summer ghost

Banker Sam Wheat (Patrick Swayze) and artist Molly Jensen (Demi Moore) move into a New York City apartment in a slowly gentrifying neighborhood. At work, Sam discovers discrepancies in some bank accounts and confides in his best friend and colleague, Carl Bruner (Tony Goldwyn), who offers to investigate. Soon afterward, Sam and Molly are walking home from a night out on the town and become victims of a random mugging by armed thug Willy Lopez (Rick Aviles) who shoots Sam dead. Sam’s spirit arises from his lifeless body next to the distraught Molly, and he gradually realizes that he is a Ghost whose presence cannot be seen or heard. Fearing for Molly’s safety, Sam contacts Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg), a con-artist without psychic powers who poses as a medium but nevertheless can hear Sam, to warn Molly.
Bruce Joel Rubin’s screenplay is a superb hybrid of several different genres, blending comedy, romance, action, murder mystery, spiritual drama, and horror. Director Jerry Zucker gives each element equal importance and brought a remarkable tension to the film, not just from the action/horror devices but also in the balance between lighter comedic moments with heavy dramatics. Critics were very favorable in their assessments of the film, and audiences ate it up. Action fans were pleased by the horror storyline and murder plot; young couples made it a hugely successful date movie; Goldberg lured in moviegoers looking for comedy. Made for a relatively modest $22 million, the film became a worldwide hit, grossing $250 million in the U.S. alone and a half billion dollars globally.

It may be a stretch to claim that the four lead actors do their best work here, but the film did represent the coalescence of their movie personae. Swayze was everything you wanted in a leading man – handsome, heroic, tender, concerned, loyal, while Moore revealed a softer side than the usual tough nut characters she usually played allowed her to show. Goldberg’s fake psychic act is funny enough, but it becomes hilarious that, omigosh, she can indeed talk to the dead. Goldberg won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, while Rubin won the Oscar for Original Screenplay. (It was also nominated for Best Picture, Film Editing and Original Music Score).


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