Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Magic -film review

I enjoyed catching up with Marathon Man at long last so much that it didn't take me long to watch another film written by William Goldman not long afterwards. This is Magic.Goldman really is a gifted story-teller, and it's remarkable that as well as these two screenplays (he also wrote the novels on which each film is based) he was also the man responsible for the Western that even non-fans of Westerns love, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Magic stars that compelling actor Anthony Hopkins as Corky, a rather reserved magician who finds fame and fotune when he adds Fats, a dummy, to his act, and combines magic with ventriloquism. Now, anyone who has watched that classic portmanteau movie knows that ventriloquists' dummies are exceedingly sinister characters. And Fats is as spooky as any dummy could be.

The plot starts to thicken once Corky, who is becoming increasingly troubled, heads off to the Catskills, and meets up with his old flame, Peggy (Ann-Margret). Old flames, in stories like this, certainly don't die down, and the pair quickly become lovers. The snag is that Peggy has a husband, the limited and jealous Duke, and soon Duke's suspicions are aroused. When Corky's agent comes to find what has happened to his client, things take a very dark turn indeed,

This film was directed by Richard Attenborough, and has music by Jerry Goldsmith. In other words, as with Marathon Man, the credits are really impressive, and it shows. The basic plot material could, in inferior hands, be pretty crass, but Goldman and company combine very effectively. I haven't read the book (which I gather has a dimension to its plot that could not be translated to the big screen) but if it's as good as the film, it is definitely worth reading.


pattinase (abbott) said...

This scared me a lot when I saw it.

Ed Gorman said...

Several notable performances in "Magic." The novel is well worth a read.

dfordoom said...

My problem with Magic is that I kept comparing it to the ventriloquist's dummy segment in Dead of Night. Magic is quite a good film though - just not quite up to the standard of Dead of Night.

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Great movie and fairly faithful to the novel, but yes, the opening section of the book, which leads to a wonderful surprise for the reader who has not seen the film, is basically un-translateable to film - really worth picking up Martin and not too hard to find. But then I would say that - I'm a huge Goldman fan.