Thoughts from the Ledge: Revisiting the retro horror classic Magic

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Thoughts from the Ledge – Magic – Anthony Hopkins – Courtesy of Joseph E. Levine Productions, Twentieth Century Fox

In this week’s Thoughts from the Ledge, I take a look at the underrated horror classic, Magic starring Anthony Hopkins.

“Peggy Ann Snow, Peggy Ann Snow, please let me follow wherever you go.” – Corky

Before Jurassic Park

Thoughts from the Ledge – Richard Attenborough – Courtesy of the Independent

Lately, I have been revisiting the horror films of my youth. Maybe it’s a nostalgic wish to return to happier and less chaotic times or the need to shine some light on underrated performances. The subject of this week’s Thoughts from the Ledge is a movie about a down and out magician that discovers ventriloquism and becomes a star.

While it sounds heartwarming, it definitely is not. Before M. Night Shyamalan’s terrifying examination of multiple personalities in Split, William Goldman (The Princess Bride) wrote Magic. Let’s face it, while Jeff Dunham is somewhat amusing, ventriloquist dummies are like clowns.

Either you find them to be funny or downright creepy. There is no in between state. Goldman capitalizes on this and creates a character so disturbing that the lines are blurred as to where Corky Withers ends and his dummy, Fats, begins.

This story could have been a really bad B movie in the hands of a lesser scribe, director and cast. However, that is not the case.

The man behind the camera on Magic, Sir Richard Attenborough, was a well-known actor starring in such classic films as The Great Escape and The Sand Pebbles. In the ’90s he became the familiar face of Jurassic Park, its creator, John Hammond.

As a director, he helmed the Academy Award winning, Gandhi, the World War II epic, A Bridge Too Far and Chaplin are just a few of his prominent efforts.  Film buffs will also note that he has worked with Anthony Hopkins multiple times.

Meeting Anthony Hopkins

Thoughts from the Ledge – Anthony Hopkins as Corky Withers in Magic – Courtesy of Joseph E. Levine Productions, Twentieth Century Fox

More from Horror Movies

Hopkins was a prominent actor on the UK stage. In 1968, he starred opposite two colossal stars Katharine Hepburn and Peter O’Toole in The Lion in Winter as Richard the Lionhearted. The ’70s found him collaborating with Attenborough on numerous films such as Young Winston and A Bridge Too Far.

The ’90s found the two men joining forces again on Chaplin and Shadowlands. Of course, most cinema fans remember Hopkins for his portrayal of the highly intelligent cannibal psychiatrist, Hannibal Lecter in Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs.

Actually, Hopkins never shied away from the horror genre. He did a spooky film about possession and reincarnation called Audrey Rose. Of course, he starred as Van Helsing in Francis Coppola’s brilliant film, Bram Stoker’s Dracula. In the 2000s he was featured in The Wolfman and The Rite.