40. Ghost

Movie: Ghost

Release Date: July 13, 1990

Director: Jerry Zucker

Starring: Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg. Tony Goldwyn.

Tag Lines: “A love that will last forever.”

“Before Sam was murdered he told Molly he’d love and protect her forever.”

“You will believe.”

Relevance: In the summer of 1990, I had just finished my first year of college and more importantly just witnessed Madonna’s “Blond Ambition Tour” from the front row. Life was damn good. I was on a Madonna high pretty much that entire summer until I had to head back to school. During those months I worked, listened to Madonna, hung out with friends, talked about Madonna and went to the movies. ‘Ghost’ was one such movie.

I have mentioned a few times on this blog that I dated one girl off and on through my high school career. She was sweet and nice enough, but I was never really into her. One would think that was because I was gay, but one would be wrong. No real gay thoughts entered my frame of mind for years yet. I was more asexual at the time. I just enjoyed life and didn’t concern myself with any type of sexual thoughts or conversations with myself. I know for sure that was one of the many reasons I adored Madonna so much. She was brazen about her sexuality and not afraid to express herself regardless of the negative criticism constantly being hurled her way. Brave, ironic, unadulterated and completely entertaining, Madonna consumed my life and I lived vicariously through her and her art.

The girl I was on again, off again dating for four years was supposed to go with me to Madonna’s concert in June but at the last minute backed down. I am not exactly sure why. Soon after this we started an “off” again phase, but I was undeterred. I was going to see Madonna. She wasn’t. Her loss. I called one of my very best friend’s from college, one that eventually became my wife, and we traveled to Philadelphia to witness the queen live on stage. It was miraculous. The following week I remember telling my now “ex” girlfriend all about the show and still thinking, you could have been there bitch, though never vocalizing it. Despite us not being a “couple” we still saw a lot of each other as we shared the same group of friends.

When ‘Ghost’ opened in theaters in July of that year, although receiving mixed reviews it became a huge summer blockbuster. It eventually went on to become the highest grossing film of 1990. Having Whoopi Goldberg in the cast was definitely a draw, as I adored her, but I was not one of the first people to flock to the theater to check it out. My then “ex” girlfriend had seen the movie during its opening week and every time I saw her, that’s all she talked about. Incessantly. Either toward the end of July or early August, our group of friends went to see the movie. Because my “ex” loved the movie so much and never shut up about it, I went into the theater convinced I was going to hate it. Unfortunately I didn’t.

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, but because “she” sat next to me, I kept my reactions to a minimum. When the movie was over I told her it was okay but it wasn’t as good as she had been proclaiming for weeks. That only made her mad and solidified our “off” again status. In fact, we never went back “on” again. Although we did see each other from time to time over the next few years, life eventually happened and we drifted along our own separate paths. Despite my not-so-great review to her about the film, I praised it went I got home as well as when I went back to college. In fact, I went to see it again when it played as one of our weekly campus movies with my “Madonna future wife” friend.

When the film was released for rental in 1991, I rented ‘Ghost’ and watched it with my mom. By the time we rented it, the Academy Award telecast had already aired where despite it receiving mixed reviews from critics it was nominated for five awards, winning two. Whoopi Goldberg was one of the lucky winners representing that film and my mom was a huge fan of hers. She absolutely adored the movie and ended up loving Whoopi even more. It became one of my mom’s all time favorite movies, one that she eventually owned on VHS to add to her ever growing movie collection.

I also added ‘Ghost’ to my movie collection both on VHS and DVD when time allowed it. I have watched this film hundreds of times throughout the years and I never, ever get tired of it. ‘Ghost’ is one of my top ten quoted movies of all time. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t reference in some way, shape or form. “Sam Wheat?” “Can I keep this pen?” “Gas. I get a little gas from time to time.” The list can go on and on and most of the quotes are from the delightful Oda Mae Brown character portrayed by Whoopi Goldberg. ‘Ghost’ is a delightful tearjerker that will always be an important film for me that I loved right from the beginning even though I tried to hide it.

Today’s Thoughts: “I don’t want to go to Heaven, I want to go to the bank and cash a goddamn check!”

I sat down and watched ‘Ghost’ with my husband, who is someone that likes the movie but not near the level that I do. He loves Whoopi, but he always says he doesn’t think her performance was Oscar-worthy. Despite his obvious lack in taste, I love him and overlook his flawed views on cinema. With that said we both said and watched ‘Ghost,’ which made us both laugh and cry.

Jerry Zucker, known more for his comedic collaborations with his brother on such gems like ‘Top Secret!’ and ‘Ruthless People’ (see 309. Top Secret! and 248. Ruthless People) as well as countless others, beautifully directs this dramatic fantasy about the hereafter. It helped that he had a fantastic Academy Award winning screenplay by Bruce Joel Rubin as well as a top notch cast in the likes of Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg and Tony Goldwyn. All of them are at the top of their game. I know this movie inside and out yet I am always moved to tears and always, always laugh out loud. It is such a joy.

‘Ghost’ is sure to become regarded a classic one day. The “ghostly” effects may be waning due to its now thirty year existence, but its story is timeless. Love never dies. Simple, yes. But very true and never before has it been so gorgeously portrayed on film. Watch. This. Movie! If not for the romance, for Demi’s exquisite tears, Whoopi’s humor and Tony Goldwyn’s shirtless scenes.

Awards: Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Whoopi Goldberg (winner), Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, Bruce Joel Rubin (winner), Academy Award for Best Picture (nomination), Academy Award for Best Film Editing, Walter Murch (nomination), Academy Award for Best Music, Original Score, Maurice Jarre (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture, Whoopi Goldberg (winner), Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, Demi Moore (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, Patrick Swayze (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Whoopi Goldberg (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Make Up Artist, Ben Nye III (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay – Original, Bruce Joel Rubin (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Special Visual Effects (nomination), Writers Guild of America Award for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, Bruce Joel Rubin (nomination).

Ways to Watch: Pluto TV, YouTube, fuboTV, Amazon Prim, Philo, Google Play, Vudu, iTunes, AMC, DVD Availability.

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