Tuesday, November 25, 2014


We are almost there, Thanksgiving Day, and I thought I would mention a few of the offerings on t.v. with Thanksgiving spirit.

Every historian knows the tale of the Pilgrim's journey to the New World - but where does legend start and reality begin? In this expansive, three-hour look at the arduous voyage to a new land, the award-winning filmmakers of A&E attempt to deliver the final word on the historical trek that would forever change the face of history. Scholastic research combines with historical re-enactments to truly draw the viewer in as the popular myths promoted in elementary school classrooms are methodically disproved and the true tale comes to life more vividly than ever thought possible. The passengers aboard the Scrooby, the Leiden, and the Plymouth gradually dwindle in numbers as they sail across unfamiliar waters and land on strange shores, only to find that life in their new surroundings is equally as unforgiving. After dining alongside Squanto and Samoset at the historic first Thanksgiving, viewers are afforded the opportunity to explore just how that historical meal marked
the beginning of a remarkable, and sometimes tragic, new era. (courtesy of The History Channel)

Plymouth Adventure earned a footnote in film history as the last directorial effort by the prolific Clarence Brown. Otherwise, this colorful re-creation of the Pilgrims' journey to America is a workmanlike job, never inspired but always interesting. Spencer Tracy stars as bull-stubborn Captain Christopher Jones, who intends to guide the Mayflower to its destination come Hell, high water or any other obstacle. Since Jones is spiritually "wed" to his job, the film's romantic angle is handled by Van Johnson as John Alden and Dawn Addams as Patricia Mullen. Gene Tierney is second-billed as Dorothy Bradford, the ill-fated bride of future Plymouth Colony governor William Bradford. Though the film makes several departures from the facts there's even a villain!, Plymouth Adventure tells its tale professionally and with satisfactory entertainment value. The film earned MGM artisan A. Arnold Gillespie an Academy Award for best special effects.
Native American history got the Disney treatment in this biography aimed at younger audiences. Adam Beach stars as Squanto, an Eastern Massachusetts native of the 17th century, who befriends the English settlers who are starting to colonize the region. Naively trusting his new friends, Squanto and his best friend Epenow (Eric Schweig) offer to help some sailors load a vessel that's departing for England. The two Indians are shanghaied and taken across the ocean to serve as sideshow attractions for the greedy owner (Michael Gambon) of the shipping line. Squanto quickly escapes and finds refuge in a nearby cloister, where he is protected by the kindly monks, in particular Brother Daniel (Mandy Patinkin), who teaches Squanto to speak English. Squanto learns of a ship carrying more settlers to the New World, so he stows away and returns to his homeland, where he finds that his village has been wiped out by disease brought by the colonists. Nevertheless, Squanto brokers a peace deal between his hostile brothers and the settlers, and they celebrate the first Thanksgiving together. Beach went on to star in the Native American drama Smoke Signals (1998)
In 1620, the Assembly of the Pilgrims decides to emigrate to the young America because of the persecution they suffer by the English crown. The film tells the adventurous journey of the Pilgrims to an unknown land and future.  This made for t.v. movie hasn't not been aired this year and is only on VHS.
Some of my other favorite holiday viewing included the Thanksgiving Unwrappeds, The Secret Life of Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving Unstuffed on both the FoodNetwork and The Cooking Channel.
And on The History Channel, The Real Story of Thanksgiving and The History of Thanksgiving.

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