“A terrifying love story” about the romantic relationship between ventriloquist/magician Corky (Anthony Hopkins) and his ventriloquist dummy Fats—er, I mean with former high school friend Peggy Ann (Ann-Margret). Corky, poised on the verge of his own variety show and thus instant fame, flips out over the requirement of taking a medical exam (probably because it would reveal he’s pretty darn unstable) and heads to a cabin in the woods. He and Peggy Ann begin a torrid affair, despite Peggy Ann being married to grizzled salesman Duke (Ed Lauter). Fats of course doesn’t want to share, and decides Peggy Ann has to go.
Magic is one of the few films I enjoy William Goldman’s adaptation of—probably because he wrote the book the movie is based on, which I was also surprised by how much I liked. It has the balance of being faithful to the book while cutting out the basically unfilmable parts like Corky’s childhood.
There are lots of creepy things about the film (all of which pale in comparison to the terrifying theatrical trailer, which I included below and you should watch right now. Go ahead. I’ll wait.) Fats is scary in the sense that all ventriloquist dummies are unholy. Also, he’s designed to look like Anthony Hopkins, who is also pretty eerie. There is also the concept that we’re not 100% sure whether Fats is alive or Corky is delusional. Either way, Corky is a ticking time bomb, and once he starts killing people, there’s no telling where he’ll stop.
At the same time, the film is emotionally involving and sad. Corky is so dedicated and talented that it’s a shame it all goes to waste. He’s also fairly sweet and likable most of the time (he does have some anger issues). I rooted for him throughout. Hopkins puts in an amazing performance, both as Corky and as Fats. I had a like/dislike relationship with Peggy Ann; sometimes she’s fun and spunky, but other times she’s needy and childlike. Check it out if you’re in the mood for a young and versatile Anthony Hopkins, directed by a young and versatile Richard Attenborough (yes, the guy from Jurassic Park).