Magicians assistant Corky performs disastrously at his first solo appearance. He is given a ventriloquist dummy called Fats to improve his act and within a few years Corky is at the height of fame. However, Fats has developed a mind of his own and wants to control his master.
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I cannot even begin to tell you how terrified I was of the 1978 film "Magic". Actually, I never got around to seeing the film until recently. What scared the blazes out of me were the darn commercials that ran on television when the film played in the theater. In 1978, I would have been seven or eight years old, depending on when the movie came out. No wonder I was scared! Those advertisements for the film surely rank as one of the most effective marketing campaigns in motion picture history. If you have a copy of the DVD, check out the extras' section on the disc. The ads are there, and they're still horrifying. All we see in the television spot is a closeup on Fats, the main character's dummy, as he recites a poem. It's the music playing in the background, and how the dummy says the words and how he looks when he speaks them, that still send shivers down my spine. I ran out of the room with my hands over my ears when I first heard the commercials, and I felt like doing so again recently. Scary. So scary, in fact, that I spent YEARS looking under my bed every night just to make sure that the maniacal little dummy wasn't waiting for me.Now that I can bring myself to watch the movie without screaming over those commercials, it's nice to see "Magic" and realize it's an excellent, chilling little film. The protagonist of the story is Corky (Anthony Hopkins), a failed magician looking for the one thing that will launch his star. Early on we get to see the utter horridness of his act. It's bad largely because he's so insecure and hesitant onstage. Flash forward roughly a year and we see that our hero has found the golden ticket to Hollywood. Corky managed to construct a highly entertaining ventriloquist act with his dummy Fats. We see him in action in front of a packed house, and it's like he's a totally different person. Confident, funny, not sweating like Richard Nixon on crank--Corky is ready for the big time. His seasoned agent Ben Greene (Burgess Meredith) thinks his client is ready for bigger and better things, too, but there's a slight problem. The television network wants our man (not the dummy) to take a physical as a precondition for employment. Corky flat out refuses to take the examination, and runs off to his childhood stomping grounds somewhere in the Catskills in order to lie low and clear his head.What's the big deal about taking a physical, anyway? Well, Corky knows he's slipping mentally. He can feel it day by day. His old insecurities never really went away. They actually worsened, and now they manifest themselves through Fats. Call it a split personality. Call it schizophrenia. Whatever the case, our main character is crazy, crazy, CRAZY. He prays the trip will help his condition, and hope seems within reach when he hooks up with his childhood flame Peggy (Ann-Margret). She's in a relatively loveless relationship with the overbearing Duke (Ed Lauter), and is just looking for a way to get out. So is Corky. The two quickly come to the realization that they could run off and live a new life together. Alas, Fats isn't interested in a new life. The dummy wants to remain at the center of Corky's existence, and he's willing to do whatever it takes to win the battle going on in the magician's soul, including committing a series of heinous murders. It soon becomes apparent that no one in Corky's inner circle is safe--including Corky. The situation worsens when Peggy refuses to leave without telling Duke her plans. Too bad her old man isn't around anymore..."Magic" is pure magic, a vastly underrated suspense and horror thriller that undeservedly slipped into semi-obscurity for nearly thirty years. The film simply sparkles with creativity, excellent performances, and memorable sequences that stick in your head long after the credits roll. The idea of using a dummy to represent one half of a schizophrenic personality was a stroke of genius. Bolstering this theme are the performances from Anthony Hopkins (amazing) to Burgess Meredith (excellent) to Ann-Margret (also excellent). A great cast always helps make a film great, and "Magic" is no exception to that rule. Also giving the movie added vigor are several memorable sequences. I can think of three off the top of head. There's an amazing scene between Meredith and Hopkins where the agent asks Corky to ignore the dummy for just five minutes. The fact that our protagonist can't do it speaks volumes about his deteriorating mental state. Another sequence involving Corky, Peggy, and a deck of cards underscores his condition as well. Finally, when we see the dummy "manipulating" Corky instead of the other way around...well...prepare yourself for some serious scares. Thanks go to everyone, from director Richard Attenborough on down, for a job extremely well done.The DVD version of "Magic," brought to us from Dark Sky Films, exceeds expectations. The picture and audio quality look and sound excellent. Extras abound. We get trailers, an old interview with Anthony Hopkins, Ann-Margret make up footage, a still gallery, an interview with cinematographer Victor Kemper (who reveals several intriguing cast changes that make one wonder what the film might have looked like had they went with their initial plans), a lengthy "Fats and Friends" documentary, and previews and radio spots for the film. Fats himself even shows up to say a few words. I'm so glad I finally got the opportunity to see this film on disc. I'm also thankful for the opportunity to commiserate with so many other folks my age about those horrific commercials. It's almost therapeutic to learn I wasn't the only one running for the door, hands clamped firmly over my ears and shrieking like a banshee!
If You Like Psyccho You Really Should See This Movie. A very diturbing movie and a great chiller and great acting also if like dolls it will really freak you out.
Here's a movie that haunts you long after it's over. When failedmagicianfinally finds fame and acceptance after introducing a foul-mouthedventriloquist's dummy to his act, his grip on reality starts to slip asthedummy takes on the dominant half of his personality. Anthony Hopkins'Corky is an outstanding study in nervous collapse, the strength of hisperformance almost making Fats the dummy a separate and individual memberofthe cast. All the performances are absolutely top-notch, especiallyAnn-Margret as a childhood sweetheart and Burgess Meredith as a"crusty-but-benign" (thanks, "Network"!) agent. The upstate New Yorksetting is suitably gloomy and doom-laden, and Jerry Goldsmith's superbscore strikes just the right ominous note. Highly recommended for fansofintelligent psychological horror.
This review is from: Magic (DVD) Richard Attenborough's 1978 opus MAGIC is a minor masterpiece of cinematic horror that, while oft overlooked, arguably helped pave the way to the slasher craze of late '70s and early '80s (it was released within a mere month of John Carpenter's now better known HALLOWEEN). Though Attenborough and scripter William Goldman--who adapted from his own identically titled bestseller--play down the grislier slasher aspects of the novel, they do generate genuine psychological terror with the help of an outstanding performance from actor Anthony Hopkins (yes, THAT Anthony Hopkins, who would later leave a bigger mark on horror cinema portraying another fictional loon, the infamous Hannibal Lecter). Excellent supporting performances from Ann-Margaret, as Hopkins' love interest, and Burgess Meredeth add to the believability and, in turn, the scare factor of this delightful genre gem.Hopkins portrays Corky Withers, a painfully shy but talented magician who overcomes his stage fright and ignites a meteoric rise to fame when he takes on a sidekick--an extroverted and bawdy ventriloquist's dummy he names Fats. As Corky's act becomes more and more popular and draws the attention of big-time agents and Hollywood brass, introverted and insecure Corky allows the artificial Fats personality to take control. And Fats will do anything--ANYTHING!--to help Corky keep his split personality a secret.True, the plot of MAGIC is not totally original. Not only had a few cinema offerings already told the same basic story--1929's THE GREAT GABBO and a segment of the 1945 British anthology DEAD OF NIGHT, to name a few--but TV's ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS (in an episode entitled "The Glass Eye") and THE TWILIGHT ZONE (in a segment called "The Dummy") also featured startlingly similar subject matter. Still, MAGIC has two things going for it that make it rise way above the miasmic story line--the superb dramatic (and, surprisingly, ventriloquistic) talents of Anthony Hopkins, and a scene featuring the eye-poppingly gorgeous bare [...] of the beautiful and talented Ann-Margaret. Seriously, though, the performances in MAGIC, especially that from Hopkins, make the worn plot seem compelling and fresh--not that Ann-Margaret's naked [...]don't add a certain allure--and fans of the horror and thriller genres who haven't seen the film already should definitely seek it out.Fortunately, the new DVD release of MAGIC from Dark Sky Films makes it easier than ever for genre fans to see this cinematic jewel. Not only does the disc offer a pristine widescreen digital transfer made from original 35mm negatives, it also offers some pretty cool bonus material. Included are a featurette in which ventriloquist Dennis Alwood, who was a consultant on the film, discusses the challenges in creating the Fats dummy and in tutoring Anthony Hopkins in the art of ventriloquism; interviews with Mr. Hopkins; TV and radio spots in both English and Spanish; and much more.In short, 1978's MAGIC is a great horror flick that, unfortunately, has been eclipsed by other more sensationalized genre films from the same era. But thanks to the folks at Dark Sky Films, horror fans can now see a near-perfect copy of this wonderful film, and serious genre fans will definitely want to add the DVD to their collections.
Just like to correct a small comment about 10 Rillington Place beingshot in the actual house of the John Christie murders. Actually, themovie was shot just across the street from 10 Rillington as it wasessentially the same house in every respect. I have seen actualphotographs of 10 Rillington Place and it is even creepier in photosthan in the movie! When these houses were initially built they wereconsidered at the time to be houses of the middle-class, which is hardto believe in that the wash-house and bathroom were both on the mainfloor and was used by all the people within the house. "Magic" was anunderrated movie and at least Anthony Hopkins should have beennominated for an Oscar for he had to learn to be a ventriloquist toplay the role. It is also interesting to note a young David OgdenStiers in a small role prior to his MASH days.
For 1978, this movie had its scary moments. Sir Anthony Hopkins and Ann-Margret did a wonderful job in Richard attenborough's adaptation of William Goldman's classic. Lucky for me, I still have the un-edited version on cassette. What I remember most about this film was Corky, the ventriloquist going slowly insane, due to schizophrenia, and romancing his childhood sweetheart, Peggy Ann Snow. The love scene between Anthony Hopkins and Ann-Margret was passionate and beautiful, if not a bit steamy. Nevertheless, the scene was executed well and came out right. Some of the more frightening moments in the film were also executed well. Corky using Fats to kill his agent and Peggy's husband are fine examples. As was Corky going completely insane in the end. I, too, remember the commercial for the film, and it did not bother me as much. Magic was a very good film. The soundtrack by Jerry Goldsmith was really ominous and haunting. It would be great to see Anthony Hopkins and Ann-Margret work in another film together.
Corky and Fats--Fats and Corky--Anthony Hopkins is superb in this Psycho Thriller.Except for Dead of Night-1945 this is the best of it's kind.A.H. is a great paranoid split personality who reveals his alter ego not through himself but through his dummy(Fats)."Abracadabra, I sit on his knee. Presto, change-o, and now he is me. Hocus Pocus, we take her to bed. Magic is fun... when you're dead."This film will give the creeps and Ann-Margret is as sexy as ever.With Burgess Meredith as well.Hopefully it will go to DVD in the future.You won't be disappointed.
This fabulous suspenseful thriller amazed the world in those late Seventies. The notoriety `s fear and the introversion of a failed and shy ventriloquist, will conform an admirable exercise of the purest suspense, arousing inner demons. This work still remains as the greatest horror thriller of that Decade sharing honours with The Omen, The exorcist and the Sisters. Richard Attenborough, Anthony Hopkins and Ann Margret constituted an overwhelming trilogy unable to fail or lose. If you go for the famous "Dead of the night" and watch the last episode in which Michael Redgrave plays a similar role, we can conclude this picture is, perhaps a heartfelt tribute for that legendary movie, considered for many as the Gran daddy of this genre in those times.
A young Anthony Hopkins plays a ventriloquist-cum-failed magician, whoafter initially bombing on his first performance uses 'Fats' aseemingly ordinary ventriloquists dummy in his act. Initially as aprop/sidekick, the funny man in a double act but relying on it as a'crutch' more and more until it appears to his manager (BurgessMeredith) that he is having a nervous breakdown.Magic, is a film that has been done before and in my opinion better.The first was in the 1945 film Dead of Night (or at least a sequencewherein Michael Redgrave plays a demented ventriloquist who believeshis dummy is alive).The second is a classic episode of The Twilight Zone called "The Dummy"written by Rod Serling but based on an unpublished story by Lee Polk.This time the plot device is a "switcheroo". Cliff Robertson playsJerry Etherston convinced his dummy 'Willie' is alive. At the end Willybecomes the ventriloquist (played by George Murdock) and Etherstone thedummy."What's known in the parlance of the times as the old switcheroo, fromboss to blockhead in a few easy lessons. And if you're given tonightclubbing on occasion, check this act. It's called Willie andJerry, and they generally are booked into some of the clubs along the'Grey Night Way' known as the Twilight Zone"The third is a minor Zone episode called "Caesar and Me" in which thedummy frames the ventriloquist for a robbery.It was "The Dummy" - with one of the most chilling final shots of anyTZ episode - a slow camera pan from the grinning, now human Willie tothe dummy of Jerry that has remained seared into my memory.This film is 'of it's time' - very grainy 70s film stock, bleak,sinister, spooky and occasionally terrifying. The sinister orchestralmusic by Jerry Goldsmith helps - but still we are left trying to decidewhether Hopkins is mad or the dummy is really alive.Frightening, eerie, mysterious - probably all of those at the time butwatching now these have paled into mere suspense - the signposts arethere but not quite in plain sight.A good film, yes, almost as good as a Twilight Zone episode but not oneto watch alone or in the dark and really should have ended withnarration - in Rod's inimical style of course.
Corky is an introvert who does not relate very well to people, so he learns to express himself through use if his alter ego, Fats the Dummy. Turns out people love Fats and, by association, Corky. Certainly Corky must realize people understand Fats and Corky are on and the same, right? Perhaps not, for Corky relies increasingly more on Fats to say and do what he himself could easily do, if only he had the confidence to do so. Fats brings Corky fame and fortune, but we all know money cannot buy happiness. Turns out Corky's fame is just the solution for his childhood romance, Peggy Ann Snow, whose wanderlust has not been satisfied by husband Duke's rooted, staid life. Does loser-turned-celeb Corky have what it takes to sweep the once popular Peggy off her feet and take her away from it all? Anthony Hopkins gives a chilling performance as Corky / Fats, and Burgess Meredith shines, as always, as Corky's agent, Ben Greene. Ann-Margret has some very good moment as Peggy, though ultimately her performance is uneven. Very good film!
For fans of Anthony Hopkins' intensity and versatility as an actor, this late-seventies thriller is a shining obscurity. Hopkins plays troubled loner Corky, his years of preparation as a slight-of-hand magician thrust back in his face by a drunk and distracted debut audience, who then redirects his efforts into a ventriloquism act with an engagingly demented dummy-sidekick, Fats. The resulting sudden thrust into national fame causes a very real split within Corky, who has given away far too much of his sublimated soul to his wooden partner, and then finds himself totally dominated by his own creation -- who, it turns out, doesn't draw the line at murder when threatened. Ann Margret plays Corky's now world-weary and vulnerable high school infatuation, and Burgess Meredith is the veteran agent who is the only one to recognize the truth about his client: "Ya ain't in control, kid!" Side note: Hopkins threw himself totally into his role--all of the ventriloquism and slight-of-hand are his own.
Magic is one of those rare cinematic gems that deserves a wider viewership. The story centers around Corky [played to great effect by Anthony Hopkins] who is shy and self-effacing, and desperate for a break in showbiz. His luck turns around when he comes across a ventriloquists' doll, Fats that is incorporated into his act, bringing him fame and fortune. His agent, Ben Green [Meredith Burgess] gets him a TV stint, but Corky refuses to get a physical 'on principle'. He flees in a panic, and ends up in his hometown, where he stops by a rental cabin that, as it turns out, is owned by Peg [Ann Margret] a girl he had a crush on back in high school. This is where things start to escalate, for the worse, as Fats doesn't 'seem' too happy about Corky's affection for Peg, and acts out in a jealous rage...worse still, matters get complicated when the agent, Ben tracks Corky down, and the appearance of Peg's husband. The movie is held together by the spellbinding performance of Anthony Hopkins. He actually trained for the role, and Fats' voice is all his. The frustrations, and conflicts that Corky goes through is vividly evoked by Hopkins' facial expressions and suitably modulated voice. The supporting characters are equally effective - Ann Margret's Peg & Burgess Meredith's Ben are the most convincing. The effects are more old school, no CGI here - but very effective is conveying a sense of menace in the atmosphere, that there is something darker to the relationship between man and doll. Question is: who is orchestrating whom here? Is Corky being controlled by Fats or the other way around, or is there a supernatural undertone here. You'll have to view this movie to find out, but its worth it. The extras are pretty good too - there is a featurette titled "Fats and Friends' that traces the history of ventriloquism & the movie. Also included here is an interview with Hopkins. Final verdict - eminently watchable suspense flick with a psychological twist.
I hadn't seen this film since the seventies. Hopkins was an anonymous actor in those days. Still he brings an enormous performance as the shizophrenic puppeteer, competing against his own puppet.The play of the seventies is still enjoyable according to today's standards.Great film !
Richard Attenborough's Magic (1978) is an exceptional work of cinemathat has so much to offer to the viewer at different levels. Itfeatures Anthony Hopkins in the role of a shy ventriloquist named CorkyWithers. Corky's act in which he uses a dummy to perform on-stage magictricks is an instant success. Corky is at height of his fame andprobably a single step away from becoming an icon. But, things are notas simple as they appear. Believe it or not, but Corky's dummy Fats hasdeveloped a mind of its own! And Corky must learn to control it beforeit's too late. Anthony Hopkins, I daresay, delivers the best performance of his life.The role of Hannibal Lecter may have elevated Hopkins to apotheosis butCorky has a sense of vulnerability that makes it appear far morerealistic than Lecter. A comparison between Lecter and Corky isinevitable for both the characters lie on the brink of insanity...while the former can control it to a great extent the latter is alwaysat the mercy of his vicious alterego. Magic (1978) is a psychologicalthriller of the highest quality. And Hopkins' sublime portrayal makesit an experience of a lifetime. Ann-Margret is brilliant in the role ofPeggy Ann Snow. Burgess Meredith as Ben Greene virtually steals everyscene that he is a part of.Magic (1978) is indeed magical. And the dream-like combination of twogreat Englishmen, Richard Attenborough and Anthony Hopkins, makes itpossible. A necessary watch!http://www.apotpourriofvestiges.com/
Overall, Magic is a half-way decent thriller.It is pretty solid all the wayaround, with an unusual mix of horror, comedy, drama,..and fully equippedwith bizarre psychological ploys.Magic features a fairly high-profile cast.Anthony Hopkins is utterlybrilliant as usual.Ann Margaret and Burgess Meredith give solidperformances, but kudos goes to Ed Lauter, who lends a hand as Duke, thehusband of Peggy Ann,(Ann Margaret).Mr. Lauter really performed well in thisfilm, and I've always liked him in every film he's been involvedin.The plot revolves around Corky,(Hopkins) a highly talented ventriloquistwith a sinister alter ego in the form of his vent figure, called Fats.Therelationship between Corky and Fats is complex and deeply psychological, tosay the least.No one knows exactly HOW unbalanced Corky is, with theexception of his agent, Gangrene(Meredith).When Corky refuses to take amedical exam and makes a trek to the hills of upstate New York, his agentfollows.Corky rents a small guest house, surrounded by the countryside and a"Lake Melody" from an old flame, and soon enough the relationship turnsintimate.Duke returns, and knows exactly what is going on. Gangrene,however,has just previously made a surprise visit to Corky, who unleashes hisalter-ego Fats, and Gangrene gets bludgeoned with the wooden vent figure.After sundown, Corky attempts to swim out in the middle of Lake Melody anddispose of his agents corpse by filling the pockets of Gangrene's jacketwith stones.In one of my favorite scenes, the old agent somehow revives,and begins trying to drown Corky.Both end up submerged, and only the nextmorning do we find that Corky is the survivor. The movie is also fraught with humor, and I couldn't help but chuckle morethan a few times at some of the scenes.Magic is a solid flick, I give it an8 out of 10.
"Magic" is a decent if completely unspectacular film.**SPOILERS**Working as a comic, Corky Withers, (Anthony Hopkins) is beset withfailure after failure. When he finally gets a vulgar dummy added to hisact named Fats, he gets famous fast and it takes off. When this causeshis talent agent Bud Greene, (Burgess Meredith) to take notice of hismove, he flips out and decides to move back to his home in theCatskills. Meeting up with old Peggy Ann Snow, (Ann-Margret) theyrestart their childhood romance, much to the annoyance of Fats. When itstarts to get in the way of his career, he starts to blame the dummyfor his actions, which no one believes. As he begins to loose controlover falling more and more into madness with blaming the dummy, he soonleaves behind a trail of murder, which he claims may or may not be fromthe dummy.The Good News: This one wasn't that bad. This one has a really greatfeature here that this one never really knows whether or not the dummyis alive or not. There's a real sense of the dummy actually being aliveand causing all the damage. It plays it up really well, and there'splenty of great moments at play because of them. There's even a ratherlong segment where there's a big back-and-forth between them that isfull of great moments due to it not known whether or not the dummy isdoing it or not. The later conversations do this as well, which makesthe segments all the greater. Another factor is that the setting isquite impressive. This one's woodland setting overlooking a great lakegives it fantastic look, and it really does look nice. It has plenty ofimpressive scenery here, and it looks great. It does have a rathergreat suspense scene where the potential discovery of a body is reallygreat moment, and is played up quite nicely. The last part that worksis the fun scenes for the comedy act. These are actually really good,as the lame card tricks give way to a pretty hilarious ventriloquismact, and its really fun to watch. These elements are the film's goodparts.The Bad News: This one has a little bit wrong with it. The biggest oneis that there's really very little feeling to this one when it concernsa horror film. More often than not, it goes for the low-key approachthat hardly ever makes it feel like a true horror film. There's never areal feeling that this one wants to be an out-and-out horror film, andthat takes away from the film when it's pretty much a given thatthere's going to be many scenes that will avoid the horror elements. Ittakes away a feeling of fear that comes when this one decides to comeout with it's evil tricks. That can be damaging, as well as the factthat this one doesn't have a whole lot of action to it. This one onlyhas a few scenes that provide anything resembling action scenes, andwith only several kills, there's a few scenes here and there to injectsome in, but these are so few and far between that it leaves the restof the film incredibly slow-paced and really dull. It gets interestingat times, but more often isn't and really helps lowering the film.The Final Verdict: Without a whole lot going for it but some good stuffalong the way, it does earn some points for it. This is really only forthose who have a real weak spot for the films of the time or fans ofthe cast, but more traditional ones should seek caution with it.Rated R: Violence, Language and Nudity
In response to "A Viewer" from Sierra Vista, I too remember that all too terrifying ad..I was too scared to see the movie (I've based my rating on the brillance of Mr. Hopkins) and read the book instead which probably still not such a great idea as the imagination can play awful tricks on you as well..I hope that this indeed is released on DVD because I would finally love to see Anthony Hopkins in what is probably one of his finest roles - of course, I'll have to leave the lights on!
I agree with a couple of the other reviews. I've seen almost every piece of Anthony Hopkins' work, and he cannot falter in any role he's given. However, this movie, (abstract, creepy, and geniusly thought-out) as it was, with a twist ending and everything; just didn't do it for me. Ann-Margaret was less than wonderful in this. Although she's great, her chemistry with 'Corky' seemed more than lacking...it almost seemed, well, just odd. And I wound up sad and confused with the ending, which I think I wasn't supposed to feel. Yet if I can still be this impressed with this movie, it only shows how incredible Sir Anthony Hopkins really is. If it weren't for him, 'Magic' would have found it's way to the trash bin without a single breath of air.
Great movie! Anthony Hopkins is just amazing, as always. His mannerisms, his voice... for God's sake, the guy can even sweat on command!This is a horror flick that works for all ages. Great to watch alone, or with the whole fam. Great acting and an enjoyable story that doesn't rely on blood and gore, just tons of "Old School" creep factor!
Ventriloquist dummy's always give me the creeps; I've never seen a single one that doesn't seem vaguely psychotic. Anthony Hopkins plays his part very well but I'm not sure that I bought him as a genuine stage entertainer. The plot could have done with some more meat on its bones, although Ann Margaret nicely underplayed her role. The last scene is brilliantly written and well performed.