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4.7 7
Director: Joshua Logan, William Holden, Rosalind Russell, Kim Novak

Cast: Joshua Logan, William Holden, Rosalind Russell, Kim Novak

One of the biggest box-office attractions of the 1950s, Picnic was adapted by Daniel Taradash from the Pulitzer Prize-winning William Inge play. William Holden plays Hal Carter, a handsome drifter who ambles into a small Kansas town during the Labor Day celebration to look up old college chum Alan (Cliff Robertson, in his film debut). Hoping to hit up Alan for


One of the biggest box-office attractions of the 1950s, Picnic was adapted by Daniel Taradash from the Pulitzer Prize-winning William Inge play. William Holden plays Hal Carter, a handsome drifter who ambles into a small Kansas town during the Labor Day celebration to look up old college chum Alan (Cliff Robertson, in his film debut). Hoping to hit up Alan for a job--or a handout--Hal ends up stealing his buddy's fiancee Madge Owens (Kim Novak). Hal also has a catnip effect on spinster schoolteacher Rosemary Sydney (Rosalind Russell), so much so that Rosemary makes a fool of herself in front of the whole town, nearly driving away her longtime beau Howard Bevans (Arthur O'Connell). Persuaded by his friends and family that Hal is no damn good, Madge is prepared to break off her relationship. As anyone who remembers the film's famous overhead closing shot knows, however, Madge is ultimately ruled by her heart and not her head. For a film set in Kansas, there's an awful lot of New York talent in the supporting cast (Susan Strasberg and Phyllis Newman come immediately to mind); still, the Midwestern ambience comes through loud and clear, especially during the perceptively detailed Labor Day picnic sequence. Broadening the film's appeal is its George Duning-Steve Allen title song, a variation of the old standard "Moonglow." Two sidebars: The original Broadway production of Picnic starred Ralph Meeker and Paul Newman; for the film version of Picnic, William Holden was obliged to shave his chest, lest his hairy torso cause the female moviegoers to conjure up impure thoughts.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Amy Robinson
This classic adaptation of Holiday, William Inge's tale of repressed small-town sexuality, stands as the cinematic highpoint of successful Broadway director Joshua Logan. The deceptively calm waters of a close-knit Kansas community are disturbed by the arrival of a handsome drifter to the all-important Labor Day picnic. Originally a small-town girl herself, sexy Kim Novak gives a vulnerable, touching performance as the local beauty queen who longs for romance, while a buff William Holden portrays the drifter as a well-meaning but none-too-bright loser -- alternately charming and awkward; always self-defeating. Almost stealing the show, veteran actress Rosalind Russell offers such a fascinatingly grotesque take on the standard spinster role that she tears across the screen like a force of nature. And the evocative production design by Jo Mielzner and cinematography by veteran James Wong Howe tie it all together, perfectly capturing the bleakness of the story's restrictive setting. Long regarded as one of the sexiest films ever made, Picnic's overheated melodrama forcefully expresses the playwright's critical view of the era's sexual mores, making it a striking representation of '50s America.
All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Based on a highly acclaimed play and awarded numerous Oscar nominations, Picnic has not aged as well as many other films from the same period. What in 1955 seemed daring and erotic now comes across as overly obvious and frightfully tame, a great deal of much ado about nothing. Worse, the film belies its stage origins, always feeling like a play instead of a movie, despite logical attempts to open it up. Speeches which had a significant impact onstage come across as mannered and artificial, and director Joshua Logan has a difficult time setting up shots and sequences involving more than two or three characters. Still, there's an undercurrent of deeper meaning underneath the surface that still manages to make its presence felt in a powerful way, and the famous dance segment still packs a punch. Although too old for the part, William Holden conveys the hidden desperation and fear of his character well and has the right physical presence the role requires. Kim Novak gives one of her better performances; the somewhat disconnected feeling she brings to her roles works well for a young girl who is disconnected from her surroundings and her future. Many may feel that Rosalind Russell goes too far over the top, but it's a brave attempt that mostly works and that creates some touching and deeply painful moments. As her love interest, Arthur O'Connell has a quiet strength that plays very nicely off of Russell. Picnic also benefits from its rich cinematography, capturing the golden tones of a summer day with beauty and precision, and from its sinuous score. Logan would direct the film version of another Inge play, Bus Stop, the following year.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Sony Pictures
Region Code:
[Full Frame, Wide Screen]
[Dolby Digital]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Closed Caption; Photo montage; Vintage advertising; Bonus previews; Talent files; Theatrical trailer

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
William Holden Hal Carter
Rosalind Russell Rosemary Sydney
Kim Novak Madge Owens
Betty Field Flo Owens
Susan Strasberg Millie Owens
Cliff Robertson Alan
Arthur O'Connell Howard Bevans
Verna Felton Mrs. Helen Potts
Reta Shaw Linda Sue Breckenridge
Nick Adams Bomber
Raymond Bailey Mr. Benson
Elizabeth Wilson Christine Schoenwalder
Phyllis Newman Juanita Badger
Don C. Harvey First Policeman
Steve Benton Second Policeman

Technical Credits
Joshua Logan Director
Clay Campbell Makeup
George Cooper Sound/Sound Designer
Carter DeHaven Asst. Director
George Duning Score Composer
William Flannery Art Director
James Wong Howe Cinematographer
Fred Kohlmar Producer
Jean Louis Costumes/Costume Designer
William Lyon Editor
Jo Mielzinger Production Designer
Charles Nelson Editor
Miriam Nelson Choreography
Robert Priestley Set Decoration/Design
Morris W. Stoloff Musical Direction/Supervision
Daniel Taradash Screenwriter

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Picnic
1. Start [2:46]
2. Hal Carter [1:19]
3. Madge Owens [2:30]
4. New Yard Man [6:28]
5. Hal's Resume [6:23]
6. Teasing Millie [1:49]
7. Looks Are Everything [4:53]
8. The Granary [3:35]
9. Water Sports [1:40]
10. Wall of Education [3:32]
11. Male Call [1:14]
12. Howard Bevans [5:27]
13. Picnic [5:04]
14. Hal's Old Man [6:36]
15. Artistic Admirer [4:28]
16. Queen of Neewollah [5:25]
17. "Moonglow" [3:50]
18. "Ride 'em, Cowboy!" [2:58]
19. All His Fault [3:54]
20. "I'm a Bum" [4:34]
21. "Take Me With You" [6:32]
22. "You All Right, Baby?" [5:17]
23. Every Right to Be Sore [2:45]
24. On the Lam [1:49]
25. Howard's Hide-Out [4:51]
26. Future Mrs. Bevans [4:43]
27. "I Love You, Madge" [5:00]
28. Tulsa Bound [3:26]


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Picnic 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I never watched this movie... for years I'd avoided it... it looked like a 'chick film'. Then once I was laid up, and it came on Turner Classic Movies. I'm been madly in love with this film since that day. The feelings from all the characters is palpable. You can feel the frustrations, the wants & desires, the angst of being forced into a box built by where you live, whom you are. (Perhaps feelings that *you* might feel in your life!) I might be crazy, but the love story within the movie makes one feel that anything is possible with love. I feel the pain, hope, dreams of the charaters in this film... something a truely great film should do to a person. The film is worth watching for the last scene alone, the final shot brings you to such a hopeful feeling, tinged with uncertainty, but hopeful that it WILL work out. You really must watch this movie, or you'll sadly have missed a fantastic part of the american film culture. This movie does what movies should do to you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite summer movies. It is everything a hot summer day should be. The Moonglow dance is the sexiest scene I have ever seen!! Denifinetaly worth a look.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A truly great film which includes a great story and superb acting. Kim Novak and Rosalind Russell give outstanding performances...probably their best ever. If you like classic films, don't miss this one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie was very entertaining. William Holden, Kim Novak, and the entire supporting cast give cool, unique performances. I'm only a freshman in high school, so if a I can sit through this- I'm pretty sure anyone can. It's not long and boring. It actually goes by pretty fast since most of the drama happens at an annual picnic. Trust me- if you're in the mood for a good ol' lazy-summer-afternoon-movie: here it is!
FastEddyEP More than 1 year ago
Have'nt watchws it but my wife (her selection) is just crazy about it and re-watches it at least once a week, Price and Delivery very good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago