A primary inspiration for this series, Magic plays like Psycho distorted through a funhouse mirror, plunking Anthony Hopkins down to tread water in the same sea of sexual retardation Anthony Perkins swam and swapping out the infamous specter of Norman Bates’ mother for an overbearing ventriloquist’s dummy who has a penchant for murder.
William Goldman’s bold, lunatic script (adapted from his own novel) giddily demands that the audience join him in demented leaps of logic while Richard Attenborough’s complimentarily assured and controlled direction makes it at all possible for the audience to buy in for the ride. A virtuoso dual-performance by the young Hopkins as both the shy, nebbish ventriloquist Corky Withers and his uncontrollably obscene, foul-mouthed puppet Fats (alongside amazing turns by Burgess Meredith and Ann-Margaret) make every moment in this dark satire of fame and madness worth watching. Ted, eat your heart out.
Director: Richard Attenborough. 107 min. 1978. 35mm.
Part of the series Bastards of Hitch.
Co-presented with MUBI.
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