Welcome to Creepy Dolls Week! Let’s look at Magic’s impressive set of names: Richard Attenborough, William Goldman, Anthony Hopkins, Ann-Margret, Burgess Meredith… Wow! This is why I added Magic to my Blind Spot list. Was it as good as the talent involved would suggest?
Directed by Richard Attenborough
Based on Magic by William Goldman
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Ann-Margret, Burgess Meredith, Ed Lauter, David Ogden Stiers
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A ventriloquist is at the mercy of his vicious dummy while he tries to renew a romance with his high school sweetheart.
Here’s a quick list of links to my 2016 Blind Spot Reviews so far, including where I’d rank Magic:
9. Phenomena – 7/10
8. An Education – 7/10
7. Magic – 7/10
6. Summer Wars – 7/10
5. True Romance – 7/10
4. THX 1138 – 7.5/10
3. Play Misty For Me – 7.5/10
2. Battle Royale – 8/10
1. Natural Born Killers – 8/10
Of all the impressive names attached to this film, it was actually William Goldman’s that convinced me I should put this movie on my Blind Spot list & finally get around to watching it. Written by the same guy who wrote The Princess Bride, one of the best movies in the history of history??? Oh hell yeah – I had to see this. Plus I admit I have a strange fascination with/fear of ventriloquist’s dummies and this film’s cover has a suitaby creepy one (named “Fats” in the movie). Look at that face! What an evil looking bastard. Can you imagine that thing sitting in your home? Staring at you? Watching you dress? Hogging the remote control? Leaving the toilet seat up? Well, Ann-Margret seemed to find it charming…
Anthony Hopkins is great in this & it’s easy to see why he’s become such a highly respected actor. This is the type of role that can go seriously wrong if not played right but he does the “vulnerable, possibly insane, slowly becoming unhinged” thing perfectly. Then we have the brilliant Burgess Meredith as Hopkins’ high-powered agent who is trying to get a TV show deal for Hopkins & Fats. Aww. I love Burgess Meredith! I’ve had a soft spot for him ever since his various roles in my absolute favorite TV show growing up, the original The Twilight Zone (he just wanted to be left alone to READ!). I suppose I should get around to watching those Rocky films someday, huh? Anyway, he was a delight in Magic & probably my favorite thing about it. He looked weird with a partially shaved head, though.
Speaking of The Twilight Zone, I suppose I have to admit that Magic’s story doesn’t feel totally original as it was done before in things such as, yes, The Twilight Zone as well as in the not-as-well-known-as-it-should-be British horror anthology Dead Of Night. However, this story is often repeated because it’s a damn good one & Goldman has created very strong characters in order to pull it off. I’ll always happily watch the various ways of going about telling this same “crazy ventriloquist OR crazy dummy?” story.
Unfortunately, while I adore movies from the Seventies, this one hasn’t aged quite as well as some. The strong characters stop when we get to the one female in this film: Ann-Margret. She played the role fine but her character is flaky & far too forgiving. But I suppose that’s kind of the point of her character as she’s married to a possessive man, meaning that when she has an affair with Hopkins & he starts displaying bizarre behavior she just puts up with it as it’s the sort of behavior she’s come to expect. It was a different time, though, and I can’t say this hurt the film too much overall. But I couldn’t help but think that I’d kick that crazy dude & his ugly dummy the hell out of my house! No, wait – I wouldn’t let them in in the first place. You are NOT coming into my house with that dummy. I don’t care if we were friends in high school! And don’t send me any social media friend requests, either. Weirdo.
Magic is a good film. It won’t become an all-time favorite of mine but I’m glad I finally watched it. The story is well told with strong characters but I have a feeling it maybe worked slightly better in the book? Has anyone here read it? However, the acting really makes this film far better than it would’ve been had less talented people been involved. I do recommend Magic if it appeals to you in any way as I think it would be worth your time, especially if you’re a fan of Hopkins & appreciate good performances.
My Rating: 7/10
This song is in no way, shape or form related to this film. It’s just now stuck in my head. And I like it. 😉
Dolls are seriously creepy. More so than clowns to me. Maybe, as a girl, we are used to having a closet full of dolls. We can relate to the worry of dolls coming alive and doing things to us or our rooms while we sleep. Years ago I worked with a woman who had two daughters and the older daughter told the younger that the dolls came alive and night and would pluck out her eyes to use them to see with. She then would move all the dolls around at night so the younger sister would wake up and it looked like the dolls had been doing things at night.
Lol! That’s evil! Makes me glad I’m an only child… ; )
What is it with dolls in horror movies? Anyway, nice review here. I never think of Anthony Hopkins as young so to see him in the screen shots here was interesting.
Thanks, Vinnie! : ) Dolls are evil. I know – it was weird seeing Hopkins so young. Think it’s the oldest movie of his that I’ve seen.
I’m just so used to seeing him older that it will be strange when I do watch the film seeing him as a young guy. Dolls can indeed be evil, I very much agree.
Jesus Christ. I think the creepiest thing about this dummy is the disproportionate sized head of his! He has a real-human-sized head crammed onto the body of a wooden infant puppet. And is it just me, or does this story sound like the inspiration for R.L. Stine’s (in my opinion) most iconic and best Goosebumps chapters? Freaking Slappy the dummy has nothing on this guy Fats, though. Hehe. Fats. What a name.
Somehow I forgot to include in that original comment that I really do want to see this one. This is right up my alley, what with Sir Anthony Hopkins involved.
That dummy does have a big fat head!! Fats the Fathead. 🙂 Well, I think the Dead Of Night dummy inspired this, which I suppose then inspired Goosebumps.
saw this as a teen and found it really creepy. I actually think I also read the book at some time
that being said, I dont remember it at all 🙂
I don’t remember much from my teen years either. 😉 This was a fun one. Maybe worth a re-watch! : )
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