Blackbeard's Ghost (DVD, 2002) Reviews

Blackbeard's Ghost (DVD, 2002)

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The Invisible Pirate

Jan 2, 2004 (Updated Jan 2, 2004)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Fun, Riotous, Good characterizations

Cons:Too many competing plot lines, Superficial humor

The Bottom Line: Entertaining family film from Disney's golden era

For those who occasionally long for a nostalgic, feel- good, film from the golden era of Walt Disney Production, their 1968 release Blackbeard's Ghost is a typical example of their 1960's staples, lighthearted family films, that both adults and children will enjoy.

The story takes place in the quaint seaside college town of Godolphin, where the legend of the menacing Pirate Edmund Teach (Blackbeard) still sends chills up and down the spines of the townspeople. His legend is carefully preserved by the Daughters Of The Buccaneers, who have turned a local inn he once inhabited, into a group home for elderly residents. Local mobster Silkey Seymour (Joby Baker) plans to turn the inn into a gambling casino and demands that the Daughters Of The Buccaneers, lead by their spokeswoman, (Elsa Lanchester) pay off the $38,000 mortgage within a strict deadline.

At the same time, a new Track Coach, Steve Walker, (Dean Jones) has just arrived in town to take over Godolphin College's struggling track program. All of the previous coaches have resigned under mysterious circumstances. After bidding on an antique bed warmer at a local auction, Walker discovers a witch's spell inside the handle, and invokes the spirit of Blackbeard (Peter Ustinov) whose ghost appears, transparent to everyone except Steve. Blackbeard reveals that his ex-wife, the witch, cast a spell that has him suspended in a state of limbo until he is able to perform at least one good deed.

Blackbeard proceeds to wreak havoc on Steve's daily life until he devises a plan to put the Pirate's magical powers to practice to help save the Daughter's Of Buccaneers fortunes. The result is a madcap misadventure with plenty of laughs and whimsy.

Although technically, Blackbeard's Ghost is a far cry from Disney's recent swashbuckling blockbuster Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl, the film actually has some pretty amazing special effect considering the era in which it was produced. Blackbeard appears, as if magically, at the most inopportune moments, in a swirling puff of smoke, performing such stunts as riding a motorcycle, shooting a handgun, and assaulting a police officer with his invisible presence. He also comes to the aid of Walker's inept track team, providing acrobatic enhancements to their athletic accomplishments, enabling them to win a prestigious track meet.

Dean Jones delivers his usual easygoing, straight arrow, performance that is the perfect foil for Peter Ustinov's riotous, over-the-top, personification of the rowdy, irrepressible, ghost. Elsa Lanchester and Suzanne Pleshette add excellent performances as the skittish leader of the Daughters of The Buccaneers and Steve's wholesome romanctic interest, the school's Psychology Professor.

Director Robert Stevenson (Son Of Flubber/The Absent Minded Professor) resorts to the same type of catchy one liners and slapstick humor that is evident in the long list of films he directed for Disney Studios in the 1960's. The result is a charming, lighthearted, fantasy film that may suffer from a few too many competing plot lines, but accomplishes it's only goal, which is to entertain on a level that will appeal to both the young and young at heart.

*Other Disney films directed by Robert Stevenson

That Darn Cat (1965)
Mary Poppins (1964)
The Love Bug (1968)
Son Of Flubber (1963)
The Absent- Minded Professor (1961)

Recommend this product? Yes

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Peter Ustinov stars in this late 1960s Disney film as the dread pirate Blackbeard, risen from the dead by his ancestor, a college track coach, who hop...
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