Written by: Michael Den Boer on March 15th, 2006
Theatrical Release Date: USA, November 1978
Director: Richard Attenborough
Writer: William Goldman
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Ann-Margret, Burgess Meredith, Ed Lauter
DVD released: April 25th, 2006
Approximate running time: 107 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono
DVD Release: Dark Sky Films
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.98
Abracadabra, I sit on his knee. Presto, change-o, and now he’s me! Hocus Pocus, we take her to bed. Magic is fun…we’re dead. – Fats
Corky (Anthony Hopkins) is an inept magician who finds fame when he adds a fouled mouthed dummy named Fats to his act. After a quick rise to the top network T.V. is ready to give him his own show which overwhelms him so he decides to go into seclusion. Corky returns to the home of his youth the Catskills in hopes of finding the sanity he is slowly losing. He finds lodging at the home of Peggy Ann Snow who he once had a childhood crush on. Will he be able to obtain the love that once alluded him or will the outside world push him over the edge?
Magic’s screenplay was written by author William Goldman and based on his book of the same name. Goldman besides being a successful author he has written screenplays for many memorable films like A Bridge Too Far, Marathon Man, All the President’s Men, The Stepford Wives, The Princess Bride and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Magic’s director Richard Attenborough is an actor’s actor and his understanding of the craft and respect of acting in general is evident in every film he directs. Anthony Hopkins plays the dual role of Corky/Fats with a subtlety that also projects sympathy on the Corky character while the Fats character looks like the bad guy when all is said and done. Hopkins has made a career out of playing psychopaths and his turn in this film gives an early indication of things to come like Hannibal Lecter.
Peggy Ann Snow who is portrayed by Ann Margret spends the most time with Corky and she does an admirable job playing the house wife who is in a loveless marriage and wants out. Burgess Meredith plays Corky’s manager Ben Greene and he looks and sounds like a pimped out caricature of Mickey from the Rocky series.
The more disturb Corky gets the more control the dummy fats assumes in their relationship until there comes a point when Fats is telling Corky who has become helpless what to do. There is a pivotal moment in the film that is tender and yet disturbing at the same time. It occurs when Ben Greene tracks Corky down at Peggy’s place and he makes a bet with Corky that he would not be able to talk as Fats for fives. The scene become real tense as the time builds up before Corky ultimately breaks down and asks to end the bet.
Overall Magic is a captivating tale about the pressures of fame and going over the deep end, recommended.
Dark Sky Films presents Magic in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. This transfer has been sourced from a new high definition transfer which boasts vivid colors and exceptional detail through out. Overall this transfer looks impressive.
This release comes with one audio option an English audio language track which is presented in a Dolby Digital mono. Dialog is razor sharp and music and effects sound full and evenly balanced. For a film that is nearly thirty years old the audio mix is in exceptional shape. Removable English subtitles have also been included for this release.
Extras for this release include the films original trailer as well as English and Spanish language T.V. and radio spots. Other extras include a photo gallery, Ann Margret make up test, a radio interview with Anthony Hopkins and six minute interview with Hopkins done partial in Spanish and filmed during the production of Magic. The main extra for this release is a twenty seven minute featurette about vaudeville and the history of ventriloquism. This featurette is titled “Fats and Friends” and it was directed by Blue Underground’s David Gregory. Rounding out the extras is a twelve minute interview with cinematographer Victor J. Kemper who discusses the various techniques he employed while working on Magic.
Dark Sky films gives Magic the special edition it truly deserves and the overall presentation audio/video/extras is their most impressive release to date.
For more information about Magic and other titles released by Dark Sky Films visit their website.