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Movies We Watched: Ghost (the much harder to find version)

Slowly we're getting current on our movie write ups and to help with that, here's Ghost from last December. Wait, not THAT Ghost...or That ghost or even That Ghost. In fact, this movie is none of the Ghosts listed in the IMDB nor can you find it under the lead actress Barbara Steel because that's not the right Barbara Steele. It's nigh impossible to find this in IMDB but fortunately we tweeted the movie way back when and included the year it was made so when I asked my Webfriend Google what was up with the 1963 version of Ghost, I was gently set straight.

Apparently the movie is THE Ghost (which is not what our copy told us) and Barbara has an extra 'e' I did not account for. I would normally wrap up this ramble with, "And that's the most interesting part of the movie" but to our surprise it wasn't.


The premise is that Dr. Charles Livingstone is older, sickly and wheelchair bound but a brilliant (and verging on mad - because they all are to some extent) scientist. With the help of his younger colleague, Dr. John Hichcock, the two of them experiment with curare in order to cure Livingstone's paralysis. Of course Dr. Livingstone's considerably younger wife falls in love with the handsome Dr. Hichcock and the two dredge up the oldest plot known to storytelling in order to run away with each other: They plan to poison the cranky older Livingstone with his own experimental cure!!!1! How deviously boring but to be fair, Dr. Crankypants gets on everyone's nerves really early on with his surliness and constant "come hither and attend to me" bell ringing. It's a relief to know the elder doctor is going to leave the scene, even if it's done in a most cliche manner.

There is the usual tension, second thoughts, and hand wringing coercion between the two young lovers but eventually Dr. Livingstone is poisoned. I presume. At this point, the movie becomes somewhat The Tell Tale Heart and somewhat MacBeth as the wife, who continues to live in the house, hears the "come hither" bell and sees ghostly visions of her dead husband wheeling around at night. To add a little bit more tension, the two lovers can't find the key to the safe which holds the deeds and fortune of the late Dr. Livingstone and the crafty dead doc has worded his will such that his widow gets the house but the local vicar gets whatever is in the safe. It would be really keen if Widow Livingstone and Dr. Hichcock could get their hands on some of the fortune in the safe since the house holds nothing of real value and they would really rather like to be rich and in love.

But wait...in a serendipitous offhand remark by the housekeeper, the Widow Livingstone learns that the late (and by this time nicely decomposing) Dr. Livingstone was buried with a key just like the safe key! Thus, the already mentally unstable Widow Livingstone must go to the vaults and retrieve the key in order to open the safe and live the life of ease. She eventually goes to the crypt and opens the dead doctor's coffin and discovers...his badly decomposing body. And the key. She and her handsome doctor rush to the safe and open it but alas, the safe is unaccountably empty.

The "come hither" bell keeps ringing and now the Widow Livingstone is visited by the badly decomposing ghost of her late husband. The Widow Livingstone becomes suspicious of her lover and offs him, only to then become suspicious of the housekeeper. Basically, the Widow Livingstone is plain bonkers and suspects everyone. Well except for the dog which she had Dr. Hichcock shoot earlier because it kept barking. By the way, Barbara Steele has excellent crazy eyes.

And in a closing paragraph of SPOILERS!!! The Widow Livingstone pours herself a glass of poison port with intent on taking her life when her dead husband walks in from a secret hidey space alive and well. He's been haunting her the whole time and has in fact set up the entire plot, including his "death" by overdose of curare. I guess he spent the last few years building up an immunity to iocane curare powder. Dr. Livingstone paralyses his wife with curare powder, takes a gun and shoots the loyal housekeeper (who was in on the Doctor's plan) and puts the revolver in his wife's hand. Doctor Livingstone then celebrates his cleverness by drinking down the glass of port his wife had poured for herself earlier.

Uh oh. Crazy Not Widow Livingstone, still unable to move, enjoys a slightly strangled laugh as Dr. Livingstone dies again...for real this time. Sadly, his death throes stumble him backward into the secret hidey hole which then closes after him. The Widowed (again) Livingstone is left paralyzed with a smoking gun, a dead housekeeper and a soon to be rank smelling study.

All's well that ends.

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