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The Twilight Zone (1959)
Best T.V. series on this planet or any other!
Simply put, the original "Twilight Zone" is undeniably the best series that has ever been on T.V.!!! The sheer genius of Rod Serling has amazed, frightened and enlightened us since 1959, and remains as fresh and relevant today as it was back in the '50's and 60's.
The sets were simple and the casts were small, low budget even. Despite that, Serling had the uncanny ability to transport you to the far reaches of space as well as the inner depths of your own psyche, and after every episode, you felt changed in some way.
Original, unique, inventive and even controversial, are some of the words used to describe this show, and it certainly is all those things. "The Twilight Zone" was a true lesson in the Human Condition. It showed us both the beautiful and the ugly side of human nature.
There has never been anything like it before, and I seriously doubt there will ever be anything like it again. It is a T.V. masterpiece, and one that will stand on it's own for decades to come.
Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987)
A Thanksgiving tradition in our household! A terrific and sweet movie!
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles has become a Thanksgiving tradition in our house. Even though it is considered a comedy and rightly so, it is so much more.
It is a lesson in tolerance, trust and friendship. In my book, it is John Candy's finest performance hands down! His versatility shines right through in this film from beginning to end.
It is also one of my favorite Steve Martin roles. He is perfect as the uptight, fastidious, and intolerant Neal Page who's frustration over a client who can't make up his mind over which advertising campaign to go with, causes him to worry that he will be late getting home in time to share Thanksgiving with his family.
Candy is also perfect as Dell Griffith, the overbearing but well meaning nomadic shower curtain ring salesman. He adds such sensitivity and sweetness to the role that it takes this movie from a rolling in the aisles comedy, to a sweet and tender story about two strangers overcoming their character flaws to walk in each others shoes for a moment.
To be sure, it's hilariously funny and I never tire of the gags and pratfalls every time I see it. But for me, it's more about what these two men learn about themselves and from each other.
This one is a real charmer, and while you can view it anytime, it seems especially apropos at Thanksgiving.
The Awakening Land (1978)
One of the top mini series. A classic!
The Awakening Land is right up there at the top of my list for best mini series, right behind The Thorn Birds and Centennial. The late Elizabeth Montgomery gives a tour d'force performance that I consider to be her best work.
Of all the period pieces I've seen about the early settlers and trailblazers in young America, this one seems to give you a very accurate sense of what life was like for these brave souls who dared to venture out into the wilderness.
You'll get no Hollywood fluff here. You won't see women traipsing around with their hair perfectly coiffed and in gowns that look like they just came off the runways of the top fashion houses in Paris. The women in this story literally wear sacks for dresses, have unkempt hair, dirty faces and live in shacks out in the wilds.
What you do see are people struggling for food and fighting the elements in an untamed land as well as constantly fighting off predators, both man and beast alike just to survive.
You see how these early settlers struggled to work their land and come together from their meager beginnings to grow and form towns. You share in their triumphs and their losses in order to make a better life for themselves.
At the heart of this story is Elizabeth Montgomery as the courageous Sayward Luckett, who struggles not only to survive herself, but to take care of her sisters when her mother dies and her father takes off to go trailblazing on his own. With only her wits and her courage to keep her going, she not only survives, but becomes the true heroine of this story.
Hal Holbrook and Jane Seymour give wonderful performances as well, but it is Montgomery's exquisite portrayal of the feisty pioneer woman that makes this such a pleasure to watch.
I am shocked and surprised to find that The Awakening Land is not yet available on DVD. Hopefully it will be soon. But I strongly urge anyone who has not yet seen it to try and get a hold of it on VHS or check out your cable service to see if it's listed and watch it. It is one of the best and truly worth your time!