A cornucopia of holiday cinema favorites

Greetings, fellow pilgrims of Winchester!

Thanksgiving is trottin’ closer and we are less than a week away.

It’s this time of year when we travel to come together and give thanks for our abundance of blessings from the harvest of life. Though we should give thanks every day, the fourth Thursday in November has become a day of celebration in breaking bread with family and friends.

After we are done basting our arteries with a smorgasbord of starch, a majority of Americans will retire to their TV in a deep tryptophan induced trance to take in a game of football.

I enjoy football, I thought “The Longest Yard” (1974) and “Rudy” (1993) were great films portraying the trials and tribulations of throwing the old pigskin around.

But nothing sets my Mayflower a-sail like a piece of delicious pumpkin pie and a Thanksgiving-themed film to close out the night.

Thanksgiving film you say? Indeed. There are actually more than you think. So come with me on this voyage to look at a few holiday titles that are sure to candy your yams.

Nothing kicks off my Thanksgiving week other than the classic, “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” (1973). It has become an annual event for me since I was a kid, as well as the other Peanuts holiday titles. It is a must for your little ones and guaranteed to make you feel like a kid again.

1991’s “Dutch,” is a road comedy where Ed O’ Neill of “Modern Family” drives out of state to a boarding school to retrieve his girlfriend’s son to return him to his homestead for Thanksgiving dinner.

It’s a funny flick, but is nothing groundbreaking within this sub-genre which has been produced time and time again focusing on two complete opposites forced to work out differences through comical occurrences before ultimately bonding.

“Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” (1987), in my opinion, is the essential cinematic Thanksgiving staple. “Planes” is not just the Thanksgiving film, but the benchmark for a road trip/odd couple comedy/drama.

Every scene is entertaining and every line memorable. John Candy and Steve Martin are absolutely perfect and work well off each other leaving viewers with moments of laughter and tenderness in others.

If carving a turkey was not enough to fill your need to slice and dice, there are even some fright films to get your gravy bubbling.

“Blood Rage” (1982) focuses on a psychopath escaping on Thanksgiving before going on a rampage to avenge his twin brother.

A faux movie trailer produced and screened between the double features of “Grindhouse” (2007), Eli Roth’s “Thanksgiving” showcases a turkey-obsessed psycho pilgrim who embarks on a holiday murder spree in this horror/comedy short. Both titles were heavily inspired by other slasher holiday horror hits such as “Halloween” (1978), “My Bloody Valentine” (1981), and “Silent Night, Deadly Night” (1984).

If you are already looking to Dec. 25 and view Thanksgiving merely as just the beginning to your Christmas season, consider “Rocky” (1976) and “Miracle on 34th Street” (1947). Both stories start on Thanksgiving and will help you transition through the most wonderful time of the year by the time their ending credits roll on the screen.

If you are lost at picking a holiday title this Thanksgiving, but yearn for more leftovers from Halloween, but feel the need to drink some eggnog too, “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993) might be your best bet to guide you out of your festive cinema maze.

So this week, don’t be a turkey and start your own Plymouth Rock of family traditions in selecting some of the casserole of Thanksgiving cinema titles which may make memories, make you smile and make you gobble for more.

Have a filmtastic Thanksgiving!

Rick Baldwin is a writer, filmmaker and film/music historian. He is president of the Winchester-Clark County Film Society (facebook.com/WCCfilmsociety). Find more from Rick on Facebook at facebook.com/ricksrhetoric/ and online at theintestinalfortitude.com/category/reviews-editorials/ricks-rhetoric. He is on Twitter @rickbaldwin79 and can be reached by email at rickbaldwiniii@hotmail.com.