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Cody Stokes' 'The Ghost Who Walks' Makes The Leap From St. Louis Festival To Netflix

Actors Garland Scott and Linda Kennedy
The Ghost Who Walks
Actors Garland Scott, at left, and the late Linda Kennedy portray Nolan and Dunya in Cody Stokes' "The Ghost Who Walks."

When Cody Stokes decided to shoot “The Ghost Who Walks” in his native St. Louis, it wasn’t because he was trying to make the city itself a character or was set on showcasing certain regional icons. In fact, the Gateway Arch doesn’t make a single appearance. But Stokes did choose St. Louis as his backdrop with good reason — and for viewers who know the region well, there’s plenty of local imagery to enjoy over the course of the fast-paced, 106-minute film.

“I think that the advantage is this is just an untapped visual landscape,” Stokes told St. Louis Public Radio’s Jonathan Ahl last summer during the 19th Annual Whitaker St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase. “There’s really not a lot of films shot here that make it to a wider audience or get seen by many people at all.” And now, “The Ghost Who Walks” has indeed reached movie lovers near and far. It’s currently streaming on Netflix.

The plot centers around Nolan (Garland Scott), who is released from prison after five years, instead of many more, after ratting out his former boss. Nolan is on a mission to reunite with the love of his life and meet his young daughter for the first time but must also outrun those who want him dead.

St. Louis native Cody Stokes is the film's director.
Credit RJ Hartbeck
St. Louis native Cody Stokes is the film's director.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, Stokes joined host Sarah Fenske to talk about the film, which marks his feature-length directorial debut and counts among its talented cast the late Linda Kennedy, a beloved figure in St. Louis theater circles who passed away in August 2019.

Stokes said it’s been rewarding to see the movie take off like it has.

“Everyone who was involved in the project has obviously been a believer and been very proud of it,” he said. “But it was quite surprising to kind of see it finally find an audience on Netflix. You know, we made the movie with the intention, of course, of getting the film seen and distributed, but to wake up one morning and to have found your film in the top 10 movies being watched in North America, that was truly surprising to us.”

Asked about what he thinks has drawn so many viewers to the film, Stokes said his sense is that while it hits on “very familiar tropes” in the crime/thriller genre, it’s also “not a cookie-cutter film, and that was done very intentionally.”

Listen to the full conversation:

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill, Lara Hamdan and Joshua Phelps. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.

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Evie is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

Send questions and comments about this story to feedback@stlpublicradio.org.