Accepting a teaching job on a tiny island in Greece, Englishman Nicholas Urfe (Michael Caine – The Cider House Rules, Children of Men) does not initially realize that he is replacing a teacher who committed suicide. The teacher not only committed suicide but it was under strange circumstances. Things go from strange to stranger when Nicholas makes friends with a wealthy man named Maurice Conchis (Anthony Quinn – The Black Swan, Buffalo Bill). Conchis is known by the locals as "The Magus" or the magician. Nicholas also gets to know Conchis' beautiful girlfriend, Lily (Candice Bergen – from television's Murphy Brown). Soon enough Nicholas is ensnared in Conchis' wicked mind games, but it seems as if he cannot get out. Or he doesn't really want to. The differences between fantasy and reality become less and less obvious to Nicholas. The result is that he is soon in a struggle for his life.
Guy Green's (directed several TV films) film is based on the popular John Fowles (The French Lieutenant's Woman) novel. It is a film full of plot twists and of an erotic nature. Apparently it is a great book, but the film does not do it justice. Which is strange because author John Fowles wrote the screenplay himself. I guess that proves that writing adapted scripts is not as easy as we think. The story gets quite convoluted at certain points and hard to follow. This usually means that the viewer becomes bored. The cinematography is good and so is most of the acting, but it is not enough. What, unfortunately, sticks out the most in the film is the absolutely awful music/score by John Dankworth (Gangster No. 1, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang). Often it is so awful that it distracts you from what is going on onscreen.
-John Fowles: The Literary Magus
-The Michael Caine Collection: Deadfall theatrical trailer and Peeper theatrical trailer