Principal Cast : Whoopi Goldberg, Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Tony Goldwyn, Rick Aviles, Vincent Schiavelli, Gail Boggs, Armelia McQueen, Phil Leeds, Augie Blunt, Stephen Root, Bruce Jarchow.
Synopsis: After a young man is murdered, his spirit stays behind to warn his lover of impending danger, with the help of a reluctant psychic.
Although spectral spooks have often avoided Hollywood awards season (notable exceptions being The Exorcist and The Sixth Sense, in particular), there is one ghostly classic that doesn’t just stand the test of time but honours the legacy and status with which it’s regarded today. Ghost, a tale of love, loss, and the supernatural, was directed by Jerry Zucker and remains a testament to the power of great acting and romantic storytelling.
The story opens with Sam Wheat (Patrick Swayze), a successful banker deeply in love with his artist girlfriend, Molly Jensen (Demi Moore). Their life together is full of happiness and dreams until one fateful night, as they return home from a date, they are attacked by a street thug, and Sam is fatally shot while trying to protect Molly. Following his death, Sam’s spirit lingers in the mortal realm, unable to move on. He watches over Molly, tormented by his inability to communicate with her. Molly, grieving the loss of her beloved Sam, becomes isolated and despondent. She is unaware of Sam’s presence, but he refuses to leave her side. In his desperate attempts to communicate, Sam discovers Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg), a supposedly fraudulent psychic who can inexplicably hear him. Oda Mae, initially a sceptic, eventually realizes that Sam is a genuine spirit trying to communicate with Molly and she becomes his reluctant intermediary. As Oda Mae and Sam work together to unravel the mystery surrounding his murder, they uncover a web of corruption and betrayal involving Sam’s best friend and colleague, Carl Bruner (Tony Goldwyn). Molly, devastated by Sam’s death, also slowly forms a deep connection with Oda Mae, who delivers Sam’s messages of love and protection. With Oda Mae’s assistance, Sam and Molly must confront Carl and bring him to justice while protecting Molly from the danger he poses.
Ghost is an enchanting film that etches itself into the annals of cinematic history, and it all begins with the captivating performances of its leads. Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore, portraying the deeply in love couple, Sam and Molly, bring a palpable chemistry to the screen. Their connection is the heartbeat of the film, and it’s this emotional resonance that makes Ghost an enduring classic. Swayze’s portrayal of Sam Wheat is a masterclass in acting and storytelling. When Sam is tragically killed, he finds himself caught in the afterlife, desperately trying to protect Molly from impending danger. Swayze’s ability to convey a sense of love and longing from beyond the grave is nothing short of extraordinary. His journey to uncover the truth behind his death is a rollercoaster of emotions that keeps us engaged throughout. Demi Moore’s performance as Molly Jensen is equally powerful. Her grief and sense of loss are palpable, and she conveys the emotional journey of a woman struggling to come to terms with the untimely death of her beloved Sam. The chemistry between Swayze and Moore is the film’s emotional anchor, and it’s impossible not to become deeply invested in their love story.
The film would be half the classic it has become, however, without the magnetic and hilarious performance of Whoopi Goldberg. While you’d expect the love story between Sam and Molly to be the centrepiece of the plot, in reality it’s Goldberg’s Oda Mae who anchors the story, and is the viewer’s proxy within the film. Through Oda Mae, who is – let’s face it – a charlatan working the angle to prey on the gullible, and her sudden ability to actually commune with the dead, the comedic elements of the film’s more fruity aspects shine whenever Whoopi is on-screen. And boy, when she’s on screen, the film positively lights up. Goldeberg hoots and hollers through a sublime performance of depth and emotional heft, surprising (at the time) considering he chops as a comedienne. Her patter with a ghostly Sam is some of the film’s funniest, and most fun, moments, while the spit-takes and knowing winks at the audience as she spins through the film are pure Hollywood gold. Frankly, I never quite got Whoopi Goldberg as a younger viewer, I always found her a touch annoying for my immature tastes. But as I’ve aged up, I am now starting to greatly admire her skill at imbuing what might have been a stock, nothing character with heart and soul that magnifies and uplifts the rest of the cast around her. Of all the aspects of the film to be nominated or win at the Academy Awards, I feel her gong is easily the best choice.
The resultant success of Ghost is a testament to the collaborative efforts of its cast and crew. Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore’s remarkable chemistry on screen is a reflection of their strong off-screen connection, and this authenticity shines through in their performances. Whoopi Goldberg’s portrayal of Oda Mae Brown is a standout, earning her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Her character provides much-needed comic relief and serves as a bridge between the living and the deceased. Director Jerry Zucker’s skilful storytelling keeps the audience engaged throughout, and his ability to balance the film’s romantic and supernatural elements is commendable. The musical score by Maurice Jarre adds a hauntingly beautiful layer to the film, enhancing its emotional impact.
Ghost remains a timeless classic that tugs at the heartstrings and leaves an indelible mark on the soul. While the visual effects may show their age in comparison to modern standards, the exceptional acting, heartfelt writing, and captivating plot make it a must-see for any film enthusiast. The chemistry between Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore is a testament to the power of love, even beyond the grave. The performance of Whoopi Goldberg, meanwhile, is the glue holding this whole thing together, and she’s fantastic.