I sit on his knee.
and now he is me.
we take her to bed.
Magic is fun;
--from the über-creepy TV
commercial and movie poster
for Magic (1978)
Magic is among my all-time favorite Anthony Hopkins movies. Granted, the movie as a whole is not as enjoyable as some, and the premise of a stage magician having a murderous dissociated personality projected onto a dummy that's a sinister caricature of himself is peculiar to say the least, but Tony's performance is something to behold. Not only does he exhibit extraordinary acting talent in some striking displays of psychosis, he actually learned how to do ventriloquism for the part, as well as card tricks and some wicked shuffling.
It's a movie that bears repeated watchings, because you're sure to pick up new and interesting details each time, including tantalizing hints that maybe, just maybe, Fats is starting to take on a life of his own. Watch for instance for a scene in which Fats' eyes move when Corky is crossing the room and not holding him. Just gravity working on the levers, you say? Then how is it that it's Fats who shrieks in recognition when he sees the agent Ben Greene standing in the doorway -- when Corky's back is turned? "Attaboy, schmucko." :^)
The Magic videotape is out of print. If you go hunting for a used copy to buy or rent, be advised that there is both an R-rated and a PG-rated version around. The R-rated version contains the unedited love scene with Ann-Margret, and stronger language (chiefly from Fats).
The original book version of Magic (Delacorte Press 1976) came out two years before the movie, and was written by the talented William Goldman, who eventually wrote the screenplay as well. I can still remember a friend of mine from high school reading the book in the cafeteria in the mornings. She liked it better than the movie, and it does differ quite a bit. For one thing, we don't find out that Fats is just a dummy until quite a way along in the narrative; at first he seems to be Corky's friend and manager. For another, there are indications that Corky goes around killing all the women he gets involved with.
As an interesting point of trivia, Tony's co-star in the film, Ann-Margret, was actually mentioned in the book. At one point Fats speculates about the potential for success and says to Corky, "Suppose we turn into Andy Williams or Ann-Margret."
Hopkins fans will no doubt remember the scene in the movie Hearts of Atlantis (2001) in which the character played by Tony impresses a young boy with a narrative about an improbable touchdown scored by Bronko Nagurski of the Chicago Bears. While based on actual NFL history, the scene in this particular form derives from one in the book version of Magic, in which the young Corky (that's a nickname for Charles) is told the inspiring tale by his father. William Goldman wrote the screenplay to Hearts in Atlantis as an adaptation of a Stephen King novella. Evidently he liked the idea well enough to save it for a quarter of a century until he could work it into a film.