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Film / Blackbeard's Ghost

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Blackbeard's Ghost is a 1968 Disney live-action supernatural comedy film adapted from a 1965 novel of the same name by Ben Stahl, directed by Robert Stevenson and starring Peter Ustinov, Dean Jones, Suzanne Pleshette, Elsa Lanchester and Joby Baker.

Steve Walker (Jones) has come to the coastal New England town of Godolphin to be a track and field coach at the local college. He stays at an inn run by the Daughters of the Buccaneers, a group of old ladies who are descendants of the notorious English pirate captain Edward Teach, aka "Blackbeard", and his crew. Finding a book of spells written by one of Blackbeard's wives—who happened to be a witch—Steve reads one aloud and accidentally conjures up Blackbeard's ghost (Ustinov), who's been cursed to remain in limbo until he accomplishes a good deed. Hilarity ensues.

This movie was later referenced in The Haunted Mansion at the Disney Theme Parks, of all places.

Contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Heroism / Historical Villain Downgrade: Blackbeard in the book was much nastier than in the film. And in real life... Well, he was a feared pirate for a reason.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Subverted. The policeman thinks that Steve must be drunk when he catches him driving recklessly, especially because there's a bottle of rum in the car with him. But actually, Steve doesn't drink and the rum is Blackbeard's, and the terrible driving was also Blackbeard's fault.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: At the end the curse is broken and Blackbeard can move on.
  • Big Game: The big track and field competition in the climax that the team of Godolphin has to win lest it wants to cease to exist. Steve also risks losing his job on it. Luckily, they can count on Blackbeard to help them a little...
  • Brick Joke: During Steve and Jo Anne's visit to Silky's restaurant, Blackbeard steals several bottles of rum. When they return at the end, the bartender quickly gathers up the bottles of rum.
  • Cassandra Truth: Steve tells Jo Anne that Blackbeard's haunting him, and that no one else can see the ghost. She doesn't believe him.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Blackbeard tries to drive Steve's car. Then he steals a policeman's bike. It goes badly both times.
  • Finger Gun: In the climactic fight, Steve pretends to shoot Silky's goons with his fingers. They all collapse... because Blackbeard hit them over the head with a real gun.
  • Ghost Pirate: Blackbeard, of course. A rather unusual one; he doesn't have a ship or a crew anymore and — apart from gambling with money that isn't his, and helping the track team cheat — he doesn't do anything to terrorise anyone.
  • Gun Twirling: Blackbeard does this with a policeman's gun. He accidentally fires the gun while twirling it.
  • Hypocrite: Blackbeard's reaction upon discovering the electric gaff under the roulette table is to call them cheats.
  • Invisible to Normals: Blackbeard is invisible to everyone except Steve. This makes people think Steve's crazy.
  • Large Ham: Blackbeard. Steve becomes one in a few scenes, when especially angry with him.
  • Not Me This Time: Blackbeard is very insistent that he never burnt Aldetha at the stake. Sure he "might've made her walk the plank a few times" but he never so much as held a lit match to her.
  • Paranormal Gambling Advantage: Blackbeard helps Steve win at the roulette table by moving the ball to the number Steve selected.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Blackbeard doesn't do anything piratey in the film. But then, he's a ghost.
  • Real After All: Blackbeard becomes visible at the end, to Jo Anne's amazement.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Blackbeard twirls then drops a gun, and accidentally shoots the windscreen, lights and tyres of Steve's car. Of course this is the first time he’s ever fired a gun with more than one shot so he’s just having way too much fun with it then he should.
  • Running Gag: Every time that poor waiter appears, he trips over Blackbeard. His final appearance takes it further, when Blackbeard picks him up and throws him in a fish tank.
  • Saving the Orphanage: Or in this case, saving the hotel run by the Daughters of the Buccaneers.
  • Serious Business: Blackbeard does not like people breaking bottles of alcohol.
  • Shout-Out: Emily Stowecroft calls Steve "Ishmael".
  • Spooky Painting: Aldetha's portrait is quite unsettling.
  • Stealth Insult: Mr. Walker's pep talk before the Broxton Relays.
  • Tear Up the Contract: After winning the money to pay off the inn's mortgage, Steve has the Daughters of the Buccaneers recite the spell making Blackbeard visible to them. The Daughters then give Blackbeard the honor of burning the mortgage.
  • Together in Death: Once Blackbeard's curse is broken he sails off and is reunited with his crew in the afterlife.