***/**** Image A+ Sound A Extras B-
starring Elvis Presley, Ann-Margret, Cesare Danova, William Demarest
screenplay by Sally Benson
directed by George Sidney
by Bill Chambers First, a word about Richard Attenborough's awesome, heartbreaking Magic. In that 1978 film, Anthony Hopkins plays Corky, a rising star on the ventriloquism circuit--hey, it was the '70s--who beats a hasty retreat to the Catskills to avoid a psychiatric evaluation that would doom his chances of working at NBC. There, he looks up his high-school crush, Peggy Ann Snow (Corky used to recite this sadly desperate/desperately sad rhyme about her: "Peggy Ann Snow, Peggy Ann Snow/Please let me follow, wherever you go"), who really could've been played by any actress of the moment approaching middle age, from Ellen Burstyn to Jill Clayburgh to Marsha Mason to Faye Dunaway. But Attenborough, ingeniously, cast former sex kitten Ann-Margret, so that Corky's nostalgic affection for Peggy isn't an abstract concept. Thereafter, the actress made a cottage industry out of her fading torchdom that reached its inevitable apotheosis when she tackled Blanche Dubois, but in Magic, it provides a crucial point of identification with a main character who can be inscrutable and unlovable that we have a pretty good idea of what Peggy Ann Snow used to be like. We'd pine for her, too.