Earlier in the week, I found myself writing a tribute to an actress that most had forgotten about. This was made clear to me tonight as I started this review and received an IM from a friend who had not heard of Suzanne Pleshette because my friend was too young to have seen Pleshette’s work. No worries — maybe this review will encourage her to see something Pleshette has done.
Blackbeard’s Ghost is what I would call a Golden-Age Disney film. Made while Walt was alive, it fit the standard look and feel of many Disney movies of that time. Dean Jones, one of Walt’s favorites, stars as the new track coach for tiny Godolphin College located on the East Coast. As he arrives in town, he learns many a things and is soon victim to a spell that allows him to see Blackbeard’s ghost when no one else can. Of course Jones falls for Pleshette’s character, another professor at the college. There is the over-the-top villain and the ever-present disapproving dean of the college. Peter Ustinov had great fun with the role of Blackbeard and it is evident in every frame.
Looking at the movie, I am reminded how certain things have changed. Back in the day, all of the credits would run at the beginning of the movie with maybe a cast list at the end. Nowadays, you have two sections of credits. No one’s named appeared above the credits except for Walt’s. The colors actually seemed more vivid and the movie more real than some of today’s big blowouts. One could also argue that this was Walt’s way of doing a pirate picture without basing it on a ride. Speaking of rides, the portrait paintings in the inn appear to have been painted by the same person who did the paintings in the Haunted Mansion attractions.
One scene that brought me personal amusement was the scene in the casino where Jones and Pleshette are trying to win all of the money. Even though Jones knows the ghost is helping, Pleshette pushes him aside and bets her own way.
Pleshette: What are you doing?
Jones: Put all of the money on one number
Pleshette: Have you ever played this before?
Pleshette: Well I have and I have a system
Jones: A system?!?!?
Then Jones smirks at the camera with an imaginary eyeroll.
The reason I liked this bit is because it reminds me of many conversations between me and my mother or my mother and father. Even spookier is that my mother at times has resembled Pleshette in looks.
There are no features on this DVD, which is a shame.
My advice: watch it one night when you want to see a fun example of movie making from the ’60s — you won’t be disappointed.