1968, Disney. Directed by Robert Stevenson. Peter Ustinov, Dean Jones, Suzanne Pleshette, Elsa Lanchester, Joby Baker.
Decent Films Ratings
|?Kids & Up|
Content advisory: Mild slapstick violence; references to a spell cast by a witch; a scene of entertainment-style fortune-telling; frequent rum drinking (by Blackbeard).
By Steven D. Greydanus
An amiable 1960s Disney comedy with a few spooky moments, Blackbeard’s Ghost stars Peter Ustinov as the title phantom and Dean Jones as a college track coach named Steve Walker who accidentally recites the magic words that make Blackbeard visible to him alone. Suspended between this life and the next by a curse from an ex-wife who was also a witch, Blackbeard haunts the coastal community where his descendants still live — and only a good deed will set him free.
This ghostly premise is padded with a string of hackneyed devices, including a looming mortgage deadline on the historic inn built by Blackbeard himself, a gang of mobsters who want replace the inn with a casino, and a Bad News Bears-style incompetent track team. Ustinov hams amusingly as the Disneyfied buccaneer, Jones’s slow burn is variously funny and annoying, and Suzanne Pleshette plays the pretty psych professor who likes Steve but is worried by his inexplicable behavior.
Highlights include an ominous retelling of the story of Blackbeard’s curse and a slapstick scene pitting the heroes against the gangsters. Undeniably silly and somewhat dated, Blackbeard’s Ghost remains harmless, modestly entertaining family fare.