When the winter holidays slip into full gear tomorrow, look for hundreds of seasonal movies to show up on TV; before that happens, let's review some films that honor Thanksgiving:
"Planes, Trains and Automobiles" (1987) - Most folks' favorite Turkey Day movie features a businessman (Steve Martin) and a good-hearted oaf (John Candy) thrown together on the road trip from hell. Watch for the early Kevin Bacon cameo, and the inimitable Edie McClurg as a car-rental clerk. Written and directed by John Hughes ("Home Alone," "Breakfast Club").
"Mouse on the Mayflower" (1968) -Beloved made-for-TV cartoon from Rankin and Bass, who also gave us "Rudolph," "Little Drummer Boy" and "Frosty the Snowman." At a mere 48 minutes, "Mouse" features plenty of musical numbers, plus voicing by Tennessee Ernie Ford and Eddie Albert - but good luck finding a copy to watch.
"Nobody's Fool" (1994) - Late-career favorite with Paul Newman as a ne'er-do-well who reunites with his son on Thanksgiving. Co-starring Bruce Willis, Melanie Griffith and - in her final role - Jessica Tandy.
"Broadway Danny Rose" (1984) - Neglected gem from Woody Allen about a no-luck talent scout (Allen) and his ragtag performers, who - in a charming final scene - gather on Thanksgiving for frozen turkey and low-budget beer. Allen's "Hannah and Her Sisters" is actually more focused on the holiday - but I like this film better.
"By the Light of the Silvery Moon" (1953) - Sequel to the enormously successful "On Moonlight Bay" (1951), both based on stories by Booth Tarkington. This musical stars Doris Day and Gordon MacRae, along with young Billy Gray, who wants to save the family turkey from its impending fate.
"Pieces of April" (2005) - Touching, funny and beautifully acted dramedy starring Katie Holmes as a misfit daughter who, in a cramped Manhattan apartment, struggles to ready a turkey dinner for her suburban family - including her abusive mother, who is dying of cancer. Written and directed by Peter Hedges ("Dan in Real Life"), with an Oscar-nominated performance from Patricia Clarkson.
"The New World" (2005) - Perhaps the best of many movies about the Pilgrims ("Pocahontas," "Squanto," "Mayflower Adventure"), "World" stars Colin Farrell as John Smith. Directed by Terrence Malick ("Tree of Life"), with Malick's typically stunning visuals and slow, deliberate pace.
"Home for the Holidays" (1995) - Jodie Foster directed this comedy with Holly Hunter as a luckless single mom who hosts a chaotic family gathering on Thanksgiving. With Anne Bancroft and Robert Downey Jr.
"A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" (1973) - Perennial animated favorite in which the lovable chump whips up a makeshift Thanksgiving dinner for friends (his unlikely menu includes toast and jelly beans). With piano music by the brilliant Vince Guaraldi.
"What's Cooking?" (2000) - Four families - black, Hispanic, Jewish and Vietnamese - struggle with quarrels and modern culture as they gather in various homes on Thanksgiving. Politically, the movie leans too far left for my tastes, but it's well acted, with mouth-watering chow scenes; plus, it's a favorite of my mother's - and we all know, you don't argue with mom on Thanksgiving.
Gratitude also to the websites Kaboose and Squidoo, plus several Facebook friends, for helping me compile this list.