Kids, when Ol’ Uncle Jay was Young Nephew Jay, his family took him to many movies where I was probably a bit too young to actually see them, but my cousins were a few years older, so I got to tag along. I was born right after Teddy Roosevelt left office, in 1968, so there were plenty of movies that A) Would never be made today, and B) Were put into my subconscious, that I think about them/quote them, all the time (I’m looking at you Blazing Saddles)
I was lucky enough to see “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” (drive in, double feature with “Disorderlies”), “Star Wars”, “The Blues Brothers”, “The Shining”, “High Anxiety” (didn’t get it), all the “Smokey and the Bandits” (Burt Reynolds was gold in the 80’s, I’ll fight you), etc…all before I was 12. I’m not saying I’m not normal because of it, but my young psyche was not bruised in any way, because back then it didn’t take a village, and if I did something wrong, I took a beating. My mom was a strapping lady, so being a smart child, I learned right and wrong pretty darn quickly.
But during this time of movie awesomeness, one movie stuck out to me in all it’s terror, and it isn’t “The Shining” (though terrifying nonetheless).
The movie that actually terrified me was “Magic” Fun fact, for years I had it in my head it was Warren Beatty who played the lead Corky, when in fact it was Anthony Hopkins…with hair.
The premise of the movie is Corky (Anthony Hopkins), is a magicians assistant, who is also trying to break out as a magician. His first show, he starts out doing exactly what his magician tells him, and he bombs to the point he yells at the audience. When he tells the sick magician this, he gives him a dummy (no, not Lemont), so he can do the same hack tricks, but also have Fats (the dummy), to fall back on. Next thing you know, despite being named Corky, he is a smash hit, wanted everywhere. He performs his tricks, Fats spouts out edgy one liners (before that was the norm), and he is an entertaining Jeff Dunham. Weird, huh?
Burgess Meredith plays his agent Ben Greene, and the recently passed David Ogden Stiers plays a network executive, with hair even.
Corky can’t handle all of the sudden fame, and escapes to where he grew up, so he can get his head together, and there he reconnects with a girl he had a crush on as a kid, Peggy Ann Snow (Ann Margaret). They of course rekindles old desires, and that does not sit well with Fats.
If you kids don’t remember Ann Margaret, this film just shows you how gorgeous this woman was. She did a nice job in the role, didn’t overact too much, and is topless in a scene. 10 year old me loved her. 50 year old me still loves her. As bombshells of the times goes, sometimes I feel that she is known, but gets lost in the shuffle. Maybe it’s the red hair, but it sure isn’t because she lacks talent or looks.
The only real flaw in the movie is I just can’t bring myself to believe a woman like that could 1) Marry a guy like Duke (Ed Lautner), or 2) Fall for a guy like Corky. Anthony Hopkins is an ok looking guy, but he’s a god damned ventriloquist. It’s Ann Margaret…Ann Friggin Margaret….she’s not marrying a drunken woodsmen or banging a creepy ventriloquist. As a man of average looks on a good day, this should give me hope, but I’m still calling bullshit.
As per usual, this is where the plot heats up, so I’m not going to spoil the ending, much to the chagrin of Spoiler Country. I mean, it came out in 1978, so it wouldn’t really be a spoiler, but I really enjoy watching movies, especially when I’m not tipped off to when things are going to happen. I still enjoy them, but a little something is missing.
I will say that there is some blood, some mental illness, some adultery, and a rowboat.
What creeped me out as a youth, and to be honest, as an adult, is how Fats really “comes to life” as a character, though, not like Chucky. You know Corky is controlling him, but it really is like he has a mind of his own. I’m sure with the hint of Multiple Personality Disorder, he probably does. And, he actually looks like Sir Anthony Hopkins.
Hopkins actually studied ventriloquism for the role, to the point he’s double billed as Corky and Fats. He’s very good in the role, going from the angry assistant, frustrated with the audience, to the confused star, who is being overwhelmed with the changes in his life.
Ann Margaret is great. Good acting, looks like she could come from the area, despite being a bombshell, and just fits the role of the crush who got away.
Burgess Meredith…ahh Burgess Meredith…he was good in his role, though small, and to me he can do no wrong. You may know him as Mickey from Rocky, or the greatest Penguin in Batman history, though Robin Lord Taylor is pretty god damned good in Gotham, but he’s just a great character actor, and narrator, that just shines in whatever he is in, no matter how big or small the role. His personal life is also interesting, from government issues to activism.
The rest were bit roles, well acted, and well directed. It was good enough to be put in many Top 10 lists for the year, and it terrified a young Jay to the point I hate those dummies to this day. Well, I may not hate them, but I look at them from a distance, and I don’t trust them. Much like children. Though I’d much rather be in a room full of dummies than a room full of children.
So if you get a chance to watch this movie, do it gang! I had to order it because John or Kenric were talking about things that scared you as kids, and I decided to confront this movie, and have watched it 4 times since I got the DVD in the mail. Yes, I still buy DVD’s, because I like them. Yes they take up too much room, but so do kids.
That being said, you shall be getting a review of that classic movie “Time After Time”, starring Malcolm McDowell. It’s based off of HG Wells “Time Machine”, and also left an impression on me as a kid, coming out in 1979.
I’d like to take a moment and thank everyone for this opportunity to write about the movies I love, giving vague descriptions so you might want to flesh them out by watching them, or maybe even introduce your kids to them. (Hold off on Magic or Time after Time until they are 14 or so). I absolutely love movies, and would go to one every day if I made Spoiler Country money. But I make My Worst Holiday money, so I watch a LOT of Netflix. (though mostly baking shows or Frontier)
Have a Happy Holiday Season if this gets out in time. Remember this…I am a size L in shirts, and like GNC gift cards in a pinch, because protein isn’t cheap. They have my address somewhere.
I am also the cohost/comedic genius on the podcast My Worst Holiday, and I do have stickers for that show, so if you want them, get in touch with me at [email protected], and I’d be happy to send you a few.