They Might Be Giants

They Might Be Giants
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7.3/10 by 19 users

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.

Title:They Might Be Giants
Release Date:June 9, 1971
Runtime:
Genres:Comedy, Mystery, Thriller
Production Co.:Universal Pictures
Production Countries:United States of America
Director:Anthony Harvey
Writers:
Casts:, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Plot Keywords:loss of lover, mental disease, suppressed past, fantasy, sherlock holmes, psychiatry
Alternative Titles:
  • Der verkehrte Sherlock Holmes - [DE]

They Might Be Giants Reviews

  • Forgotten Favorite
    by dawuud2 on 12 October 2005

    41 out of 48 people found the following review useful:

    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 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"!

  • Magical film, full of poetry
    by Stefan Kahrs on 7 May 1999

    31 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

    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 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.

  • Ought to be on everybody's top-ten list.
    by William L. Lambert (blambert32@att.net) on 9 February 1999

    27 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

    (Contains spoiler.) I recently did a free-lance graphic-design job for a video store owner. My pay? He had to come up with a copy of "They Might Be Giants" for me. He swore it was the last copy on Earth.

    George C. Scott made Justin Playfair/Sherlock Holmes into a great film character. If you pay attention to his delightful patter, you hear a soulful philosophy of life that nails our culture – whether in 1971 or 1999. His rescue of poor Mr. Small made me want to cheer. Joanne Woodward's portrayal of Dr. Watson was brilliant. You could palpably feel the missing pieces of her wretched existence. "Just keep repeating to yourself, "I am adequate!"

    This may be one of the all-time best collection of character actors ever put together. Jack Guilford and Rue McClanahan were wonderfulÂ… But so was every other actor that appeared. Al Lewis (III) as the messenger, "You were right, Mr. Holmes. My dog did have Pellegra." The clueless march of the crazies en route to the supermarket was heroic. Too few people remember this film. If you get a chance, check this one out.

    ***Note - I originally wrote this comment seven years ago, but some of the new user comments prompted me to add to it. First, understand that Justin Playfair's condition is totally explained by Rue McClanahan, his sister-in-law. He was a brilliant jurist until his wife was killed. He couldn't cope with a world that allowed such bad things to happen. In an attempt to understand how bad things can happen to good people, he became the world's greatest sleuth in a relentless effort to understand evil. He showed saved newspaper clippings, of innocent people killed by inexplicable accidents, buses going off a cliff, boyscouts attacked, and so on. His one thread that held him to a tenuous sanity was the belief he could always figure it out... and that there were always clues.

    He frequented an old movie house that showed old Westerns, where Randolph Scott always wore a white hat and won over the bad guys in black hats. The purest celluloid version of ultimate good over evil. In black and white. He did the London Times crossword puzzle in ink, and could read a person's life with the same exactitude as the original Sherlock. When he rescued Mr. Small, he commented under his breath, "Why can't analysts ever analyze?" The more he studied and investigated the clues, the surer he became that all the clues pointed toward one malevolent perpetrator - the evil mastermind, Moriarity. In the end, he knew he and Watson were no match for him, but that the noblest thing a Man could do was stand up against evil, even if it was a futile gesture. In that acceptance of holding onto good - even in the face of absolute evil - was his salvation.

    In an insane world - only the insane are sane.

  • Delightful and quirky flick
    by Frank Habets (fhabets@yahoo.com) on 15 May 2000

    23 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

    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!

  • And They WERE Giants
    by patdwyer4 (patdwyer4@aol.com) on 12 December 2005

    16 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

    I saw this gem of a motion picture on television in the early 70's. I really was no more than a boy when I saw it and yet it touched me in a way that no other film had. For the first time I appreciated a piece of cinema for more than just idle distraction from dull small town Texas life. They Might Be Giants taught me that movies could be art and could elevate as much as they entertain. From that time to this, whenever I am asked what is my favourite film, I always point to this picture. It was done on a very low budget so the story, characters and amazing actors carry it along the streets of New York, creating a world of whimsical romance and serio-comic tension. The relationship between the mad Justin Playfair (a loony judge who thinks he's Sherlock Homes) and Dr. Mildred Watson (obviously destined to become the pschizo's unwilling side kick) builds into a romance that is funny, touching and, by the end, uplifting. It is available on DVD now and is a cherished piece of my extensive collection. 10 out of 10 all the way.

  • Beautifully-written fantasy fable
    by Mike Resnick on 1 June 1999

    17 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

    James Goldman's most beautiful and literary script, a fragile and delicate fantasy/comedy that delivers on its initial promise. Beautifully acted by Scott, Woodward and Gilford, and with a dozen or more cameos that are truly memorable, this is truly a feel-good movie for the literate and the intelligencia. I would rank it among my top half-dozen.

  • great movie
    by KyleFurr2 on 10 December 2005

    13 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

    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 wants his money and hires a hit man to kill Scott but he doesn't realize that.

  • Before there was One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest...
    by skyboy1999 on 25 July 2003

    13 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

    In 1976, ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST(1975) was nominated for 9 Academy Awards, winning 5 in all the major categories. But 5 years earlier, another film tackled mental illness (all be it in a different manner) in it's own unique way. This film was THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS(1971). Now many would argue that Cuckoo's Nest was a superior film, and they would probably be right. They Might Be Giants was shot on a miniscule budget, and was cut down for release by studio exec's. In a further insult, the same studio exec's refused to support the Director's bid for a wide release. It's a shame too, because it featured one of the most overlooked comic performances in film history. George C.Scott plays Justin Playfair, a retired judge who thinks he's Sherlock Holmes. And he does it perfectly. Right down to the subtle gestures and mannerisms. In one of films best scenes, Playfair arrives in a local Mental Institution for an evaluation. A struggle breaks out with the patient before him (a mute, who refuses to reveal even his name) and it's up to Holmes to save the day. And Save the day he does. The Dialogue in this scene is brilliant. Some of the best I've ever heard. And it's all Scott. Not only does he get the man to talk, he guesses his name! The supporting cast is excellent as well. Joanne Woodward is the perfect foil as Dr Watson, Jack Gilford as Wilbur Peabody, and the rest of the New York actors are real, and delightfully eccentric. The end of the film with the "March to find Moriarty" is a classic. Listen to the music in this scene, it's great! So if you liked Cuckoo's nest, check this one out...you won't regret it!!

  • If you've never seen this it's worth looking for
    by johno-21 on 6 March 2006

    10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

    This is one of those films that is so quirky that you love watching it. Certainly not a big budget film despite having two great actors in George C. Scott and Joanne Woodward but it is a fun film. Director Anthony Harvey had an odd career. He only directed nine theatrical feature films and in only his second film he hit a home run with 1968's The Lion in Winter getting seven Academy Award nominations including Best Picture and Best Director for himself. He didn't win in those two categories but that film did win three Oscars. He didn't direct another film for three years until he came out with They Might be Giants which was such a small film and such a departure from his previous big historical epic. George C. Scott turns in an excellent performance here as does Woodward. This isn't a great film but it's fun and interesting and the supermarket scene is a riot. I've seen this a couple of times and would definitely like to see it again sometime. I would give this a 7.5 on a scale of 10.

  • A fun movie! One of my Top Three All-Time Favs...
    by radiocycle on 30 June 2004

    11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

    This movie is in my Top Ten of all time flicks! Scott was made for this role. No one could have done it better. I'm surprised how many people have never seen this gem. The writing is brilliant, acting superb! All of human emotion can be seen in this little film. OK, I don't quite understand the ending but that really doesn't detract from the whole. I laugh and cry no matter how many times I watch it. Scott is for the underdog and can see human nature as no one else can. Joanne Woodward falls head-over-heels for Justin and realizes the only way she can reach him is through assimilating his reality. It's a romantic comedy that should not be missed.

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