MEALS FOR MONSTERS: THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS (1971)
Movie review and recipes by Jenny Orosel
I’ve wanted to write about THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS (1971) for a long time. Up until recently, though, the meal would have needed to be ramen noodles. It’s a rarity: the DVD will run you an average of a hundred dollars, and even a videotape costs about twenty. However, Netflix just added it to its instant watch library. To celebrate that this masterpiece can finally be easily seen, I dedicate this month’s column to George C. Scott’s finest role.
Scott plays Justin Playfair, a judge who, upon the death of his wife, had a mental breakdown. He believes he is Sherlock Holmes. He dresses the part, acts the part, lives and breathes Holmes’s life. All his brother has to do to gain access to Playfair’s fortune is have him declared legally insane. Should be an easy task for someone so delusional. So he enlists the help of Dr. Mildred Watson, beautifully played by Joanne Woodward. After the initial shock that his Watson is a woman, Playfair drags her along his quest to find, and finally defeat, Moriarity. At first she agrees, fascinated by a “classical case,” but Watson eventually becomes enamored with Playfair’s kindness and enthusiasm. Along the way, they collect clues, aid distressed citizens of New York City, and begin to fall in love. Is there a real Moriarity after him? Is Playfair really insane? And does that matter?
THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS is as close to a perfect movie as I’ve seen. The actors, although superstars, fade so well into their roles that it doesn’t take long to forget that you’re watching the same guy who played PATTON (1970), or the woman who played the doctor in SYBIL (1976). The script has some of the wittiest dialogue I’ve encountered, and there are many laugh-out-loud moments. And considering that I normally despise romance movies, this little love story is enchanting. The clumsy gestures Playfair and Watson make toward each other is not only relatable, but recognizable. They are so painfully human that, especially for people who never felt they were completely normal, we can see ourselves in their stumbles and eventual successes.
Now that I’ve gushed like a drooling fangirl, it’s time to create a menu for this movie. Sherlock Holmes drinks tea. Makes sense, as he’s British and all. But simply brewing up tea would be much too dull for THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS. Instead, I created a Holmes Cocktail:
2 parts Earl Grey tea
1 part rum
Directions: Sweeten to taste (sweetener isn’t necessary if you don’t normally take your tea that way. But if you prefer your brew with a little sugar, adjust the sweetness as you would normally for non-alcoholic tea).
A running gag throughout the movie is what a horrible cook Watson is. Despite her lack of skill, she is determined to cook dinner for Playfair. Much to her embarrassment, she burns the soup on the stovetop. In honor of her, I present:
1 pound ground beef
1 package frozen mixed vegetables
1 small can diced tomatoes
2 large cartons beef broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Directions: Season the meat with salt and pepper. Brown the meat until there is no pink left. Drain the fat. Add the vegetables, tomatoes and broth. Bring to a boil. Enjoy.
Watson isn’t the only person to be charmed by Playfair. The local librarian has befriended him, and allows him full access to the library any time he needs, for as long as he needs. After being abandoned by Watson and burying himself in his work, the librarian consoles Playfair with a jelly donut. What better dessert is there than that?
I tube refrigerated biscuit dough
1 jar jelly (pick your favorite flavor)
Bowl of sugar
Directions: Heat about two inches of oil in a pot until it bubbles when a wooden spoon is placed in it. Drop in biscuit dough, three or four at a time depending on the size of the pot. When it browns, flip it over (should just be a minute or two). When golden on both sides, remove from oil and toss in the sugar. Place on a rack to cool.
While the donuts cool enough to handle, warm the jelly on low heat until liquid. Poke a hole in the donut with a knife, and fill with jelly using a turkey baster.
A bit of trivia about THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS: yes, this movie is where the band got its name.
If you don’t have Netflix, it’s worth dropping eight bucks for one month just so you can see THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS. If there’s any movie that deserves a bigger audience, maybe with a Criterion release, it’s this one. At least we finally have the option of seeing it, if only on a digital view. And what better way to celebrate than settling down for a nice, easy meal and a movie with someone you feel a great affection toward? And afterwards, maybe go fight some windmills. Because, although it’s likely they aren’t giants, they just might be.
© Copyright 2012 by Jenny Orosel