Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Effects, some laughs
Cons: Over reactions, predictable story
The Bottom Line:
This new job comes with
Ghostly complications. Film
Is just average
Ghostly Laughs from this Ghostly Comedy
While I’ve dipped my toe into the paranormal waters now and then as an adult, I mostly avoided anything having to do with that as a kid. As a result, I have never watched Blackbeard’s Ghost, but when I discovered it on Turner Classic Movies last month as part of a Vault Disney night, I decided to give it a try. Turns out I wasn’t missing much.
Steve Walker (Dean Jones) has just moved to the Carolina coast to become the track coast for Godolphin College. He’s so new, he’s taken lodging at Blackbeard’s Inn. The legendary pirate is supposed to have sailed in these parts, and the inn is owned and run by women who claim to be descendant from him or his crew.
They are also about to be run off by the local gangster who wants to take over their location to open a gambling casino, and he’s given them an impossible deadline to pay off the mortgage. Nobody in the area is willing to cross him, so he is used to getting what he wants.
On his first night staying at the inn, Steve invokes an ancient incantation that unknowingly brings the ghost of Blackbeard (Peter Ustinov) to him. Only he can see or hear the man, and his attempts to get away make him appear crazy, especially to Jo Anna Baker (Suzanne Pleashette), the college professor who has caught his eye. Where will all of this lead?
Being a Disney comedy from the 60’s, I’m sure you can guess where this is going to lead. Yes, the complications and sub-plots are fairly predictable. I’m not necessarily opposed to predictable if I’m having fun, however.
In this case, I was amused, but that was about it. The movie makes the most of a guy talking to someone who is invisible. Oh, we can see Blackbeard much of the time, but we get shots where he is invisible, usually to up the slapstick comedy factor. It just never quite got to the heights of some of Disney’s better movies in the genre.
I think one of the reasons for this is how Dean Jones’s Steve Walker reacts to things. He is over the top upset and yelling. No, I don’t think it was bad acting, but he was upset or yelling for much of the movie, and I grew tired of that. When he was calmer, the movie was better for me.
And I can’t fault the special effects. These were phenomenal for this time. There’s nothing we haven’t seen in other Disney comedies, but it still blows my mind. Obviously, they are dated now, but I’m willing to buy into it, and it is part of the film’s charm.
It’s not that Blackbeard’s Ghost is a bad movie. It’s just not all that entertaining either. I’m glad I got to see it since I’ve been curious about it, but I won’t be rushing out to watch it again.