Bill Crider summarizes the plot in his new “Overlooked Movies” post:
George C. Scott plays [retired judge Justin Playfair] a man who, because of an incomprehensible loss, develops a new way of dealing with the world. He thinks he’s Sherlock Holmes, and he collects newspaper clippings that lead him to the conclusion that there is indeed a malevolent force in the world, and that force is Moriarty. Naturally everyone thinks he’s nuts, but his analyst, Dr. Watson (Joanne Woodward) is gradually drawn into his world.Yvette Banek picks up that thread in her own post:
Watson is bemused by Holmes (as well as professionally intrigued) as he leads her into more and more hair-brained encounters, skulking about the city looking for “clues.” She comes to admire the judge’s--aka Holmes--philosophy of good and evil. She calls the judge a Don Quixote aiming at windmills, but he, in a key scene, explains to her the difference between himself and Cervantes’ creation. He makes eminent sense.I’ve only ever watched They Might Be Giants--with its beautiful John Barry theme--one time through. But with so much attention being lavished today upon this unconventional production (Banek calls it “one of those near-perfect films that just missed the mark but still is good enough to enchant”), I am provoked to see it again. It appears that YouTube offers the whole movie, in nine parts, beginning here.
This unlikely pair grow closer as their adventures around the city [of New York] lead them into several encounters with the odd and eccentric, including a sweet elderly couple who haven’t set foot outside their old apartment in over 40 years. They devote themselves entirely to their topiary garden on the roof. This is one of my favorite parts in the film.
Eventually Holmes and Watson are joined in their quest by all the misfits they’ve encountered along the way in a kind of march of the “irregulars.”
READ MORE: “Guest Review: They Might Be Giants (1971),” by Philip Schweier (Thrilling Days of Yesteryear).