AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Ghost
Director: Jerry Zucker (Dir)
Release Date:   13 Jul 1990
Duration (in mins):  127
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Cast: Patrick Swayze  (Sam Wheat)
  Demi Moore  (Molly Jensen)
  Whoopi Goldberg  (Oda Mae Brown)
 

Summary: With the help of their friend, Carl Bruner, young couple Sam Wheat and Molly Jensen renovate a New York City loft and move in together. Late one night, Sam says that he fears something bad will happen, since his life is going too well. When she cannot sleep, Molly goes to her potter’s wheel and makes a vase. Sam joins her, placing his hands on the clay, and they make love. Soon after, at the financial firm where they both work, Sam confides to Carl that there is too much money in some of his accounts. Carl offers to investigate, but Sam says that he has changed his pass code for security reasons and will handle the problem himself. After seeing a performance of Macbeth, Molly and Sam walk home. Molly comments that she always tells Sam she loves him, while he merely responds, “Ditto,” and asks him to declare his love for her more often. Their conversation is interrupted when a mugger steps out of the shadows and holds Sam at gunpoint. Sam speaks calmly to the man, who becomes aggressive. The men tussle and the mugger’s gun goes off, killing Sam. As Molly cradles his head and calls for help, Sam’s ghost watches from afar, then follows Molly to the hospital, where the ghost of an older man greets him. Sam attends his own funeral, where Molly cries and grasps Carl’s hand. The ghost of a woman waves to Sam before stepping through a gravestone. At home, Sam watches over Molly, who talks to her dead boyfriend, telling him she went to the dry cleaner’s that day and broke down in tears when the shop owner asked about him. The cat hisses at Sam when he gets too near, and Molly stops short, sensing his presence. Later, Sam observes as Carl and Molly go through boxes of Sam’s personal items. Molly sets aside various items to keep, including Sam’s address book. Carl encourages her to go for a walk with him, but Sam has a hard time passing through the door to follow them. Just then, the mugger who killed Sam breaks into the apartment. Sam watches as the man searches for something specific, to no avail. Molly returns home, and the mugger escapes. Sam follows him onto the subway, where he encounters a belligerent ghost. The ghost attacks Sam and smashes a window in the process. Sam trails the mugger to his apartment and discovers the man’s name is Willie Lopez. He overhears Lopez make a call, informing someone that he was not able to steal whatever he was after but plans to go back for it. Stunned by the realization that his murder was part of a larger scheme, Sam wanders onto the street. He hears music and enters an open door to a waiting room. A woman named Rosa Santiago is called inside a parlor and Sam follows her. There, Oda Mae Brown, a con artist posing as a psychic medium, pretends to connect with Rosa’s dead husband. Watching in disbelief, Sam voices his disapproval. Oda Mae hears Sam’s voice and panics, as she has never actually communed with the dead. Oda Mae tells Sam to leave her alone, but he refuses. At night, he keeps her awake by singing non-stop until she finally agrees to help him. The next day, they go to Sam and Molly’s apartment downtown. Although Molly initially rejects Oda Mae’s claims, she invites her in after Oda Mae reveals personal information only Sam could know. Relaying a message from Sam, Oda Mae warns Molly that she is in danger. She gives her Willie Lopez’s name and address and explains that Sam’s murder was a setup. That evening, Molly shares the information with Carl, who discourages her from going to the police and offers to check out Willie Lopez himself. Sam follows Carl to Lopez’s apartment and discovers that Carl and Lopez are in cahoots. Carl, who is laundering $4 million in drug money using Sam’s clients’ accounts, needs Sam’s new pass code, which he believes he will find in Sam’s address book. If he does not gain access to the accounts, Carl will lose the $80,000 he stood to make and might be killed. Carl vows to steal the address book himself. Outside, Sam tries to punch Carl, but his hands float through Carl’s body. Molly goes to the police station, where a sergeant pulls up the file of Oda Mae Brown, who has a long history of fraud. Meanwhile, Carl breaks into the apartment and retrieves Sam’s address book. He finds the pass code and goes to the office. Sam observes as Carl successfully transfers the $4 million into one account, under the alias “Rita Miller,” with orders to transfer the money again, the following day, into an offshore account in Nassau. Carl returns to Sam and Molly’s apartment and tries to seduce her by sharing his grief over Sam’s death. Molly laments that she feels alone, and Carl kisses her. Outraged, Sam jumps on Carl, and in doing so, miraculously knocks over a framed photograph of Molly and Sam. Molly jumps up and tells Carl he must leave. Returning to the subway, Sam finds the ghost who attacked him and enlists his help. The subway ghost, who smashed a window while attacking Sam, teaches Sam how to manipulate objects with his mind. Sam returns to Oda Mae’s parlor and finds it teeming with new clients and the ghosts of their loved ones, all of whom Oda Mae can now hear. One of the ghosts jumps into her body and takes it over for a brief moment before she casts him out. Oda Mae complains to Sam that she does not want this newfound power. She orders everyone out of the parlor just as Lopez arrives to kill her. Oda Mae escapes, and Sam follows. He tells her he has a plan to get them out of danger, but he needs her help. At Sam’s behest, Oda Mae dresses up and forges a fake identification card for “Rita Miller.” She goes to a bank and sits down with Sam’s old colleague, Lyle Ferguson. As Sam whispers personal information about Ferguson into her ear, Oda Mae nervously tells the banker that she knows him and announces she is there to close her account. Despite her strange behavior, Ferguson closes the account and gives her a cashier’s check for $4 million. Molly arrives at the bank and recognizes Oda Mae from across the room. With the check in hand, Oda Mae hurries out of the building. Molly asks Lyle Ferguson about Oda Mae, but he claims her name is Rita Miller. On the street, Oda Mae rejoices at her newfound wealth, but Sam insists she get rid of the money or the criminals will trace it to her. With great reluctance, Oda Mae signs over the check to a homeless shelter. Meanwhile, Carl tries to transfer the laundered money, but panics when he finds the account closed. Sam shows up at the office and taunts Carl by moving objects across the room and typing “murderer” on his computer screen. That evening, Carl goes to Molly’s apartment in a state of distress and asks about Sam’s ghost. Molly mentions seeing Oda Mae at the bank, and tells Carl that her real name is Rita Miller. Carl leaves abruptly and heads uptown. Sam goes to Oda Mae’s apartment to warn her that she is in danger, and she hides in a neighbor’s apartment. When Carl and Lopez come searching for her, Sam scares Lopez by moving objects around Oda Mae’s apartment and writing “boo” on a foggy mirror. Lopez runs outside and is hit by a car. Sam watches as Lopez’s ghost is dragged underground by shadowy, black demons. Sam takes Oda Mae back to Molly’s apartment, where Oda Mae tells Molly to call the police. Sam expresses his desire to touch Molly once more, and Oda Mae allows him to inhabit her body. Sam and Molly share a dance, but Sam is knocked out of Oda Mae’s body when Carl breaks in and chases the women to an empty apartment. There, Sam uses his telekinetic powers to fight Carl, who tries to escape through a window but is impaled by a shard of broken glass. Carl’s ghost sees Sam just before the shadowy demons come to collect him. Sam finds Oda Mae and Molly, and asks if they are okay. However, before Oda Mae can respond, Molly answers. A heavenly light shines down and Sam’s ghost becomes visible to the women. Sam tells Oda Mae he will miss her. He kisses Molly goodbye and tells her he loves her, to which she responds, “Ditto.”  

Distribution Company: Paramount Pictures
Production Company: Paramount Pictures
Director: Jerry Zucker (Dir)
  Dirk Petersmann (Unit prod mgr)
  Michael Tadross (Unit prod mgr)
  Mark Radcliffe (1st asst dir)
  John Hockridge (1st asst dir)
  George Parra (2d asst dir)
  Steven-Charles Jaffe (2d unit dir)
  Joseph Ray (2d asst dir, 2d unit)
Producer: Lisa Weinstein (Prod)
  Bruce Joel Rubin (Assoc prod)
  Steven-Charles Jaffe (Exec prod)
Writer: Bruce Joel Rubin (Wrt)

Subject Major: Deception
  Ghosts
  Grief
  Mediums
  Murder
  Robbery
  Widows
 
Subject Minor: Apartments
  Artists
  Bankers
  Banks
  Drug dealers
  Hired killers
  Impersonation and imposture
  Money laundering
  New York City
  New York City--Wall Street
  Pottery
  Romance

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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