Ghost Dad (1990)

PG | 84 mins | Comedy | 29 June 1990

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HISTORY

Principal photography began 26 Apr 1989, the 9 May 1989 HR and 27 May 1990 LAT Magazine noted. Needing a project during the hiatus between seasons of his popular NBC Television program, The Bill Cosby Show (14 Sep 1969--21 Mar 1971), Cosby became interested in a script that “had been languishing” at Universal Studios. Titled Thursday, screenwriter Phil Alden Robinson had written it as a project for Steve Martin. Steven Spielberg was ready to produce it on a $30 million budget, and Phil Joanou was hired to direct, the 21 Jul 1987 Newsday reported, but Universal cancelled the project at the last moment. The 30 Nov 1987 Newsday announced that producer Rob Cohen had taken over and hired director Jack Badham. According to the 28 Feb 1988 LAT, Steve Martin returned to the project and principal photography was scheduled to begin Mar 1988. However, the film failed to go into production. The following year, new screenwriters “Cosbyized” the script to make it more family friendly, and Sidney Poitier, who had worked with Cosby on three previous films, was brought in to direct. The film was completed after sixty-seven shooting days. The 12 Jun 1989 LAHExam noted that Ghost Dad was still being shot on that date.
       A scene in which “Elliot Hopper” leaves his office and gets into the “fatal” taxicab was filmed in the 400 block of South Olive Street in downtown Los Angeles, CA.
       Universal Studios originally hoped to release Ghost Dad in time for Christmas 1989, according to the 14 Jun 1989 Toronto Star, ... More Less

Principal photography began 26 Apr 1989, the 9 May 1989 HR and 27 May 1990 LAT Magazine noted. Needing a project during the hiatus between seasons of his popular NBC Television program, The Bill Cosby Show (14 Sep 1969--21 Mar 1971), Cosby became interested in a script that “had been languishing” at Universal Studios. Titled Thursday, screenwriter Phil Alden Robinson had written it as a project for Steve Martin. Steven Spielberg was ready to produce it on a $30 million budget, and Phil Joanou was hired to direct, the 21 Jul 1987 Newsday reported, but Universal cancelled the project at the last moment. The 30 Nov 1987 Newsday announced that producer Rob Cohen had taken over and hired director Jack Badham. According to the 28 Feb 1988 LAT, Steve Martin returned to the project and principal photography was scheduled to begin Mar 1988. However, the film failed to go into production. The following year, new screenwriters “Cosbyized” the script to make it more family friendly, and Sidney Poitier, who had worked with Cosby on three previous films, was brought in to direct. The film was completed after sixty-seven shooting days. The 12 Jun 1989 LAHExam noted that Ghost Dad was still being shot on that date.
       A scene in which “Elliot Hopper” leaves his office and gets into the “fatal” taxicab was filmed in the 400 block of South Olive Street in downtown Los Angeles, CA.
       Universal Studios originally hoped to release Ghost Dad in time for Christmas 1989, according to the 14 Jun 1989 Toronto Star, but the film did not go into general release until 29 Jun 1990. The original screenwriter, Phil Alden Robinson, was not listed in credits.
       The 9 Sep 1990 LAT reported that producer Stan Robertson blamed newspaper critics for the film’s “disappointing gross” of $22 million. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Hollywood Reporter
9 May 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jun 1990.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jun 1990
p. 5, 55
LAHExam
12 Jul 1989.
---
LAT Magazine
27 May 1990.
p. 14.
Los Angeles Times
28 Feb 1988
Calendar, p. 21
Los Angeles Times
23 Apr 1989
Calendar, p. 41
Los Angeles Times
29 Jun 1990
Calendar, p. 11
Los Angeles Times
9 Sep 1990
Calendar, p. 21
New York Times
29 Jun 1990
p. 6
Newsday (Long Island, NY)
21 Jul 1987
News, p. 6
Newsday (Long Island, NY)
30 Nov 1987
News, p. 6
Toronto Star
14 Jun 1989
Section D, p. 1
Variety
27 Jun 1990
p. 24
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
[and]
as Sir Edith Moser
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Universal Pictures presents
a SAH Enterprises, Inc. production
a film by Sidney Poitier
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
D.G.A. trainee
Dir, 2d unit
1st asst dir, 2d unit
2d asst dir, 2d unit
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
[Cam] op
[Cam] op
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
Video playback
Gaffer
Best boy
Best boy
Lamp op
Lamp op
Lamp op
Key grip
2d grip
Dolly grip
Company grip
Company grip
Company grip
Dir of photog, 2d unit
Cam op, 2d unit
1st asst cam, 2d unit
1st asst cam, 2d unit
2d asst cam, 2d unit
2d asst cam, 2d unit
Key grip, 2d unit
Grip, 2d unit
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Illustrator
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Sr set des
Const coord
Set dec
Leadman
Leadman
Set dresser
Set dresser
Prop master
Prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Const foreman
Standby painter
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Key costumer
Men's costumer
Costumer
MUSIC
Mus score by
Mus mixer
SOUND
Prod mixer
Prod mixer
Boom op
Cableman
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
A.D.R. ed
Foley by
Foley by
Supv re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
A.D.R. mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
Visual eff ed
Supv, Spec eff
Eff man, Spec eff
Eff man, Spec eff
Eff man, Spec eff
Eff man, Spec eff
Eff man, Spec eff
Aerial wire supv, Aerial
Wire crew, Aerial
Wire crew, Aerial
Process plate supv, 2d unit
Spec eff, 2d unit
Spec eff, 2d unit
Spec eff, 2d unit
Exec prod, Apogee Productions, Inc., Visual eff un
Prod, Apogee Productions, Inc., Visual eff unit
Visual eff coord, Apogee Productions, Inc., Visual
Dir of photog, Apogee Productions, Inc., Visual ef
Op, Apogee Productions, Inc., Visual eff unit
Asst, Apogee Productions, Inc., Visual eff unit
Asst, Apogee Productions, Inc., Visual eff unit
Opt photog, Apogee Productions, Inc., Visual eff u
Opt cam op, Apogee Productions, Inc., Visual eff u
Opt cam op, Apogee Productions, Inc., Visual eff u
Opt lineup, Apogee Productions, Inc., Visual eff u
Opt lineup, Apogee Productions, Inc., Visual eff u
Opt lineup, Apogee Productions, Inc., Visual eff u
Anim supv, Apogee Productions, Inc., Visual eff un
Eff ed, Apogee Productions, Inc., Visual eff unit
Rigging eng, Apogee Productions, Inc., Visual eff
Cine tech, Apogee Productions, Inc., Visual eff un
Software development, Apogee Productions, Inc., Vi
Facilities mgr, Apogee Productions, Inc., Visual e
Still photog, Apogee Productions, Inc., Visual eff
Supv, The Chandler Group, Visual eff unit
Prod, The Chandler Group, Visual eff unit
Assoc prod, The Chandler Group, Visual eff unit
Opt supv, The Chandler Group, Visual eff unit
Prod coord, The Chandler Group, Visual eff unit
Asst prod coord, The Chandler Group, Visual eff un
Prod secy, The Chandler Group, Visual eff unit
Art dept supv, The Chandler Group, Visual eff unit
Roto artist, The Chandler Group, Visual eff unit
Roto artist, The Chandler Group, Visual eff unit
Roto artist, The Chandler Group, Visual eff unit
Anim cam op, The Chandler Group, Visual eff unit
Opt cam op, The Chandler Group, Visual eff unit
Opt cam op, The Chandler Group, Visual eff unit
Opt lineup, The Chandler Group, Visual eff unit
Opt coord, The Chandler Group, Visual eff unit
Opt asst, The Chandler Group, Visual eff unit
Opt asst, The Chandler Group, Visual eff unit
Visual eff ed, The Chandler Group, Visual eff unit
Asst ed, The Chandler Group, Visual eff unit
Supv, R/Greenberg Associates, Inc., Opt stretch ef
Cam, R/Greenberg Associates, Inc., Opt stretch eff
Opt layout, R/Greenberg Associates, Inc., Opt stre
Titles by
Main title des
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
Makeup, 2d unit
Hairstylist, 2d unit
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Prod assoc
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Transportation capt
Medical, Tech consultants
Magic, Tech consultants
Casting assoc, Tech consultants
Extras casting, Tech consultants
Voice casting, Tech consultants
Teacher, Tech consultants
Pub, Tech consultants
Still photog, Tech consultants
Prod auditor, Tech consultants
Asst aditor, Tech consultants
Asst aditor, Tech consultants
Tech advisor, Tech consultants
Asst to Mr. Poitier, Tech consultants
Asst to Mr. Robertson, Tech consultants
Asst to Mr. Cosby, Tech consultants
Asst to Mr. Nelson, Tech consultants
Asst to Mr. Nelson, Tech consultants
Prod asst, Tech consultants
Prod asst, Tech consultants
Prod asst, Tech consultants
Scr supv, 2d unit
Prod asst, 2d unit
Prod asst, 2d unit
First aid, 2d unit
Loc catering
STAND INS
Coord, Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Strong As Steel," written by Diane Warren, performed by Gladys Knight, produced by A. Z. Groove for Groove Specialist Productions, courtesy of MCA Records
"It's Just A Girl Thing," written by C. C. Orange, Jay McGowan, Renita Johnson and Mike Mike Phillips, performed by Icey Jaye, courtesy of Arista Records
"Miss You Much," written by James Harris III and Jerry Lewis, performed by Janet Jackson, courtesy of A&M Records
+
SONGS
"Strong As Steel," written by Diane Warren, performed by Gladys Knight, produced by A. Z. Groove for Groove Specialist Productions, courtesy of MCA Records
"It's Just A Girl Thing," written by C. C. Orange, Jay McGowan, Renita Johnson and Mike Mike Phillips, performed by Icey Jaye, courtesy of Arista Records
"Miss You Much," written by James Harris III and Jerry Lewis, performed by Janet Jackson, courtesy of A&M Records
"Born To Love," written by Jay Graydon, Glenn Ballard and Cliff Magnus, performed by Planet III, courtesy of Capitol Records, by arrangement with CEMA Special Markets
"Everytime I Say Goodbye," written by Carl Sturken, Evan Rogers and Paul Barry, performed by Cheryl Lynn, courtesy of Virgin Records
cues from the motion pictures Neighbors and Big Trouble composed by Bill Conti, courtesy of Columbia Pictures
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Thursday
Release Date:
29 June 1990
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 29 June 1990
Production Date:
began 26 April 1989
Copyright Claimant:
Universal City Studios, Inc.
Copyright Date:
10 August 1990
Copyright Number:
PA479395
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Filmed with Panavision® Cameras & Lenses
Duration(in mins):
84
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
30260
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Amanda Hopper goes to bed listening to an audiotape of her widower father, Elliot Hopper, telling a ghost story, because Elliot himself is still at work at Collins, Ltd. Ending the story, Elliot’s voice tells Amanda that on Thursday he will get his promotion and qualify for the company’s insurance and pension plans, and then he can spend more time with her. The following morning, as Elliot prepares to return to the office, he hears Amanda and his other two children, Diane and Danny, mention that today is Diane’s seventeenth birthday. Realizing he forgot to buy a gift, Elliot tells Diane that after Collins assigns him a company car on Thursday, she can drive the family station wagon. Elliot recalls that on his ninth birthday, his father dressed in a bunny costume and wore it for a week because the zipper broke. As Diane prepares to drive him to work, Elliot reminds Joan, the attractive lady next door, that they have a date for his company banquet on Wednesday night. Downtown, as Elliot rides the elevator to his office, a Collins executive, Mr. Seymour, congratulates him for being entrusted to handle the big merger on Thursday. The last to leave the elevator, Elliot steps off seconds before the cable breaks and sends the car smashing into the basement. Later, hurrying to a meeting at the Union Bank, Elliot flags down a taxicab driven by Curtis Burch, a crazed Satan worshipper. Curtis zigzags through traffic at high speed and smashes through the side of a bridge, dropping himself and Elliot into the river. Elliot escapes, but when he climbs out of the water and returns to the bridge, a policeman ... +


Amanda Hopper goes to bed listening to an audiotape of her widower father, Elliot Hopper, telling a ghost story, because Elliot himself is still at work at Collins, Ltd. Ending the story, Elliot’s voice tells Amanda that on Thursday he will get his promotion and qualify for the company’s insurance and pension plans, and then he can spend more time with her. The following morning, as Elliot prepares to return to the office, he hears Amanda and his other two children, Diane and Danny, mention that today is Diane’s seventeenth birthday. Realizing he forgot to buy a gift, Elliot tells Diane that after Collins assigns him a company car on Thursday, she can drive the family station wagon. Elliot recalls that on his ninth birthday, his father dressed in a bunny costume and wore it for a week because the zipper broke. As Diane prepares to drive him to work, Elliot reminds Joan, the attractive lady next door, that they have a date for his company banquet on Wednesday night. Downtown, as Elliot rides the elevator to his office, a Collins executive, Mr. Seymour, congratulates him for being entrusted to handle the big merger on Thursday. The last to leave the elevator, Elliot steps off seconds before the cable breaks and sends the car smashing into the basement. Later, hurrying to a meeting at the Union Bank, Elliot flags down a taxicab driven by Curtis Burch, a crazed Satan worshipper. Curtis zigzags through traffic at high speed and smashes through the side of a bridge, dropping himself and Elliot into the river. Elliot escapes, but when he climbs out of the water and returns to the bridge, a policeman cannot see him and a bus drives through him. Elliot walks home, passes through the closed front door, and falls halfway through the floor. The kids can see but cannot hear him. When one of them turns on the lights, Elliot disappears. Danny, a budding magician, congratulates his father on doing an excellent trick. Diane turns the lights back off, and Elliot reappears. Playing charades, he informs them that he is a ghost. Suddenly, Elliot floats through the ceiling, flies into the sky, and lands on the desk of Sir Edith Moser in London, England. Sir Edith, who pronounces his name “Eddith,” tells Elliot he summoned him because there was a disturbance in the “spirit ether” on Elliot’s way to the “hereafter.” Elliot demands to return home until Thursday, in order to provide for his children, because he cashed in his life insurance policy and mortgaged the house to pay for his late wife’s medical bills. Sir Edith doubts Elliot is able to make it beyond Wednesday, but agrees to send him back, after first synchronizing Elliot’s lips with the sound of his voice. When Elliot arrives home, he is able to talk to his children. His boss, Emery Collins, telephones, demanding to know why Elliot missed the important negotiations meeting at the bank. Elliot assures Collins he will be in the office tomorrow. The next morning, Diane drives Elliot, Danny, and Amanda to his office. The kids draw the curtains and turn the lights low so that Elliot is visible, then leave. Elliot’s secretary, Carol, informs him that he is scheduled that day to take his life insurance physical, which is required before Thursday. Elliot telephones Diane and tells her to bring him a hat, overcoat, scarf, sunglasses, and tape cassette player. Wrapping the scarf around his head and wearing the other clothing, he is visible as he goes to the doctor’s office. A nurse sends him to a room where he has to disrobe, so Elliot turns down the lights to make himself visible. When a doctor listens to his heart, Elliot holds the cassette player behind his back, playing a recording of a heartbeat. Sent to the X-ray room, he holds a medical skeleton in front of the machine as the nurse steps into the next room to take his X-ray. He steals a urine specimen from another patient. Later, as Diane drives her father home, she stops when she sees her boyfriend, Tony Ricker. He invites himself into the passenger seat, forcing the invisible Elliot to squeeze into the middle, but when Tony makes a sexual advance toward Diane, Elliot shoves him out of the car. At home, a nosy neighbor boy named Stuart observes strange things happening at the Hopper house. When Joan drops by to see Elliot, he sends Amanda to tell her he is not available. Elliot’s son, Danny, asks him to help with the “trunk of doom,” a magician’s act he is set to perform for school career day. Suddenly, Mr. Collins and other executives arrive at Elliot’s door, demanding to continue the negotiations. While Danny takes the men into a darkened room, Elliot hurries next door in his “invisible man” costume to apologize to Joan, then runs back home to conduct business. Across the street, the neighbor boy, Stuart, observes the strange figure through binoculars and telephones Elliot during the executive negotiations. He threatens to go to the newspapers with the news that Elliot is a space alien if he does not give him $50,000. Elliot briefly excuses himself and floats across the street to accost Stuart and show his true ghost-like state, which causes Stuart to faint. By the time Elliot returns to the house, the executives have gone. The telephone rings, Elliot answers, and Tony Ricker asks for Dianne in a disrespectful manner. Elliot spirits himself through the telephone line, partly emerges from Tony’s telephone as an astral figure, and orders the terrified teenager to never call Diane again. On Wednesday, the following day, Danny goes to school with his “trunk of doom,” worried the trick will not work. Diane is happy to see Tony at school, but he runs from her in terror. Elliot goes to work, darkens his office, and begins a slide show presentation for the other executives. Meanwhile, Danny’s classmates lock him in chains. He climbs into the trunk, and students close it shut. When Danny drops a hidden key out of his mouth, however, he is stuck. Diane telephones her father that Danny has gotten in trouble. Elliot leaves the business meeting and floats to the school. Invisible in the lighted classroom, he picks up the trunk and sets it on the teacher’s desk. Reaching inside, he retrieves the key so Danny can unlock his chains, then opens the lid and lifts Danny up like a levitating yogi. The teacher and students are awed by the trick. Hurrying back to the office, Elliot encounters his boss, Mr. Collins, who fires him. Elliot goes home to tell the kids he no longer has a job. His image begins to flicker. Joan from next door arrives fully dressed in evening attire and reminds Elliot he invited her to the banquet. Unable to continue the ruse, Elliot confesses he is a ghost and proves it by turning on a light. Joan screams. Suddenly, Sir Edith Moser arrives to inform Elliot that he is not really a ghost because he is not dead. He is a spirit whose body is still alive somewhere, but he must find it quickly. Sir Edith remembers only one other such case in America: a man who wore a bunny suit for several days until he was able to return to his body. Elliot exclaims that the “bunny suit” man was his own father. Sir Edit surmises that the phenomenon must be hereditary, which prompts the children to wonder if the same might happen to them. Elliot cannot remember just where he escaped from the river, so they contact police and hospitals. When Diane falls downstairs and is knocked unconscious, Elliot telephones for an ambulance. At the hospital emergency room, as Diane lies on a table surrounded by doctors and nurses, her spirit rises and floats into the next room. Elliot demands she return to her body, but Diane claims she is having too much fun. Floating through other rooms, she sees her father lying unconscious in the intensive care unit, but the chart on his bed has the name of the cab driver, “Curtis Burch.” She brings Elliot into the room, and promises she will return to her body if he returns to his. Elliot’s spirit lies down in his body. His eyes open as he revives from a coma. Diane revives in the ER as her spirit returns. Both father and daughter race into the corridor, and the other two children join them in a family embrace. They hurry outside, where a taxi driver pulls up and a frightened woman gets out. Looking into the cab, Elliot sees Curtis Burch. The madman announces, “I am yours to command, Evil Master.” +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.