Ventriloquist dummy becomes alter ego, 6 March 2016
I myself wouldnít call "Magic" (1978) a horror movie, which in my view nearly always involves supernatural elements and/or monsters of some kind. "Magic" is a deeply psychological thriller involving the neo-noir theme of identity.
The story and script are excellent. We never know what to expect. The movie is full of surprises, and yet they seem entirely natural. We gradually come to understand the complex personality of ventriloquist Anthony Hopkins, and thatís what the movie is about mainly. The themes of insecurity, fear of success, lost love and the inability to express love all shine through.
Burgess Meredith does his customary top notch job in support as the agent of Hopkins. Ann-Margret handles her role of hometown beauty and lost love with just the right touches, including loyalty to her current husband, Ed Lauter. My only complaint was that I wished that the naturally beautiful Ms. Margret had left her nose untouched by plastic surgery. The thin and pointed one she sports here doesnít help her one little bit. It doesnít look right.
Hopkins is interesting for bringing to the character a mixture of boyishness and weakness with manly outbursts and forcefulness. Thatís only the beginning. His portrait is rich and nuanced. The directing of Richard Attenborough is up to the task. There are quite a few haunting shots of the dummy that almost turn it into a living monster, but stop short. The direction fits the story. Itís not imitative and doesnít reach for effects. The story is unrushed without being at all slow or draggy. I was involved the whole way.
This very good movie calls for repeat viewing.