Richard Attenborough, known for his classy (but especially long and tedious) epical films, directs a tense thriller with horror undertones?? Sounds like a Disney film brought to you by Quentin Tarantino! But surprisingly enough, Attenborough knows damn well how to bring the unsettling and eerie tale of a ventriloquist who slowly loses his sense of reality and starts to live through his dummy. Too bad he can't resist stressing the drama and sentiment even more. For every suspenseful sequence in 'Magic', there's a dull and pseudo-psychological anti-climax following.
The opening sequences of 'Magic' are terrific! Through flashback and a conversation with his mentor, we see how Corky (Anthony Hopkins) struggles and fights to make it as a magician/stage performer. The transfer to his all-of-a-sudden successful career as a ventriloquist comes rather abrupt and it's hard to believe. Yet, you don't bother about this too much as the dialogues are good and Hopkins' performance is outstanding. He can't handle the pressure and flees to the countryside where he meets his long-lost high school dreamgirl. Meanwhile, he becomes more and more obsessed by his voice tube-dummy Fats. The idea of evil ventriloquist dummies might not be new (The Great Gabbo, Dead of Night) but 'Magic' is neatly elaborated and very well-acted. Unfortunately, it hurt seeing Ann-Margret so underused! She has a relatively small part and all Hopkins ever talks to are her bosom! Nicest line in the whole movie: 'Your breasts belong in the Louvre, which is a museum in France and I'd love to visit it with you!' That's great! I have to keep that in mind and use it as a pick-up line someday!
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