They Might Be Giants (1971) Other movies recommended for you
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Plot: They Might be Giants chronicles the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in modern-day New York City. The fact that Sherlock Holmes is a psychotic paranoid and Dr. Watson is a female psychiatrist fascinated by his case is almost beside the point. Dr. Watson follows Holmes across Manhattan… Runtime: 98 min Release Date: 09 Jun 1971
Being American and inadvertently an avid viewer consumer of cinema of all genres and qualities, I have to say that this is one of my all-time, forgotten favorites.Not being a film student or critic, I fall into that overlooked and easily dismissed category called "the audience" which is humorously described as having no knowledge of art, but knowing with certainty what one likes. As such, I can say, unequivocally, that I like this film.Most important to me as a viewer, above all other aspects of a film, is the story that is being told. If the story is winning, endearing and <more>
meaningful, then all else can be forgiven, production quality, even poor acting. Sans the poor acting, "They Might Be Giants" is just such a film.I won't bore you with the wealth of meaning and depth of insight that I have gleaned from this wonderful story. Suffice it to say that despite what some have chosen to call its' "saccharine" quality and what I call its' endearing quality , this story has the metaphysical import that elevates it to the level of a modern-day fable for the Western World.Because I am unstudied and basically an "illiterate" in terms of Western Literature, the references to Don Quiote were completely invisible to me until now. For this enlightenment, I give thanks to the other reviewers. This comparison rings true throughout the story, and has enriched its' overall meaning for me. However, because I was initially unaware of this now obvious reference, for me the "They" in the title of "They Might Be Giants" referred to the very characters, themselves, all of whom are socially flawed, socially marginalized individuals, all of whom are void of "desirability".As such, these characters, very aptly portrayed by the cast, although quirky, stand-alone individuals respectively, collectively come to represent the "everyman". The impersonal facelessness and the spirit-killing angst of personal worthlessness in midst of the post-industrial age of "modernity" are the windmills at which our Don Quiote, Justin Playfair, tilts. More importantly, we come to understand that this mask of facelessness may well be hiding individuals of truly gigantic spiritual dimensions and human worth. Our fellow human beings, who we pass, nameless, in the streets, "They Might Be Giants"!
If you look for flaws in this film you will find plenty. Still, I gave this film a 10 vote because it has overriding qualities which are extremely rare. It is a magical film, full of poetry, it touches you where other films cannot reach. It creates a fantasy world of its own in the midst of modern society, a fantasy world which is utterly implausible and yet so compellingly persuasive.The cast of this gem is mesmerisingly excellent, all parts I can think of are cast with character actors who on their own have stolen entire films from the stars. The central performance by George C. Scott is <more>
majestic, and so is John Barry's wonderful score. The film contains many memorable scenes, but outstanding amongst the lot is the supermarket scene. If I had to compile a list of the ten best scenes ever put to celluloid, this would be included.Unique.
This movie sports many moments of pure magic. This film was my first introduction to George C. Scott, and to my mind, this was his best role ever, even surpassing the work he did in Dr. Strangelove and The Hospital.And that soundtrack! An excellent score, indeed!
flawed but delightful fantasy/offbeat romantic comedy (by Brian14Leonard)
They Might Be Giants is one of my two all-time favorite films. It has its problems: it's somewhat dated, the characters are often one-dimensional, and there's one scene that's SO mawkish and dated it makes me cringe the hippie girl at the phone company . Nevertheless, it's a wonderfully constructed film with terrific performances from George C. Scott, Joanne Woodward, Jack Gilford, and many top-flight character actors. It's also a great look at NYC circa 1970, and has the best supermarket scene I've ever seen. Most of all, it's a fantasy that has firm roots in, <more>
and leads back to, reality. And it's quite romantic, too--especially for those who've had little luck in that department.
Sadly, i saw this film only once, back in the early eighties;it remains unforgettable.An earlier reviewer said that it echoes Don Quixote as well as Holmes;they were right. Scott was one of the greatest actors, and this is one of his finest films. It is rich in humor and fantasy, and it boasts a very good performance by Ms. Woodward to compliment the one by Scott.
The Romantic versus The Realistic in the Modern World (by theowinthrop)
With his roman nose profile and height, and before he put on weight, George C. Scott was a natural looking actor to essay the role of that greatest of fictional detectives Sherlock Holmes. But for some reason he never got the nod to do a film on Holmes or Conan Doyles stories. Instead, he did get to play a pseudo-Holmes: Justin Playfair, the eccentric some would say cracked judge who is currently in an asylum and believes he is the great detective. Assigned to help treat him is Joanne Woodward as Dr. Mildred Watson, who first tries to slowly get him back into reality like Alonso Quijano <more>
was supposed to be brought back from being Don Quixote de la Mancha into being a wealthy land owner by his niece and her fiancé . Gradually Woodward begins seeing that far from being crazy, Scott is seeing the world in a different way: Scott is basically letting his imagination look beyond the forms of reality to the hidden side of things. As he says, with a reference to his Cervantes' model rather than his Conan Doyle model , when Quixote charges the windmills we think him mad, but those windmills might actually be giants, justifying fighting them.In this film it is the small people versus the proper and more powerful ones that are at the heart of things. Scott and Woodward are soon leading others with a romantic view of life. Jack Gilford gives another one of his sweet, profound performances as a little man who does see himself - as the Scarlet Pimpernel - righting the wrongs of the world. So it goes with many of the characters in the film. The real climax there are two is in the supermarket scene, when momentarily the forces of power gain the upper hand over Scott's allies and start rounding them up. Scott turns the tables by basing a counter-attack on their greed: he starts announcing insanely cheap prices for meat, poultry, bread, fruit, etc., that these "realists" cannot pass up. They start grabbing things and releasing Gilford and the others, who look bemused at the "realists" as they sneak away .The film's second climax is timed at the conclusion. For Scott/Holmes must have his Moriarty it is his brother, who is trying to have him permanently committed . Scott and Woodward go for a final rendezvous, and we last see them admiring their adversary as he advances. The film does not show what happens but leaves us wondering if they survive or not. But it is a conclusion that leaves us somehow satisfied for the sake of Playfair and his Watson. Maybe it was only his brother they saw approach, but it could have been Moriarty - just like it could have been those giants.
This is a really great movie that was a huge flop when it came out and this should be a cult hit but isn't for some reason. George C. Scott plays a man who thinks he is Sherlock Holmes and his brother tries to have him committed so he can receive his money. Joanne Woodward is the psychiatrist who tries to help him but things don't go as planned and Woodward winds up helping Scott with his case. Woodward's name also happens to be Watson and Scott drags her along to find Moriarity. Woodward has no life outside her work and they wind up falling in love. Scott's brother really <more>
wants his money and hires a hit man to kill Scott but he doesn't realize that.
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Mildred Watson, George C. Scott and Joanne Woodward: Two fine teams (by Terrell-4)
How likely is a whimsical romance between a classic, delusional paranoid and his doctor? Perhaps not likely, unless the paranoid is Justin Playfair, who since his wife died two years previously believes he is Sherlock Holmes George C. Scott , and the psychiatrist hired to commit him for life to an insane asylum, who is named Dr. Mildred Watson Joanne Woodward . The movie sounds too cute for words, but is in fact a witty, clever look at how solitary people can find all kinds of strength and affection when they come together. Well, that's true for most of the movie. There are two <more>
weaknesses, one minor and one major, to deal with before Holmes and Dr. Watson prepare themselves for their meeting with Moriarty. Playfair was an astute and wealthy New York judge, noted for his analytical mind and dedication to justice. When his wife died he descended into paranoia. Now he is Sherlock Holmes, obsessed with finding the evil genius Moriarty. He dresses like Holmes, sounds faintly British and possesses an acute eye for analysis. "Half the trick in finding clues is knowing that they're there," he says. He is superb at finding clues everyone else misses. His younger brother, Blevins Playfair, is determined to have him committed to an insane asylum. Not because Holmes is a danger to anyone, but because Blevins is in debt to criminals. With Holmes institutionalized, Blevins will control the family fortune. The criminals believe that simply shooting Holmes would be a far quicker way to insure that Blevins gets the money to pay them back. Dr. Watson is the one person who must sign the documents to put Holmes away. She's not going to do this until she can examine him. The last thing Blevins wants is for Watson to think Holmes can be cured. "You don't think he can be, do you?" Blevins asks Watson. "Cure a classic? Once in a generation. It's a marvelous disease, you know. The victim's faculties grow keener and ultra-sensitive...and he's capable of things that seem like genius." Before long, however, Holmes is on the trail of Moriarty and Watson must follow along if she's going to fully diagnosis her patient. In the process, Holmes finds a grudging respect for Watson. He's been waiting for his Watson for a long time and is prepared to accept the fact that this Dr. Watson is a woman. "If I'm such a liability," she tells him with acerbity, "what do you want me for?" Holmes looks at her in a mildly friendly way. "Oh, you mustn't feel inferior. Try saying to yourself, 'I'm adequate.'" Mildred Watson, a slightly dowdy woman with a messy apartment who can't cook, is finally drawn to Holmes' integrity and passion. Will this be love? In an odd sort of way, yes, it will be. As Holmes pursues Moriarty's clues throughout New York City, he and Watson encounter a number of engaging misfits, lonely people and eccentrics. It all works until we get to the first bump in the road...that minor weakness. Taken one at a time, the eccentrics make for engaging and touching vignettes. Put all the eccentrics together, marching purposefully behind Watson and Holmes down a dark street and then rescuing the two from the police in a huge, empty supermarket, and we come dangerously close to the whimsical cutes. Then we must deal with a major question, and we encounter the major weakness. How will the movie end? Each one who sees the movie will most likely find their own answer. Perhaps that was the author's and director's intention. For me, I can't help but think that they simply couldn't come up with an effective conclusion based on the plot they had developed. Since I had come to like Holmes and Watson so much, I was left with wanting a conclusion I could smile at. What I was left with was a head scratch. Scott and Woodward do marvelous jobs in creating two lonely characters we begin to root for. As actors, they were worth every penny they were paid. For lessons in star quality and acting skill, pay close attention to Scott as he teases out of a mute patient why the man doesn't speak, and later to Woodward as she prepares a dinner for Holmes in her apartment. For a lesson in team acting by two equally matched pros, watch Holmes and Watson realize how they feel about each other at Watson's apartment. Scattered throughout the movie are some fine actors playing the eccentrics and assorted other characters, a few so quickly seen they're easily lost. Some to look for include Jack Gilford, Eugene Roche, Al Lewis, James Tolkan, F. Murray Abraham, M. Emmet Walsh, Rue McLanahan, Staats Cotsworth of Casey, Crime Photographer fame on radio , Kitty Winn and Worthington Minor. He was the producer a long time ago behind Studio One when television every week presented live drama. They Might Be Giants is a fine movie. It's well worth watching for the skilled characterizations by two star actors and for an excellent script. While I might find the last ten minutes a bit unsatisfying, Sherlock Holmes and Mildred Watson are still worth believing in. As Holmes says as he and Watson stand together looking into the dark, "We're coming for you, Moriarty. We may not look like much. We may not have your weapons. We may lack your dark allies. Why, we may even lose...I'm not invincible. But together, sir, we may surprise you!"
Underrated. One of the best of the "New York" movies (by Bowserb46)
George C. Scott demonstrates once again that he is not a "type". Sherlock Holmes Justin Playfair--what a great name , Buck Turgidson, Patton. Unlike some other big name actors, Scott IS the character he portrays, while other overrated actors take roles where they play themselves, and consequently, they always ARE themselves.Joanne Woodward, in my opinion, is as good here as any role she's played. I'd rate this and "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds", as her best acting performances. Yes, others are more famous, but in those others, she's <more>
often playing herself or is a bit over acting.This movie is full of familiar faces whose names we don't know. The ugly New York locations are great, too. All in all, it's worth 98 minutes of your viewing time!