The plot centers on a young woman in jeopardy (Moore), the ghost of her murdered lover (Swayze) and a reluctant psychic (Goldberg) who assists him in saving her although the psychic had previously been faking her powers.
The film was an outstanding commercial success, grossing over $505.7 million at the box office on a budget of $22 million. It was the highest-grossing film of 1990. Adjusted for inflation, as of 2015 Ghost was the 93rd-highest-grossing film of all time domestically.
The film 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 for Bruce Joel Rubin. 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, a banker, and his girlfriend Molly Jensen, a potter, renovate and move into an apartment in Manhattan with the help of Sam's friend and co-worker Carl Bruner. One afternoon, Sam confides in Carl his discovery of unusually high balances in obscure bank accounts. He decides to investigate the matter himself, declining Carl's offer of assistance. That night, Sam and Molly are attacked by a mugger who kills Sam in a scuffle before stealing his wallet. Sam sees Molly crying over his body and discovers he is now a ghost; invisible and unable to interact with the mortal world.
Molly remains distraught in the days after Sam's death, as Sam remains close to her. Carl comes over and suggests Molly take a walk with him and Sam cannot bring himself to follow. Moments later, the mugger enters the apartment in search of something. When Molly returns, Sam scares their cat into attacking the thug, who flees. Sam follows the mugger to his Brooklyn apartment and learns that the man, Willie Lopez, was sent by an unknown party.
After leaving Willie's residence, Sam happens upon the parlor of psychic Oda Mae Brown, a charlatan pretending to commune with dead spirits who is shocked to discover her true psychic gift when she can hear Sam speaking. Sam convinces her to warn Molly that she is in danger. To allay Molly's skepticism, Oda Mae relays information that only Sam could know. Molly gives Willie's address to Carl; she then goes to the police, who have no file for Willie but they show her Oda Mae's lengthy one as a forger and con artist.
Meanwhile, Sam follows Carl and is devastated to learn he and Willie are working together. Carl is laundering money for drug dealers and he had Willie rob Sam to get his apartment key, which Carl uses to obtain Sam's book of passwords and transfer the money into a single account under the fictitious "Rita Miller".
Sam learns from a violent poltergeist haunting the subway system how to manipulate objects with his mind. Sam then persuades Oda Mae to help him thwart Carl. Before Carl can transfer the money for his clients, Oda Mae impersonates Rita Miller, closes the account, and gives the $4 million cashier's check to charity. As Carl desperately searches for the money, Sam reveals his presence by typing his name on the computer keyboard. Carl goes to Molly, who reveals she spotted Oda Mae closing an account at the bank. Carl and Willie go to Oda Mae's place but Sam warns her to take shelter. When Willie arrives, Sam tosses objects at him until Willie flees into the street in a panic and is killed by an oncoming car. Shadowy creatures emerge from the darkness to drag Willie's ghost down to Hell.
Sam and Oda Mae return to the apartment where—by levitating a penny into Molly's hand—he convinces Molly that Oda Mae is telling the truth about him. Oda Mae allows Sam to possess her body so he and Molly can share a slow dance. Carl breaks into the apartment but Sam is too exhausted from the possession to fight Carl. The women run onto the fire escape, to a loft under construction, but Carl catches Oda Mae and holds her at gunpoint, demanding the check. A recovered Sam pushes Carl off her so Carl takes Molly hostage, pleading with Sam for the check. Sam disarms Carl and attacks him again. Carl tries to escape through a window and tosses a suspended hook at Sam; the hook swings back to shatter the window and it slides down, fatally impaling Carl with a glass shard. The shadowy creatures return to claim Carl's ghost for Hell.
Sam asks if the women are all right. Miraculously, Molly can now hear him. A heavenly light shines in the room, illuminating Sam's presence. Realizing that it is his time to go, he and Molly share a tearful goodbye and one final kiss. Sam thanks Oda Mae for her help, and she tells him that he is being called home. Sam then walks into the light and onward to Heaven.Patrick Swayze as Sam Wheat
Demi Moore as Molly Jensen
Whoopi Goldberg as Oda Mae Brown
Tony Goldwyn as Carl Bruner
Rick Aviles as Willie Lopez
Vincent Schiavelli as Subway Ghost
Gail Boggs as Oda Mae's Sister, Louise
Armelia McQueen as Oda Mae's Sister, Clara
Phil Leeds as Emergency Room Ghost
Augie Blunt as Orlando
Stephen Root as Police Sgt
Bruce Jarchow as Lyle Ferguson
Filming for Ghost began shooting in July 1989. Most of the interior scenes were shot at Paramount in Los Angeles while the exterior scenes were shot in New York City, particularly in Bedford–Stuyvesant, Soho, and Wall Street, for about five weeks. The film features about 100 special effects shots.
The music for Ghost was written by veteran composer Maurice Jarre. The soundtrack also featured the 1955 song "Unchained Melody", composed by Alex North with lyrics by Hy Zaret. That song appears in both instrumental form and in the 1965 recording by the Righteous Brothers. Jarre's score was nominated for the 1990 Academy Award for Best Original Score, though it lost to John Barry's work for Dances with Wolves.
The soundtrack album was issued on Milan Records (and licensed to Varèse Sarabande for North American release); it was subsequently reissued in 1995 with two extra tracks, and later as part of Milan's Silver Screen Edition series with the extra tracks and an interview with Maurice Jarre.
The film became an unexpected huge box-office success, grossing $505,702,588 on a budget of $22,000,000. It was the highest-grossing film of 1990. Box Office Mojo estimates that the film sold over 51.46 million tickets in the US.
Ghost has received generally favorable reviews and has a "Certified Fresh" rating of 74% on Rotten Tomatoes based on reviews from 65 critics. It has a score of 52 on the review site Metacritic, indicating mixed or average reviews. The film has been criticized for featuring the Magical Negro stereotype in the character of Oda Mae Brown, although Goldberg's performance was highly praised. In a review for The New York Times, Janet Maslin 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. Goldberg went on to win an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award, and a Golden Globe for her performance.
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:2002: AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions – #19
2004: AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs:
"Unchained Melody" – #27
2005: AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes:
Sam Wheat: "It's amazing, Molly. The love inside, you take it with you." – Nominated
2006: AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers – Nominated
2008: AFI's 10 Top 10:
Nominated Fantasy Film
The film has inspired a musical stage version, Ghost the Musical. The show had its world premiere in Manchester, UK, in March 2011 before transferring to London from June 2011 and having its premiere on July 19, 2011. Richard Fleeshman created the role of Sam, with Caissie Levy as Molly and Sharon D. Clarke as Oda Mae Brown. The success of the West End production led to a Broadway transfer in March 2012. This run was short-lived however, closing August 2012. Subsequently, the original production closed on October 6, 2012. A national tour of the United Kingdom launched in April 2013, with a tour of the United States also announced.
The pottery wheel scene is very well known and often parodied, with examples occurring in In Living Color ("Ghost II: Sammy Davis, Jr.'s Spirit"), Two and a Half Men, Saturday Night Live, Family Guy ("The Story on Page One" and "Baby Not on Board"), All's Well, Ends Well, Naked Gun 2½ (directed by David Zucker, brother of director Jerry Zucker, and released by the same studio as this film), Loaded Weapon 1, The Penguins of Madagascar, Futurama ("Bendless Love" and "Bender's Game"), Community ("Beginner Pottery"), Victorious ("Survival of the Hottest"), Wallace and Gromit ("A Matter of Loaf and Death"), 6teen ("Unhappy Anniversary"), Ellen ("Alone Again ... Naturally"), Glee ("Girls (and Boys) On Film"), Bob's Burgers ("Synchronized Swimming"), 30 Rock ("Governor Dunston"), and Fuller House ("Save the Dates").DVD
Region 1: 24 April 2001
Region 2: 11 December 2001
Blu-ray: 30 December 2008
In November 13, 2010, Paramount and Shochiku released a Japanese remake of Ghost, titled Ghost: In Your Arms Again (ゴースト もういちど抱きしめたい, Gōsuto Mouichido Dakishimetai). The remake stars Nanako Matsushima, South Korean actor Song Seung-heon, and veteran actress Kirin Kiki. In this film, the ghost is a woman, played by Matsushima.
In November 2013, it was announced that Paramount Television is developing a television series adaptation of Ghost, with Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner writing the pilot.