“A Ghost, an Officer, and a Gentleman”
In 1990 there was an enduring film about a couple who loved each other so much that even death couldn’t interfere. No, I’m not talking about that movie with Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore which name escapes me at the moment. No, I’m talking about the masterpiece Ghosts Can’t Do It which re-teams the filmmaking masters Bo and John Derek. First with their adventurous Tarzan, the Ape Man and then their seductive Bolero, Ghosts Can’t Do It completes the terrific trilogy of Mr. and Mrs. Derek.
Along with this classic, another film was honored with the 1990 Razzie. The Adventures of Ford Fairlane is an action packed extravaganza starring the megastar Andrew Dice Clay who quickly rocketed to stardom and captured America’s hearts after this epic. Directed by Renny Harlin whose previous film, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4, got him this coveted directing job, the film clearly shows the making of a true auteur.
And on the other side of the aisle, the Academy Awards selected Dances With Wolves as the Best Picture for 1990. Kevin Costner’s directorial debut, he stars in this western set during the Civil War and was praised for his work. However, some were upset that it was chosen over such films as that one ghost movie with Patrick Swayze and Martin Scorsese’s GoodFellas as the best movie of the year. After analyzing these three films perhaps it will be easier to decide what film truly deserves to be remembered after all these years.
Ghosts Can’t Do It – “One star. Even I was bored by this one, and that’s not easy to do with me. I’d give this one no stars but darn it, Bo, when you look at me with your mouth partially open….” Mister-6, IMDb
Dances With Wolves – “’Dances With Wolves’ is a gigantic achievement, an endowment of riches.” Hal Hinson, The Washington Post
The Adventures of Ford Fairlane – “He’s unfunny, he’s brash and he’s a complete dick. BUT that’s fitting for the character he plays.” tyler-and-jack, IMDb
Dances With Wolves is about Union soldier Lieutenant John Dunbar who goes on a journey to explore the Native American lifestyle before it dies away. I have seen this film numerous times, I distinctly remember watching it when it first came out in 1990 and I was only five years old. However, I only watched the theatrical cut. But since there are two films this must be compared to, I have decided to review the four hour director’s cut which has nearly one hour of extra footage not shown in the theatrical version.
The film opens with the Lieutenant injured after battle. Fearing he will get his leg amputated, he chooses to head straight into the firing range of the enemy in hopes to get killed. After unsuccessfully killing himself, he is instead labeled a hero for his fearless ride leading the Union to victory and is thus given permission to take leave. He chooses to head to the western plains and is given a deserted post as his home.
Lt. Dunbar keeps a diary while at his post, and the passages are his narration throughout the film alongside the sketches he draws. The sketches bear a striking resemblance to the images over the opening credits of Ghosts Can’t Do It with Bo Derek’s character Kate and her husband Scott played by two-time Oscar winner Anthony Quinn riding on horses together.
Now, during my series I have captured stills from all the films to go along with the essays, which I have managed to capture from DVDs. However, the only version of Ghosts Can’t Do It I managed to find was on VHS, so I am unable to provide images to accompany the text. Instead, I have decided to provide images from films that involve ghosts, to at least give you some sort of vision of what the film is like.
At the start of Ghosts Can’t Do It, the beautiful Kate, whose Sioux name is Acts Without Clothes, and her elder husband Scott, whose Sioux name is Needed a Check, are riding horses in the snowy Wyoming fields. Scott falls off his horse and has a heart attack, scaring Kate. Running to him, she holds him in her arms. Though some nearing death may ask to kiss their loved ones one last time, Scott asks instead to lovingly bite Kate’s lower lip, which is terribly romantic. After his near fatal heart attack, Scott rests at his winter home but is in pain and fears things will only get worse, especially when the doctor tells him that an injection in the belly will do him good. Referred to as Great One by his wife Kate, which I’m sure Kevin Costner would laughingly ask if Scott gave himself that title, she tries to comfort him in his poor state. But following in his hero Ernest Hemmingway’s footsteps, rather than getting a shot in the stomach, Scott decides to shoot himself in the face, successfully killing himself. And he wasn’t even a lieutenant.
Unlike Dances With Wolves, Ghosts Can’t Do It does not have a narration, but luckily, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane does and makes up for it. As the title character, whose Sioux name is Respectful To Women, Andrew Dice Clay is a Rock n Roll Detective, which explains why Steve Perry produced this, who I’m gonna assume is that Steve Perry. Ford Fairlane woos all the women by insulting them and they can’t seem to get their hands off of him. Like Ghosts Can’t Do It, this film opens with a death, but this time it’s not a suicide but instead is a potential murder. Bobby Black, the lead singer of the rock group The Black Plague dies suddenly on stage for unknown reasons. With this initial mystery and series of future questions, the fuckin’ Ford Fairlane is on the case.
Shortly after Bobby Black’s death, Ford is asked by his asshole DJ friend Johnny Crunch, whose Sioux name is Soothing Voice, surprisingly played by Gilbert Gottfried, to find Zuzu Petals who might have a connection to the death. Crunch is a successful shock jock who works at KODS, a station known for their radio contest in which if they call you and you answer the phone saying “KODS is gonna make me rich” you win one million dollars. Of course, shortly after Ford leaves the station, Johnny Crunch dies as well.
Back on the prairie, Dunbar has been fixing up his post and received several visits. A lone wolf frequently stops by his post, so much so that he calls him Two Socks because of his snowy white feet. And while Dunbar has a curious wolf companion, Ford Fairlane has a pet Koala bear. Along with the wolf, Dunbar gets several visits from the native Sioux tribe, in particular the holy man Kicking Bird who has very distinct hair, he could even fit in at the clubs with Ford Fairlane. Kicking Bird’s fierce companion Wind In His Hair stops by as well. After several encounters and attempts to communicate with each other, it is discovered that a fellow tribe member, Stands with a Fist, played by Mary McDonnell, once knew English, so progress was quickly made. It seems like the main focus for both Dunbar and the Sioux is the search for buffalo, also known as tatanka.
Coincidentally, after Scott’s death, Kate mourns at his grave wearing a gigantic black buffalo coat and hood. I guess Kate has seen buffalo. As Kate weeps, Scott is greeted by his guardian angel, played by Julie Newmar, whose Sioux name is Floating Pussy. She proves to him that she is indeed an angel because she has wings on the back of her hands. Many times when an angel appears it gives inspirational words of wisdom, but because of Julie Newmar’s beauty, perhaps she merely forgot to tell Scott anything important. Regardless, after his encounter with Julie the angel, Scott appears before his Kate telling her not to grieve. In extremely impressive visual effect, some may say Scott’s ghostly appearances during the rest of the film looks as though it’s just his reflection in a wading pool, but it’s certainly much more than that. While others around her at the funeral don’t seem to care, Kate looks up to the sky talking to thin air while communicating with Scott. Filled with sadness, she cries out that it sucks what happened, to which Scott replies telling her not to say that word, “sucks”. He tells her not to cry, she needs to “stand tall, titties out”, which was coincidentally Stands With a Fist’s original Sioux name before the stupid MPAA got to it. He tells her she needs to go on vacation to the Bahamas as they had planned before he died.
Meanwhile, back in Ford Fairland, the mystery keeps getting more complex. So complex in fact that some would say the plot is so filled with complex webs and characters that you can’t follow it. But with Fairlane’s narration and ability to investigate it’s very easy to follow. After all, with lines such as “suck my Dick Tracy”, “Milli Vanilli paid us off in bicycle shorts and hair extensions”, and “I’m so terrific I have my own toll free number: 1-800-UNBELIEVABLE”, he makes the case as easy as a virgin on prom night, oh! And he’s also got his secretary Jazz and his penis Stanley to help him solve the case.
Continuing his search for Zuzu, Ford stops by record producer Julian Grendel played by the amazing actor Wayne Newton, whose Sioux name is Financially Secure. With no help from Julian, Ford doesn’t want to have his visit a complete waste so he performs a song at the studio. Luckily, at the funeral for Bobby Black, Ford finds Zuzu Petals who turns out is a groupie for the late rock star. Though he’s made a break in his case, he is constantly pursued by a hitman named Smiley, played by Robert Englund, and is also harassed by police detective Ed O’Neil who is still pissed at Ford because he prevented him from making it big as a disco singer. I’m just summing up the basics, the storyline is a lot more intricate as you watch it.
Back on the prairie, Dunbar and the Sioux also made a break. With no thanks from Bo Derek, the buffalo have been spotted and soon the natives and Dunbar start hunting. After making their acquaintance and participating in a successful buffalo hunt, the Sioux tribe welcome Dunbar into their home and even give him a name, Dances With Wolves after seeing him play with Two Socks. They even let him eat part of the buffalo heart in celebration. After all we learned from our ghostly fellow that real mean don’t eat quiche, so Dunbar was right in eating heart.
Right when she arrives in the Bahamas, Kate immediately sheds her clothing and wanders around the beach talking to her dead husband. She is so miserable in the tropical paradise because she is lonely without the Great One and she makes it extremely clear that she will never be happy again because she insists that ghosts can’t do it. When a young, good looking seaman Fausto spots Kate from afar, he immediately wants to have his way with her, as he so eagerly tells her once meeting her. After Kate and Fausto first meet, Scott gets a brilliant idea. He believes that if Fausto dies, he can possess the corpse and in his new muscular body he can bring back that loving feeling to Kate. Maybe that’s why Scott wasn’t too upset when the first thing Kate did on the island was strip down on the beach and frolic around. Geez, you’d think she just graduated from high school or something.
Here’s where the plot thickens for all three films. Though Dunbar and the Sioux have become close friends and things seemed nice between them after the buffalo hunt, things aren’t as good as they seem. The Pawnee tribe are quickly closing in and plan on attacking the Sioux. Dunbar wants to join in the battle and even equips them with his artillery which proves to be a vital part in their eventual victory.
Meanwhile, Kate must go on a battle of her own. After a lot of stripping on the island in the Bahamas, she must travel to Hong Kong to settle some of Scott’s business deals with some rich guys including Donald Trump, whose Sioux name is Retrieved His Scalp. However, the businessmen aren’t too keen on her closing some deals, so they plan to stop her. Between meetings, she decides to try something new and strips down in the bathhouse and swims naked in the pool. Suddenly a stranger appears and she casually asks what he wants, not afraid of her body. After making some casual talk and jokingly saying he would like to rape her, he forces her to take sleeping pills so she will miss the next meeting with the business partners. Dunbar should be happy Kicking Bird didn’t try to rape him when he was swimming naked in the pond. As usual, Kate talks to the air, asking Scott for help while pills are being shoved down her throat. Luckily, Scott’s ghostly nagging kept her awake and she managed to make the meeting and close the deal with Donald.
Back in Fairland, after numerous characters appearing, then disappearing, then reappearing, we somehow discover what Ford must find. Apparently three CDs are circulating that, when played together will reveal some vital information and crack the case. Zuzu has one of the CDs, but Ford’s not the only one that knows this. Freddy Krueger kidnaps Zuzu and a chase at Bobby Black’s cemetery ensues. And just like in Ghosts Can’t Do It, Freddy casually talks about raping Zuzu. They all have such nice conversation in these films, if only Dunbar had understood all the talk the Sioux were trying to say to him at the start of the Dances With Wolves, he probably missed out on a lot of rape offers. As sexy as the cemetery in Ghosts Can’t Do It and as exciting as the buffalo hunt in Dances With Wolves, Ford zigzags through the graveyard in a hearse avoiding the tombstones. Ford just can’t seem to get out of danger, people always seem to be hunting him. And like Ford, first the Pawnee are after Dances With Wolves, now his old Union pals are after him as well. Oh, and men always seem to be pouncing on Kate as well.
All three main characters are in quite a problem now after a short moment of success. After getting a hold of the Zuzu and acquiring some of the CDs, Ford comes home to his apartment trashed and his koala dead. And after Dances With Wolves victory against the Pawnee, shortly after his old Union pals show up, kidnap him, and shoot his wolf. However, Kate has the biggest issue of all, after closing the deal with Trump, she’s about to celebrate on the tropical island but realizes she’s “never danced before, not with a person”. Luckily, Quinn manages to show up as a ghost and dance with Kate. Eat your heart out Demi Moore and Whoopi.
With only thirty minutes left of the four hour epic Dances with Wolves and… holy hell we’re only a little over halfway through Ghost Can’t Do It and Ford Fairlane. Okay, the Sioux come to rescue Dances With Wolves and defeat the Union soldiers. Meanwhile, Ford Fairlane goes to a sorority party, gets all three CDs, climbs the Capitol Records building in Hollywood, and finds out Wayne Newton is the mastermind behind the deaths, and then he burns Wayne to death in front of a rock concert. Oh, and at the end of the movie he becomes a millionaire by winning a radio contest. And in Kate’s world, after dancing some Flashdance moves, she dances with Fausto, the guy she met on the beach earlier, who once again wants to rape her, but this time Bo karate kicks and is about to kill him but has a change of heart and stops, which pisses off Quinn the ghost. Fausto gets sent to prison, but gets released shortly after and plans to steal some pearls, all the while Kate plans on killing him because she wants to make it up to her dead husband who gives her permission to kill him if she really wants to. Luckily, Fausto instead has somehow drowned, so Kate didn’t have to commit murder, and Quinn manages to jump into his body. Now Fausto, talking with Anthony Quinn’s voice, marries Kate and they go back to the ranch and have passionate sex while the angel Julie Newmar watches.
All three films end rather happily. Kate and Quinn are together again, and now she can have sex with him, even if it is in the body of the guy who constantly wanted to rape her. Even though Ford Fairlane’s house blew up and his Jimmy Hendrix guitar was destroyed, at least he won a million dollars and it turns out his koala bear didn’t in fact die. And though Dances with Wolves had to leave the tribe in order to protect them from future attacks by the Union, and according to the end text, only about dozen years later would the Sioux would surrender and the American Frontier would disappear, at least we find out, like the koala bear, Two Socks didn’t die.
So how do the three films compare? Though Dances with Wolves is beautiful looking, you’d think at four hours long it could at least have a story filled with plot twists, dozens of characters, a couple musical numbers, or at least a few sexy naked swimming in the pond filled with dead deer. And when Stone Calf was killed during the Pawnee attack, why didn’t they have a big funeral blowout where all of his groupies came to mourn? It’s little things like this that kept Dances With Wolves from being a true classic. In contrast, Ghosts Can’t Do It had a clear vision in mind, a beginning, a middle, and an end. Kate’s husband dies, she goes to find a new husband that her dead lover can possess, she succeeds and they have sex. Similarly, Ford Fairlane acts like a dick, he has to solve a case while acting like a dick, he solves the case and acts like a dick. All in all, the four hour Dances With Wolves beat out that one movie about the ghost for Best Picture in 1990. That ghost movie with Patrick Swayze was about a man who was in love with someone, he died, and he had to solve who murdered him while his lover mourned his loss. And the Worst film of 1990 was a tie between Ghosts Can’t Do It, about a man who was in love with someone and died as his lover mourned his loss and The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, about a man who has to solve a murder mystery.
[author image=”https://fbcdn-profile-a.akamaihd.net/hprofile-ak-xfp1/v/t1.0-1/c0.50.200.200/1621680_10104645198686414_160815090_n.jpg?oh=036db60b27eab5d9a0b563c192df3035&oe=55671725&__gda__=1433249309_f7b7cd483af8a083e3454fce2eb0163a” ]Jeff spends too much time watching movies, but when he’s not watching them, he helps make them by working in the grip and electric department. Some would say he chose this profession because of the thrill of being on set and helping create art, but the real reason is most G&E don’t need to wear pants. Along with being a film nerd, Jeff enjoys riding his bike everywhere around the Southern California and watching his friends perform improv.[/author]