Corky & Fats
Having failed as a magician Corky (Anthony Hopkins) changes track and finds success as a ventriloquist as a long with Fats, his cocky and foul mouthed dummy, nightclub audiences love him. But when he is spotted by talent agent Ben Greene (Burgess Meredith) who lines him up a shot on National TV things start to unwind as with a medical being part of the deal Corky is not happy. And when he starts to panic he leaves the city with Fats and head up to the Catskills where Peggy Ann Snow (Ann-Margret) his childhood sweetheart lives. Having felt trapped by a marriage to Duke (Ed Lauter) which has become loveless she agrees to run away with Corky but that only angers Fats who becomes violent and controlling.
"Magic" is a fantastic movie as we watch Corky, this shy and not very good magician becomes a hit when he introduces a ventriloquist dummy in to his act and suddenly he is no longer shy but confident. You initially think that Corky has found what he is good at and is able to say the stuff through Fats he couldn't by being himself. And there is something simply entertaining about a ventriloquist with a cocky dummy which is so sharp with the replies that it is hard not to think of it as a real person especially when it has such a different personality to its operator.
Of course that is what "Magic" is mainly about; we are meant to begin to question whether or not Fats is some how alive or is Corky's sinister alter ego, becoming the voice of his inner thoughts. And between Anthony Hopkins and director Richard Attenborough they get you hook, line and sinker because not only do we have the snappiness of the dialogue but the conversations which Corky has with Fats are great and really bring out the split personality of Corky making you sure he is losing it but still making you watch the dummy ever so closely just in case he moves on his own and is in fact some sort of demon doll.
But there is more to "Magic" than that as it has all these fantastic scenes such as when Ben shows up in the Catskills having come to a conclusion about Corky's mental health and challenges him to not be Fats for 5 minutes. Then there is a tense fishing scene on the lake when Peggy's husband Duke returns and becomes suspicious of what went on between the two of them when he wasn't there the night before. And that builds to what is a surprisingly sweet love story between Corky and Peggy as she seems to have the patience to bring out the best in him. In fact despite what you learn about Corky you strangely champion them.
Now it has to be said that whilst many think Hannibal Lecter when they think of Anthony Hopkins they should also think Corky because from the minute we see him with the ventriloquists dummy you would think he had operated him all his life as the movement between them and the eye rolling is perfect as is the dubbing of the voice. And Hopkins works brilliantly with Ann-Margret which makes you believe that they had been sweet on each other since childhood.
What this all boils down to is that "Magic" is a fantastic movie and for me one of Anthony Hopkins best movies with a stunning dual performance. But it is a fantastic movie from start to finish which will have you hooked the minute we meet Corky and Fats.