The Magus Guy Green

Woody Allen once remarked that if he had his life to live over, he’d do everything the same, except watch the film version of The Magus. He wasn’t alone in mocking this 1968 John Fowles adaptation, which though scripted by the author was directed by the ham-fisted Guy Green with the kind of tentative approach to fantasy that’s the sure sign of a second-rate talent. Its tale is that of English teacher Nicholas Urfe (Michael Caine), who comes to Greece to teach but falls into the hands of fantastical enigma Maurice Conchis (Anthony Quinn), who could be a magician, psychiatrist or producer but keeps Nicholas hanging as to the ultimate nature of his identity. He’s not the only one up in the air: Caine himself complained that nobody could tell what the movie was about, and matters are made worse by the temporal shifts and fantasy sequences, which are about as convincing as a rubber monster from a B-movie. Worse is the romantic intrigue — not only is Anna Karina wasted as the old girlfriend who knows better than the lead but the mystery woman on the island is played so atrociously by Candice Bergen that you have to cover your eyes. There’s a movie to be made from this material but it would require Alan Resnais to sort out its complexities. This movie isn’t so much complex as it is complicated; it’s a puzzle so pointless that you don’t feel inclined to put it together. Still, it’s one of those floridly bad movies that could only have been made in the ’60s, so it may entertain some in spite of itself. The only extra: a sombre but idolatrous featurette on Fowles. (Fox)