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
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
127 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $22 million
Box office $505.7 million

Ghost is a 1990 American romantic fantasy thriller film starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg, Tony Goldwyn, and Rick Aviles. It was written by Bruce Joel Rubin and directed by Jerry Zucker.[2]

The plot centers on a young woman in jeopardy (Moore), the ghost of her murdered lover (Swayze) and a reluctant psychic (Goldberg) who assists him in saving her although the psychic had previously been faking her powers.

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 2015 Ghost was the 93rd-highest-grossing film of all time domestically.[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 (Patrick Swayze), a banker, and Molly Jensen (Demi Moore), a potter, are a couple who renovate and move into an apartment in New York City with the help of Sam's friend and co-worker Carl Bruner (Tony Goldwyn). One afternoon, Sam discovers unusually high balances in obscure bank accounts, but despite Carl's offer to help investigate, Sam decides to investigate on his own. That night while walking home together Sam and Molly are mugged by a street thug who pulls a gun and demand's Sam's wallet. Sam struggles with the attacker and is shot. After pursuing the street thug, Sam runs back to Molly and—seeing her crying over his dead body—discovers that he has died from the gunshot and has become a ghost. Sam stays by the distraught Molly, trying to come to grips with his new condition, when Carl comes over and suggests Molly take a walk with him. Sam cannot bring himself to follow.

Moments later, the mugger enters the empty apartment and commences searching for something. When Molly returns, Sam scares their cat into attacking the thug, who flees. Sam follows the mugger to his apartment in Brooklyn and learns that the man's name is Willie Lopez and that Willie intends to return later to continue the search.

While walking back to the apartment, Sam happens upon the parlor of Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg), a con artist posing as a medium. But when she can hear Sam, she realizes she has an actual gift. He convinces her of the danger that Molly is in and that Oda must warn her. Molly is skeptical about Oda until Oda relays information that only Sam could know.

After Molly tells Carl about Oda Mae, Carl—unaware that Sam is following—then goes to Willie's apartment. There, to Sam's surprise, he finds that Carl and Willie are working together, that Carl had a hand in Sam's death, and that he had needed to obtain Sam's book of passwords in order to access and launder the excess money from the bank accounts. Under instructions relayed from Sam to Oda Mae, Molly goes to the police with Willie's name and address, but they find no criminal record of him—instead they show her Oda Mae's record and convince her that she's a con artist.

Meeting a violent poltergeist in their ghostly realm, Sam learns from him how to manipulate physical objects from within the spirit realm. Sam then approaches Oda Mae and asks her not only to withdraw the money in the fake name that Carl had set up but then to give that $4 million to charity. Sam tries to scare Carl away from Molly but she reveals to Carl that Oda Mae was at the bank withdrawing the money. Sam then prevents Oda Mae from being attacked by Willie, terrorizing the thug and then sending him into oncoming traffic where Willie is hit by a car and killed. As Willie's ghost is grabbed by creatures from the shadows that drag him 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, but Carl interrupts them and Molly and Oda Mae flee onto the fire escape. 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. Sam disarms Carl and chases him toward a window. He throws a suspended hook at Sam; it misses, swings back, and shatters the glass. As Carl tries to climb through the window, a sharp shard of broken glass falls, impaling him in the stomach. Carl's ghost rises from his body and, as Willie had been, he is grabbed by the creatures from the shadows and is carried to Hell.

Sam asks if the women are all right. Miraculously, Molly can now hear him. A heavenly light shines in the room, illuminating Sam in sight of both of them. Realizing that it is his time to go, he and Molly share tearful goodbyes. Sam kisses Molly one last time. Oda Mae tells him that he is being called home, and he thanks her for her help.

Sam then walks into the light and onward to Heaven.



The music for Ghost was written by veteran composer Maurice Jarre. The soundtrack also featured the 1955 song "Unchained Melody", composed by Alex North with lyrics by Hy Zaret. That song appears in both instrumental form and in 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 licensed 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.[7]


Box office[edit]

The film became an unexpected huge box-office success, grossing $505,702,588 on a budget of $22,000,000.[8][9][10][11] It was the highest-grossing film of 1990.[4] Box Office Mojo estimates that the film sold over 51.46 million tickets in the US.[12]

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.[13][14][15] It has a score of 52 on the review site Metacritic, indicating mixed or average reviews.[16] The film has been criticized for featuring the Magical Negro stereotype in the character of Oda Mae Brown,[17] although Goldberg's performance was highly praised. 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."[18] Even some writers who gave negative reviews of Ghost extended praise to Goldberg's work in the film.[19] Goldberg went on to win an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award, and a Golden Globe for her performance.


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

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

Musical adaptation and parodies[edit]

Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze, in one of the most famous scenes from the movie[25]

The film has inspired a musical stage version, Ghost the Musical. The show had its world premiere in Manchester, UK, in March 2011[26] before transferring to London from June 2011 and having its premiere on July 19, 2011.[27] 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 the United Kingdom launched in April 2013, with a tour of the United States also announced.

The pottery wheel scene is very well known[25] and often parodied, with examples occurring in In Living Color ("Ghost II: Sammy Davis, Jr.'s Spirit"), Two and a Half Men,[28] 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, and released by the same studio as this film), 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, 30 Rock ("Governor Dunston"), and Fuller House ("Save the Dates").


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


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?).[29] The remake stars Nanako Matsushima, South Korean actor Song Seung-heon, and veteran actress Kirin Kiki.[30] In this film, the ghost is a woman, played by Matsushima.

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.[31]

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 25 June 2015. 
  6. ^ Clemmensen, Christian. "Ghost soundtrack review". Retrieved 24 August 2011. 
  7. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Ghost [Silver Screen Edition] - Review". All Music. Retrieved February 20, 2016. 
  8. ^ Broeske, Pat H. (1990-07-17). "'Ghost' Performing Solidly at the Box Office". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-08. 
  9. ^ Broeske, Pat H. (1990-07-25). "'Ghost': Sentimental Choice as Summer Hit". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-08. 
  10. ^ Broeske, Pat H. (1990-08-07). "'Ghost' Tops Box Office Again". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-08. 
  11. ^ 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. 
  12. ^ "Ghost (1990)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 31, 2016. 
  13. ^ "Ghost". Variety. 1989-12-31. Retrieved 2010-10-04. 
  14. ^ "Ghost". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved 2010-10-04. 
  15. ^ "Immaterial Affections". Newsweek. Retrieved 2010-10-04. 
  16. ^ "Ghost Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2014-08-17. 
  17. ^ 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. 
  18. ^ "Ghost(1990)". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-03-19. 
  19. ^ Podgorski, Daniel (October 15, 2015). "A Ghastly Script: The Mediocrity of Jerry Zucker's Romantic Classic, Ghost". The Gemsbok. Your Thursday Theater. Retrieved February 20, 2016. 
  20. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-08-19. 
  21. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-08-19. 
  22. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-19. 
  23. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-19. 
  24. ^ "AFI's 10 Top 10 Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-19. 
  25. ^ a b Cox, Gordon (2009-03-06). "'Ghost' getting musical treatment". Variety. Retrieved 2010-11-08. 
  26. ^ "GHOST The Musical – About - Opening in Manchester 28 March 2011". Retrieved 2011-01-09. 
  27. ^ "Ghost The Musical announces Manchester dates pre-West End". The Stage. Retrieved 2010-11-08. 
  28. ^ "Kutcher parodies Demi's iconic 'Ghost' pottery scene". New York Post. 2014-02-28. Retrieved 2015-03-02. 
  29. ^ Shiso (2010-11-14). "Japanese Remake of Ghost to Be Released in 5 Different Countries". Tokyohive. Retrieved 2011-03-19. 
  30. ^ Fischer, Russ (2010-06-09). "Paramount to Remake Ghost in Japan". Slashfilm. Retrieved 2011-03-19. 
  31. ^ 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]