Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jerry Zucker
Produced by Steven-Charles Jaffe

Bruce Joel Rubin
Howard W. Koch
Lisa Weinstein
Lauren Ray

Writen by Bruce Joel Rubin
Starring Patrick Swayze
Demi Moore
Whoopi Goldberg
Music Maurice Jarre (score)

Alex North (Unchained Melody)

Release date July 13, 1990
Running time 126 minutes
Ghost is a 1990 American romantic fantasy thriller film starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, and Whoopi Goldberg. It was written by Bruce Joel Rubin and directed by Jerry Zucker.

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 medium (Goldberg).

The film was an outstanding commercial success, grossing over $505 million at the box office on a budget of $21 million, and was the highest-grossing film of 1990. It 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 talented potter, are a loving couple who move into a New York City apartment. At work, Sam discovers a major discrepancy in a couple of bank accounts (too much money) and confides in his good friend and colleague Carl Bruner (Tony Goldwyn). Carl offers to investigate the matter, but Sam decides to investigate himself.

Later that night, Sam and Molly are attacked by armed thug Willie Lopez (Rick Aviles) and Sam is killed by a gunshot during a struggle with Willie. Sam's ghost arises from his dead body, which lies next to the distraught Molly. He gradually realizes that he is a ghost whose presence cannot be seen or heard.

One day, Sam is alone at the apartment (testing his ability to walk through doors) when Willie comes in, looking for something. Sam is unable to stop the killer but spooks Molly's cat, Floyd, causing Willie to get scratched and flee. Sam follows the killer to his place in Brooklyn and hears that he will return to Molly's house. He also meets Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg), a local con artist posing as a medium and realizes she can hear him (not see him), although Oda Mae had been faking her abilities until then.

He persuades Oda Mae to tell Molly that she is in danger, but Molly is disbelieving and Carl later convinces Molly that Oda Mae is a fraud preying on her grief. Molly talks to the police about her concerns but they confirm that Oda Mae is a known confidence trickster with a lengthy record whereas Willie Lopez has none. Sam discovers that Carl was involved in a money laundering scheme at the bank and that the attack was an attempt by Carl to acquire Sam's security codes, so he could transfer the money from the many accounts to one at another bank.

He learns how to move solid objects by willpower from an aggressive New York City subway poltergeist (Vincent Schiavelli) he meets in the subway. He persuades Oda Mae to thwart Carl's money laundering scheme. Following his instructions, Oda Mae impersonates the owner of Carl's fake bank account, closes the account, and reluctantly gives its $4 million contents to a homeless shelter.Carl, due to transfer the money to a correspondent bank overseas, becomes desperate when he finds the account closed and empty.

Sam taunts him in the deserted office by moving objects and making accusations appear on his computer screen, typing MURDERER, then his name (SAM), making it repeat. 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 manages to get there first and warns Oda Mae and her two sisters, who quickly escape and take refuge in a neighbor's apartment. Sam uses his powers to separate and distract Carl and Willie, who are ransacking Oda Mae's apartment in search of the money.

Horrified by the experience, Willie flees and is killed in a traffic accident. Willie's ghost arises, sees his body, and is told by Sam that he's dead. A group of howling demons emerge from shadows of ordinary things and pull a screaming Willie into the shadows, while Sam watches in horror. It is implied they take him to Hell. Afterwards, Sam and Oda Mae return to Molly's apartment to warn her about Carl, but she refuses to let her in and breaks down in grief.

Sam finally convinces her that Oda Mae is genuine and he is truly present as a ghost by having her push a penny underneath the front door and Sam levitating it in front of Molly. Astonished, Molly lets Ode Mae inside and while waiting for the police, Sam uses Oda Mae's body to share a final dance with Molly.Carl arrives, prepared to murder Molly and Oda Mae, but they flee. Sam is left momentarily weakened, as possession wipes a ghost out.

In the storage room, Carl manages to get a hold of Oda Mae and threatens to kill her, but Molly comes to her aid and holds Carl off long enough for Oda Mae to escape his grasp. Carl grabs Molly and hold her at gunpoint for the money but is unsuccessful and as Sam recovers he is able to disarm Carl and attack him. As Carl attempts to flee through a plate glass window, he flings a scaffolding hook in Sam's direction which swings back and partially shatters the glass in the upper part of the window; the window slides down and kills Carl as he climbs out.

Carl becomes a ghost himself much to his astonishment and to Sam's grief. Sam then watches in silence as the shadowy demons arrive and drag a screaming Carl away into the darkness. As Sam goes to Oda Mae and Molly and asks if they are all right, Molly suddenly realizes that she can hear him. A heavenly light fills the room and Sam becomes fully visible to both Molly and Oda Mae.

Sam looks behind him and sees hundreds of people, presumably angels, in a portal to Heaven. His task is completed and he can move on. Sam says an emotional farewell to Molly, thanks Oda Mae for her help, and departs to the afterlife.


  • Patrick Swayze as Sam Wheat
    Ghost pottery wheel

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

  • Demi Moore as Molly Jenson
  • Whoopi Goldberg as Oda Mae Brown
  • Tony Goldwyn as Carl Bruner
  • Rick Aviles as Willy Lopez
  • Stephen Root as Police Sgt.
  • Vincent Schiavelli as subway ghost
  • Armelia McQueen as Oda Mae's sister
  • Gail Boggs as Oda Mae's sister


Ghost has received generally favorable reviews[1] and has a "Certified Fresh" rating of 81% on Rotten Tomatoes based on reviews from 44 critics. It has an average rating of 53% on the review site Metacritic, indicating mixed or average reviews. The film has been criticized for featuring the Magical Negro stereotype with Oda Mae Brown.[2] 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." Even some writers who gave negative reviews of Ghost extended praise to Goldberg's work in the film.[3] Goldberg went on to win the Academy Award, BAFTA, and Golden Globe for her performance.

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References Edit

  1. "Ghost". Variety. 1989-12-31. Retrieved 2010-10-04.
  2. 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.
  3. Podgorski, Daniel (October 15, 2015). "A Ghastly Script: The Mediocrity of Jerry Zucker’s Romantic Classic, Ghost". The Gemsbok. Retrieved February 20, 2016.