While I admire Richard Attenborough the actor, I am not as enthusiastic about his work as a director. This is his best work as a director probably because as a good actor he realized the potential of the story that survives on the acting skills of the lead player. Attenborough's job was easy once he had a consummate actor in Anthony Hopkins to play the key role and provide the distinct voice of the dummy.
This film's highlights are the performances of Hopkins, Burgess Meredith and Ann-Margaret, in that order. Hopkins has matured over the years and in recent films like "Hannibal" and "Silence of the Lambs" is arresting to watch. Yet in "Magic", Attenborough is able to extract a superb performance in an otherwise above-average film.
The sequence between Hopkins and Meredith, where the dummy has to keep quiet for 5 minutes is the highlight of the film. Equally interesting is the editing (by John Bloom) of the two knifing sequences. To sum up, the acting, the low-budget direction (superior compared to "Gandhi" and "A Bridge too Far"), and the editing are the departments that are commendable in this film.
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