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6 Classic Thanksgiving Drama Flicks

These amazing movies are anything but turkeys

  • Rocky (1976)
    United Artists/Everett Collection

    "Rocky" (1976)

    It's on Thanksgiving that the struggling fighter Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) goes home for dinner with his friend Paulie (Burt Young) and finally convinces Paulie's sister Adrian to go out on a date with him. Well, actually, it's Paulie who forces the issue, by pulling the turkey that Adrian is baking from the oven, throwing it away and insisting that the two go out. What follows is Rocky and Adrian's impromptu visit to an ice rink, and in one of the loveliest first-date scenes ever filmed, we witness two people, unsteady on their feet, awkwardly and inevitably slipping into love.

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  • Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
    Orion Pictures/Everett Collection

    "Hannah and Her Sisters" (1986)

    Woody Allen's story of three sisters and their romantic misadventures bridges three Thanksgivings, and each observance provides a benchmark for the women's various relationships. There are the usual Allen-esque complications — illicit affairs, treacherous deceits and lots and lots of neuroses, particularly on the part of Woody's character Mickey, the ex-husband of Hannah (Mia Farrow).

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  • Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)
    Everett Collection

    "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" (1987)

    Anyone who has ever endured a seemingly doomed voyage home for the holidays will find this John Hughes comedy at once hilarious and vaguely disturbing. Steve Martin is the family man and executive who just wants to get home from Manhattan to Chicago in time for Thanksgiving dinner; John Candy is the effusive shower curtain ring salesman who somehow becomes joined at the hip with Steve as the short intercity hop rapidly devolves into an abyss of transportation modes that variously break down, take wrong turns or simply burst into flames.

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  • The Ice Storm (1997)
    Everett Collection

    "The Ice Storm" (1997)

    It's hard to ignore this one, but although the story unfolds on a Thanksgiving weekend, it's not really a movie you'd want to gather the kids for after the Macy's Parade. Ang Lee's scorched-earth study of suburban life in 1973 introduces us to an alcoholic businessman (Kevin Kline), his distraught wife (Joan Allen) and their nymphomaniac daughter (Christina Ricci). There's adultery, drug use and a crippling ice storm that freezes everyone into one way-too-cramped situation. The cast is uniformly perfect, and Lee's portrait of a culture where taboos are tossed aside like lingerie is as chilling as its title.

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  • The War at Home (1996)
    Buena Vista Pictures/Everett Collection

    "The War at Home" (1996)

    Why Emilio Estevez didn't win an Oscar for his heartbreaking performance as a traumatized Vietnam veteran enduring a disastrous Thanksgiving at home is one of the great shames of Award-dom. Estevez directed the film — with his real-life dad Martin Sheen and Kathy Bates as his parents — and he crafted a painfully intimate portrait of a family at the end of its rope. The final scenes of The War at Home are as powerful a 15 minutes as you'll ever spend watching a movie.

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  • Alice's Restaurant (1969)
    Everett Collection

    "Alice's Restaurant" (1969)

    The most famous Thanksgiving dinner of the 1960s gets the big-screen treatment from director Arthur Penn in this quirky rendering of Arlo Guthrie's subversive song. Arlo plays himself, narrating the story of how, after a "Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat," he and a buddy were arrested for dumping Alice's garbage along a roadside. It's hard to imagine today that Alice's Restaurant was considered terribly edgy back in the turbulent '60s.

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