Walter Mencken 12:34 p.m., July 24
Top Ten "Turkey" Films to Help Combat the Effects of Drowsiness Brought on by the Tryptophan
Before you paws for a nap, try one of these stimulating "turkey" treats!
10.) Pieces of April / Peter Hedges (2003) Katie Holmes plays a rebellious daughter who throws together a Thanksgiving dinner for her dying mother and the rest of her family. If you’re strapped and there’s only 5 minutes left before the video store closes, you could do worse.
9.) Low-Cal Munster / Norman Abbott (1964) Lily won’t allow Herman to attend a reunion of his war buddies unless he loses enough weight to fit into his old uniform. Canned laughter ensues when Herman goes on a starvation diet that ends Thanksgiving Day. Be on the lookout for Paul Lynde as “Dr. Dudley.”
8.) Holiday Inn / Mark Sandrich (1942) Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, Marjorie Reynolds, and Virginia Dale star in a film for all holiday seasons! Christmas, New Year’s, The 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, you name it, and there’s a corresponding musical number to thrill and delight, although unless you like the smell of burnt cork, you may want to skip Lincoln’s birthday. This is much better than its remake, White Christmas, which downgrades from Astaire to Danny Kaye.
7.) Jerky Turkey / Tex Avery (1945) Tex Avery’s take on Plymouth Rock pits a turkey with a Jimmy Durante schnozzola against a hapless pilgrim who sound a lot like Droopy. To no surprise, it’s one hilarious topical spot-gag after another.
6.) Holiday for Drumsticks / Arthur Davis (1949) Daffy Duck watches as his hillbilly handlers wine and wine the resident turkey for their festival meal. Wanting all of the food for himself, Daffy convinces the turkey to go on a diet in order to avoid the chopping block. Daffy pigs out while Tom starves himself to the point of being mistaken for Kate Bosworth. Guess which bird the backwoods Beauregards decide to dine on for Thanksgiving?
5.) Hannah and Her Sisters / Woody Allen (1986) Woody Allen’s first audience-acknowleded film after Annie Hall (1977) is a near-perfect blend of comedy and drama. Set between two Thanksgiving celebrations, the serious stuff details the romantic lives of three sisters, while the comedy stems from Woody as a neurotic TV director facing an incurable disease.
4.) Cold Turkey / Norman Lear (1971) A tobacco company offers the entire town of Little Rock, Iowa $25,000,000 if all the locals agree to give up smoking for one month. A very funny satire made by Norman Lear and his All in the Family producing partner Bud Yorkin at the peak of their power. Dick Van Dyke leads a superb cast of supporting players including Jean Stapleton, Bob & Ray, Vincent Gardenia, Barnard Hughes, Edward Everett Horton, and the incomparable Judith Lowry as the red-baiting, bullshit-detecting Odie.
3.) Crash Goes the Hash / Jules White (1944) The Three Stooges, mistaken for newspaper reporters by Vernon Dent, pose as domestics to get a candid picture of Mrs. Van Bustle and Prince Shaam of Ubedarn. Most people remember Curly’s unique recipe for stuffing a turkey that calls for a can ‘o peas.Sadly, the real turkey gold was not to be found on YouTube. In the kitchen, Larry (who loves turkey) bends to scrape some gum off his shoe. Mistaking him for a kitchen table, Moe places a scalding, fresh from the oven bird on Larry’s back. Study Moe’s dubbed-in admonitions that caution Larry to never “do or say anything to a turkey again!”
2.) The Last Waltz / Martin Scorsese (1978) Do you think that I was going to pass up a chance to give thanks to Him during this most festive time of year, especially with Hugo, a Paramount Pictures release of a GK Films Production personally directed by Martin Scorsese, opening today in theatres across America? The ultimate concert movie was filmed on Thanksgiving, 1976.
1.) Johnny Guitar / Nicholas Ray (1954) If you like your turkey blacklisted and/or crucified, Johnny Guitar is the film for you! Ben Cooper plays “Turkey,” the young, effeminate member of a band of outlaws who goes full-Judas by ratting out his friends. Joan Crawford, Sterling Hayden and Mercedes McCambridge lead an all-star cast in the weirdest, and most beautiful western ever filmed.