Title: Blackbeard’s Ghost
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy
Director: Robert Stevenson
A feel-good Disney production, a priggish track-and-field coach (Jones) accidentally invokes the ghost of the centuries-old notorious pirate Blackbeard (Ustinov), who has been stuck in limbo eternally after death because of his 10th wife’s vicious curse, while being only visible to the coach, Blackbeard needs to do something good to break the curse, so he decides to assist the coach’s lame team to win the college competition (using his stunt of invisibility) in order to win the wager to pay back the bank mortgage and save the hereditary hotel which runs by Blackbeard’s descendants (a gaggle of old ladies led by Lanchester).
Directed by Robert Stevenson after his post-MARY POPPINS (1964) glory, the film fully taps into the jejune bickering and antics between the coach and Blackbeard, an anachronistic farce which hones up to a gratifying hilarity meanwhile tips the scales in hasty absurdity. The over-exploited shtick of Blackbeard’s invisibility is as stock as fatiguable, it is a decent family treat after all.
Ustinov’s eloquent oratory shines even under the circumstances of nothing stimulating needs to be uttered, whose mellifluous cadences alone can save the audience from the stodgy character’ default setting, a tad annoying, a tad self-boasting, but nothing remotely hints Blackbeard’s venomous nature. Dean Jones, with a Sean Connery-alike visage, contradictorily jibes with Ustinov’s maverick image, has a holier-than-thou standard offering in his goodly appearance, completely sedated under Ustinov’s grandstanding and so is Suzanne Pleshette, a professor of child psychology but more frisky and outward than her formal love-interest. Elsa Lanchester, owns a great gambit as an offbeat soothsayer, shamefully then steps off most of the time as a sightseer.
The embellished plot-line of the track events and casino gambling works well with the laughters, Stevenson and screenwriters surely had contrived a plan to let everything looks plausible no matter how illogical it seems, so as hard as they tried, it is a run-of-the-mill level of creation and self-aware of its demographical appeal.