Sunday, August 13, 2006
123. A Temporary Dream
Back on July 17, I wrote about Anthony Hopkins, starting with Magic in order to work my way toward The World's Fastest Indian. Well, after many years I finally watched Magic again (written by William Goldman, directed by Richard Attenborough). And my memory of it, at least those reflected in the July 17 post, seems to have been pretty accurate. Hopkins does do Karloffian pathos, but with a hyperactive vocal register, the Richard Harris-style "loud voice" so perfectly parodied many moons ago on SCTV. But in Magic it seems to fit, given the nervous in extremis situation. It was startling to watch Hopkins and the dummy yell at each other: Fats, the dummy/alter ego, raging in a keening voice that also managed to be as gravelly as Burgess Meredith's, who plays Corky/Fats' agent, Ben Greene--"Gangrene," as Fats calls him. All in all, another one of those 1978 creepy crawlers I mentioned the other day, Hollywood part-revolution, part-misfire oddities I will always have an affection for, especially if I "squint a bit."
Except for Ann-Margret. For the original kitten with a whip, it's eyes wide open. I'll admit I'd forgotten--sort of--how, ah, taken I was with her in that movie. Oh, let's be honest: not forgotten at all. In my late teens and early twenties she swam around in my head like Ahab's whale, except without all the, ahem, harpooning. No, Ann-Margret--and I am not telling anyone anything new here--exists in a rarefied atmosphere, the prettiest girl in school you--all right, I'll speak for myself--I would never have spoken to, let alone known. And so in 1978, three years after the Oedipal wigout of Tommy, there I was, watching Magic and finding myself identifying with Hopkins' character. Urg. Well, it was difficult to resist: in high school Corky had had a crush on her--loved her--but had never spoken to her. And then there he was, crazy as all get-out but finally getting lucky with--I kid you not--ex-cheerleader Peggy Ann Snow (Goldman, you have a twisted little mind). Again, if movies are dreams, and dreams are wish-fulfillment, this one came to me without metaphor, symbol, or sign, but unfiltered and flat out. Watching it today, I reminded myself how much I'd enjoyed those scenes of Corky and Peggy in love, and how temporarily soothing a movie can be. It's sad, I know, but it fits with every other emotion generated by the movies, no matter how awkward their origin or foolish their expression.
So when Corky falls apart, loses not merely his sanity but Peggy, it served me well, because his frustration was played out with such hysteria that I was able to leave the movie, in 1978 especially, with my own thoughts tucked away in relative safety--because I could feel I was not crazy like Corky, even though my mind had its own ripples and currents, not the least of which the illusionary movie-induced conviction that some guys have all the luck. Today, though, half a lifetime later, I can report that Magic provides merely the memory of a temporary dream--although I cannot deny its power, since it was a dream that held me over until my real life could begin.
Posted by Paul J. Marasa at 5:00 PM
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