Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Case Study No. 1655: Wilbur Peabody

"They Might Be Giants" Movie--Clip from film with George C. Scott
"They Might Be Giants" (1971) is a whimsical and appealing movie starring George C. Scott and Joanne Woodward. Scott stars as Justin Playfair, a former judge who now sincerely believes he is the great detective Sherlock Holmes. His greedy brother wants to have him declared insane, so that he can take-over his estate. To this end he employs a psychiatrist (Woodward) by the name of Dr. Mildred Watson, to certify that Playfair is delusional. However, once Dr. Watson meets-up with Scott's character, he becomes convinced that she is THE Dr. Watson. "Holmes" is obsessed with finding Professor Moriarity, and as Mildred follows Playfair around New York, she gradually becomes involved in his world.

In this scene from the movie, Justin Playfair has begun to have doubts that he really is Sherlock Holmes. A sympathetic librarian (Jack Gilford) demonstrates to him how we all have our secret delusions about ourselves. And that it doesn't make us "crazy".

"They Might Be Giants" was released by Universal Pictures and directed by Anthony Harvey, screenplay by James Goldman (from a play by the same name). It includes a sentimental and touching musical score by Ken Thorne. This is another great film that seems to be consigned to oblivion by the move to DVD. The late 1960's and into the 1970's there was an explosion of wonderful creativity in Hollywood. Some really great and daring films were made. Sadly, a thoughtful and appealing little film like this would never get made today. If you have a chance, see if you can find this film somewhere. It truly shows how great movies were once, and what drek passes for "entertainment" today.
Tags: They Might Be Giants George C. Scott Joanne Woodward Ken Thorne They Might Be Giants Movie
Added: 4 years ago
From: frantic1971
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[scene opens with the library enveloped in darkness, save for a lone desk lamp which illuminates the figure of Justin Playfair fast asleep (face down in a book)]
[cut to a closeup of his face, as the elderly male librarian (curly grey hair, glasses, bow tie, dark overcoat, grey scarf) flicks on the light switch, then walks over and shakes the book to wake him up]
[the person walks over and shakes him awake]
WILBUR: What's the matter?
[he groggily raises his head]
JUSTIN: [pause] Nothing much.
WILBUR: What're you doing here?
JUSTIN: I had an urge to read ...
[he casually closes the book]
JUSTIN: Fascinating book.
WILBUR: What's wrong, Holmes? Are you ill?
[he chuckles]
JUSTIN: That is the question ...
[he sighs and leans back in his chair]
JUSTIN: You're my final friend, do you know that? You're the last.
WILBUR: Where's Doctor Watson?
[Justin merely stares off into space]
JUSTIN: Tell me something offhand ...
[the librarian shakes his head]
WILBUR: She won't leave you.
JUSTIN: Who would you say I was?
[he does not reply]
JUSTIN: I've spent quite a lot of time researching. This is the perfect place for it.
[he looks at the book on the desk]
JUSTIN: "Who's Who" ...
[he chuckles again]
JUSTIN: No, not for me. For him. I have to be very clear on that point.
WILBUR: What you need is some breakfast.
[he places his metal lunchpail down on the table]
WILBUR: Would you like a jelly doughnut?
[ignoring him, Justin gets up and begins pacing around the room]
JUSTIN: Listen. Here he is ... Playfair, Justin. Born New York City, Nineteen Twenty Three. Harvard College, Harvard Law. Thesis published, Forty Eight. Married, Nineteen Fifty. Lucy Clarke.
[he stops at the mention of that name, raising an eyebrow]
JUSTIN: Pretty name, Lucy.
[he suddenly starts looking around the room in confusion]
JUSTIN: [whispers] Lucy ... Lucy.
[he shakes his head]
JUSTIN: [whispers] Just a name. Doesn't mean anything.
[he turns to the librarian and points at the desk]
JUSTIN: There are his accomplishments ...
[he laughs]
JUSTIN: Why, he's a happy man ... and proud.
[he sits down in another chair and sighs]
JUSTIN: [whispers] Christ's sake, which is my life?
WILBUR: [from off camera] I've got some chicken broth.
[he looks over at the librarian]
JUSTIN: You haven't answered me.
WILBUR: I'll heat it up.
JUSTIN: Where are my memories?
[he rubs his temple]
JUSTIN: I can't remember childhood ... I have no past.
WILBUR: [from off camera] That's not so bad.
[cut to the librarian walking towards Justin]
WILBUR: I haven't either.
[Justin continues rubbing his temples in confusion]
JUSTIN: There's got to be more in here than Moriarty ...
[he suddenly looks up]
JUSTIN: I dreamed it all. That must be it.
[the librarian shakes his head]
WILBUR: Stop feeling sorry for yourself! What's wrong with being Sherlock Holmes, I'd like to know ... Sometimes, I wish to god I were the Scarlet Pimpernel!
JUSTIN: [whispers] You do?
[the librarian nods, then strikes a "regal" pose]
WILBUR: A fop by day ... but after dark, I ride!
[he smiles and lightly bobs up and down (as if riding a horse), then pantomimes pulling out a sword]
WILBUR: Abuse the meek, will you?
[he pretends to engage in a swordfight before delivering the "death blow"]
WILBUR: Have that!
[he sheaths his "sword"]
WILBUR: Who am I? Ha! Is he in heaven? Is he in hell? That damned elusive Pimpernel!
[he pauses, as if listening to the final words of his dying opponent]
WILBUR: What's that? You wanna see the face behind the mask? This is the face.
[he covers his face with his hand, then slowly removes it (as Justin looks at him and smiles)]
JUSTIN: [whispers] I think that's beautiful ...
WILBUR: Thank you.



THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS (1971). A wealthy lawyer believes he is Sherlock Holmes and teams with a psychiatrist whose real name is Dr. Watson to try to rid the world of evil. Jack Gilford plays an aged archivist/librarian who dreams of being "The Scarlet Pimpernel." Although his quirkiness and name -- Wilbur Peabody -- do little to instill confidence in his abilities, he does come across as the sanest person in the movie and he finds clues to track down Moriarity. Later in the film he takes up his role as the pimpernel to help save the day.



They Might Be Giants (1971). Wilbur Peabody (Jack Gilford) is a librarian who thinks he is the Scarlet Pimpernel. He is friends with New York Judge Justin Playfair (George C. Scott) who thinks he is Sherlock Holmes. Wilbur does research to track down the imaginary Moriarty. Portions were filmed at the Jefferson Market branch of the New York Public Library.

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