Abracadabra. Hocus-pocus. Hey, lookie there: I just made October 31 National Magic Day . Just kidding, of course. October 31 was chosen as National Magic Day because that is the anniversary of the death of the most legendary magician of them all: Harry Houdini. That fact makes commemorating National Magic Day by watching movies about magic all the more appropriate since Harry Houdini was also one of the earliest movie stars. If you don’t believe me, check out my article on Houdini as movie star.
What could would National Magic Day without a movie titled “Magic” after all? Anthony Hopkins plays William Goldman’s ill-fated magician whose gimmick is a foul-mouthed ventriloquist dummy. Lots of movies and TV shows have been built around the ventriloquist dummy who seems to come alive as a psychotic version of the ventriloquist’s Id come to life. Goldman added the element of magic to the ventriloquist act to give his story an even creepier psychological twist.
Any movie in which Nikola Tesla plays a character vital to the plot is worthy of watching on National Magic Day. The things that Tesla predicted would become reality through his inventions still look so much like magic to some people that they deny those inventions could have been put to practical use. But there is more going on in “The Prestige” than the magic of Tesla. This is a fascinating tale of two magician rivals willing to go to any lengths to outdo the other as well as to protect their secrets
Well, we’ve got “Magic” so how about a movie actually called “The Magician” for National Magic Day. Okay, truth be told: it’s kind of a cheat. “The Magician” is a Swedish movie and pretty much everywhere but America knows it by the title “The Face.” Since this period piece is a mystical treatise on the persona that people show to the world and the reality that hides beneath the mask, “The Face” is quite suitable. But since the leader character is a magician by trade, so is the alternate title. No matter what you call, Bergman’s film is highly appropriate for watching on National Magic Day and it is actually my favorite Bergman movie. The story of a traveling troupe of players forced to reveal their secrets by those in charge of the village and the subsequent revenge by the magician is much more accessible than many other Bergman masterpieces.
The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao
The title characters are all played by Tony Randall. Dr. Lao oversees a very mystical circus filled with unexplained magic. The frontier of America is on the verge of transforming into a more lawful and less west wide open region. The world is changing, progress is coming, but the people in a small Arizona town are about to learn that just because the 20th century is right around corner, that doesn’t mean that mean that science is going to take over completely. National Magic Day is a great holiday on which to gather some kids and enjoy this multi-layers meditation on magic and redemption. The special effects are amazing and the deeper meaning beneath the fantasy is almost…magical.