window. He throws a hook at Sam, which swings back and shatters the glass and as Carl tries to climb through the window falls, fatally stabbing him through his abdomen. Carl's ghost rises from his body and, as with Willie, he is grabbed by the creatures from the shadows and is dragged off screaming. When Sam asks if the women are alright, both of them can now hear him. A heavenly light shines in the room, illuminating Sam and they can both see him. Realizing that it is his time to go, he and Molly share tearful goodbyes. Oda Mae tells him that he is being called home and he thanks her for her help. Sam then walks off into the light and onward to heaven.



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 Two and a Half Men,[23] 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?).[24] The remake stars Nanako Matsushima and South Korean actor Song Seung-heon, along with veteran actress Kirin Kiki.[25] 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.[26]

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. ^ "Kutcher parodies Demi’s iconic ‘Ghost’ pottery scene". New York Post. 2014-02-28. Retrieved 2015-03-02. 
  24. ^ Shiso (2010-11-14). "Japanese Remake of Ghost to Be Released in 5 Different Countries". Tokyohive. Retrieved 2011-03-19. 
  25. ^ Fischer, Russ (2010-06-09). "Paramount to Remake Ghost in Japan". Slashfilm. Retrieved 2011-03-19. 
  26. ^ 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]