DVD Article

Hopkins: The Eclectic Man

Anthony Hopkins on video -- ''The Elephant Man,'' ''The Bounty,'' and ''The Good Father'' are some of the titles available

With his portrayal of the terrifying Dr. Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs, Anthony Hopkins finally penetrated Americans' consciousness, not to mention their nightmares. For those hungry for more of the 53-year-old Welsh actor, here's a Hopkins half dozen that can be sampled on video.

Magic (1978)
In this ponderous psychological thriller directed by Richard Attenborough (Gandhi), Hopkins plays a terminally timid magician-ventriloquist dominated by his own dummy. From the start, Hopkins forgoes the subtle route and heads straight over the top, squeezing what fun there is out of William Goldman's humorless script. C+

The Elephant Man (1980)
Lambs director Jonathan Demme has said it was Hopkins' affecting performance as the grand, compassionate Dr. Frederick Treves that convinced him to cast the actor as Dr. Lecter, Treves' evil twin. In this bleak film directed by David Lynch, the well-intentioned Treves saves the disfigured John Merrick (John Hurt) from the life of sideshow freak, only to confront the prospect that he has intensified his patient's pain rather than healed it. A

The Bounty (1984)
This remake of the Mutiny on the Bounty story gives Lieut. William Bligh a personality change: No longer a hissably demonic madman, Hopkins' updated Bligh is a complicated guy. Puritanical, uncompromising, yet pitiable, he was the wrong man for the job, resorting to mindless discipline in confronting Mel Gibson's hedonistic mutineer. B-

84 Charging Cross Road (1987)
In this based-in-truth story, Hopkins is a London bookseller who has an epistolary transatlantic relationship with Manhattan bibliophile Anne Bancroft. Hopkins gradually and subtly reveals a genuine warmth and a touch of the romantic in this straitlaced, married middle-aged man. He speaks pages with only a lost-in-thought gaze. A-

The Good Father (1987)
Hopkins spits nails as an embittered, insecure divorcé, Bill Hooper, who resents his ex-wife's custody of their son but isn't willing to accept responsibility for him. In this unflinching drama about the damage men and women do to one another, Hopkins, almost never offscreen, turns in one of the best, most neglected film performances of the decade. B+

A Chorus of Disapproval (1988)
A daffy, slight British comedy about a widower (Jeremy Irons) who moves to a seaside town, joins an amateur theatrical company, and to his surprise begins attracting throngs of women. In a rare comedic role, Hopkins is the film's primary source of humor as the cantankerous director. With shoulders hunched, a limp that comes and goes, and a left-eye squint, Hopkins proves surprisingly deft at physical comedy. C+

Originally posted Oct 18, 1991 Published in issue #88 Oct 18, 1991 Order article reprints