They Might Be Giants – Blu-Ray Review

They Might Be Giants might be best known now for being the film that the nerdy indie band of the same name who wrote that song about a nightlight took their name from. This is very cool but the film is actually worth seeing as well. It takes it name from line of dialogue about Don Quixote believing windmills are giants or at the very least they might be giants.

It stars George C. Scott near the end of his extraordinary run of roles in the ’60s and ’70s, he would win the best actor Oscar for Patton in 1970. Paul Newman’s wife Joanne Woodward and a great actress in her own right co-stars. Scott is a millionaire Justin Playfair who believes himself to be Sherlock Holmes after his wife passes away. Woodward plays the psychiatrist Mildred Watson. She becomes involved in the case of  Justin Playfair after his brother tries to commit him for observation. They ended up becoming a team like Sherlock and Watson in the then modern-day New York City.

The film is very interesting mainly due to how it plays around in a light-hearted but ultimately deeply moving way with what means to be sane or insane and finally who is really insane? It could almost be a Terry Gilliam film in that way and in some ways predates what he did so brilliantly in The Fisher King. I wonder if the screenwriter Richard LaGravenese had They Might Be Giants in the back of his mind when he wrote The Fisher King.

The two lead performances are obviously great and they have real chemistry. George C. Scott had a reputation for being difficult but from all accounts it looks like it was a fairly smooth shoot for everyone involved. Woodward gives arguably the more impressive performance by being initially a skeptic but eventually believing in Playfair’s madness. It also marks the debut of F. Murray Abraham who has a small role in the film.

Indicator’s release includes both the US theatrical cut which has been out for circulation for some time and the shorter UK theatrical cut. The disc features include a archival commentary from the film’s director Anthony Harvey and film preservationist Robert A Harris, new commentary from film writers Barry Forshaw and Kim Newman, a short promotional making of from the time, Newman does a run down of Sherlock Holmes on screen and the theatrical trailer and stills gallery rounds off the disc. The booklet contains a new essay by Chloe Walker, an account of Anthony Harvey’s career as actor, editor, and director and a overview of contemporary critical responses.


Ian Schultz

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