1978, Movie, R, 106 mins


Terribly overrated at the time of its release, this box-office hit and a recipient of several Oscar nominations is really nothing more than an expansion of the Michael Redgrave episode of DEAD OF NIGHT (1945), and not a particularly well-done one at that. At the center of its predictable plot is Hopkins, a ventriloquist who believes his ill-tempered, foul-mouthed dummy, Fats, is taking over both the act and his personality. The ventriloquist's schizophrenia and paranoia become so acute that he murders his manager, Meredith, but believes Fats to be the killer. After hiding the body, Hopkins flees to the Catskills, where he visits a former lover, Ann-Margret. Problems arise, however, among Hopkins, Fats, Ann-Margaret, and her husband, Lauter; and another murder results. Designed as a star vehicle for Hopkins, who performed his own ventriloquism, MAGIC has few scary moments and is really a rather maudlin examination of a nervous breakdown. Goldman's adaptation of his own novel starts off well enough but quickly gets bogged down in sappy romance and ends disappointingly. Aside from the obligatory shots of the dummy looking sinister, director Attenborough fails to evoke an effectively eerie mood, concentrating instead on the "drama" between Hopkins and Ann-Margaret. Watch DEAD OF NIGHT instead. leave a comment

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