Watch this really scary trailer for Magic (1978), one of Anthony Hopkins movies that was always very underrated but appears deservedly on our top ten Anthony Hopkins movies list.
Starring Anthony Hopkins, as Corky Withers, the psychologically disturbed ventriloquist and Ann Margaret (Peggy Snow), Corky’s high school love, this movie is a quirky, terrifying love story that delivers thrills and tension throughout as Fats the foul mouthed ventriloquist’s dummy seems to come to life amidst a love triangle involving Corky, the unhappily married Peggy and Duke (Ed Lauter) her husband.
Directed by Richard Attenborough, Magic is adapted from the novel by William Goldman who also did the screenplay for this unsettling movie – a movie you will either love or hate.
Corky Withers is a hard-working, struggling magician who lacks the charisma to engage his audience in the seedy night spots he performs in, until Fats the dummy and him get together and become a hit act. Corky’s mentor and agent, Ben (Burgess Meredith) sees any eye to the main chance with a TV show starring the two but Corky has other ideas and returns to his home town where he meets up with Peggy, charming her with his magic tricks. Naturally this provokes Duke, her husband and previous best buddy of Corky’s to be very jealous but Fats too is jealous.
Anthony Hopkins actually learnt the art of ventriloquism for this demanding part and still today has the skill of ventriloquism as well as immitating other people’s voices adeptly. Hopkins gives Fats a squeeky, scary high pitched voice rich with paranoia.
Slowly Fats appears to take over Corky’s persona, saying unspoken words that Corky himself cannot bring himself to say and controlling him completely. Clearly Corky has issues, his agent believes he has a fear of success but it materialises that it is a personality disorder he suffers from, hearing the dummy Fats talking to him off stage and Corky’s real fear is of failure.
One of the most memorable scenes in the movie Magic is where Corky’s agent comes to see him and finds him arguing with Fats the dummy. Ben Greene, nick-named Gangrene by Corky, insists that Corky make the dummy be silent for just five minutes but Corky can’t do it. His reliance on his dummy is the outward expression of how he feels about himself and what he thinks he can achieve, both professionally and personally. The failure that he fears so much perhaps has nothing to do with his career as a magician, but in who he actually is as a man and how he relates to other people. Having rekindled this special relationship with the woman he used to love, he can’t seem to fully commit to her. Fats keeps getting between the two.
Corky’s agent eventually demands that Corky seek help and events take a turn….
The score is atmospheric, by Jerry Goldsmith, lighting and shot composition are spot on, and the pace of the movie keeps the tension high. You never know just what Corky (or Fats) is going to do or exactly how the story will develop…….
Ann Margaret gives a credible performance, having been previously awarded 1962’s Most Promising Female Newcomer and Hopkins as ever, gives all in one of the top ten Anthony Hopkins movies.