Best Movies set around ‘Thanksgiving’ – I

On Sept. 6, 1620, a group of Puritans from England set sail on a ship called “Mayflower” and after 65 days set foot on “New World” (USA). They settled in a town called ‘Plymouth’ (Massachusetts). The travelers’ first winter was so harsh. Around March, the group visited by Native Americans (“Indians”). With their help, they survived in New World. When the pilgrims’ first harvest was very successful, they decided to throw away feast and invited the Native Americans to their colony. Many historians say that the food served was like fish and venison, rather than the traditional Thanksgiving dish “Turkey.” Now, nearly four centuries later, the Native Americans have perished or been confined to ‘reservations,’ but the tradition hasn’t died. While contemplating all these hard truths, you should also watch some of the best movies set around “Thanksgiving”, which celebrates the friendly and family spirit (just like the first ‘Thanksgiving’).

The movie list given here is not based on any ranks. They are just listed according to the year of its release. Some of these movies may not be totally about ‘Thanksgiving’ and some may not be family-friendly, but they all will provide a welcome holiday respite.


A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973)


This breezy and engaging cartoon romp is not actually a feature film. It was a 25 minute holiday special, which was first aired in CBS TV, in November of 1973 and since then “Charlie Brown” has become the perfect film to kick off the ‘Thanksgiving’ season. The story is a simple one. Charlie Brown and his peanuts gang starts exploring the importance of Thanksgiving traditions like turkey, pumpkin pie and football. There’s even a digital story app for this animated special for a whole generation of new fans.


Broadway Danny Rose (1984)


Woody Allen’s delicious and most reasonably humane movie is about the story of the adventures of Broadway Danny Rose, who was recalled by a group of hard-boiled comedians gathered at New York’s infamous Delicatessen. With the frozen Thanksgiving dinners and Danny’s useless comedians, the film is not just about consummation, but also about reconciliation. It gives an acknowledgement that we want the mistakes to be righted, that the faithless will be punished or reformed, and that good will prevail. As Tina says “It’s over quick, so have a good time. You see what you want, go for it. Don’t pay attention to anyone else.”


Hannah and her Sisters (1986)


Woody Allen’s sensitive philosophical family saga follows three sisters as they float in and out of each other’s lives, causing some disastrous outcomes. Between two consecutive turkey days, the film intertwines a lot to give us stories about loss and redemption. The film moves like a novel and most critics have compared it to the plays of Anton Chekov. Like a usual Woody Allen comedy, it is filled with many tart and clever observations. Allen’s Mickey character in the film describes his first date as having been about as much fun as the ‘Nuremberg Trials.’


Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)


This memorable situational comedy was led by two terrific leading performances and by Hughes’ razor-sharp script. Steve Martin plays Neal Page, a Chicago ad executive. He wants to get home for Thanksgiving. But, fate stands in his way, when he comes across an unbelievably annoying salesman named Del Griffith (John Candy). This film is not just a ‘buddy comedy.’ Through all those funny ordeals, you can feel the characters’ desperation for human contact. The ending celebrates the spirit of Thanksgiving, which eradicates the loneliness and brings in familial mood of the holidays.


Avalon (1990)


Barry Levinson’s richly detailed family drama tracks the life of Sam Krichinsky and his immigrant Jewish family. Every year, Sam’s family gathers for the Turkey time. Through Thanksgiving celebrations, the film captures the wishful and changeable nature of family knowledge. That particular day illustrates Sam, just how far certain section of his family has traveled beyond the simplicity and hard work of those initial years. The depictions of suburban childhood, family feuds, and enchantments of grand parenting are not simply used for emotional manipulation. It goes straight to a viewer’s heart.


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