Picnic

  • 1955
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

Joshua Logan's faithful screen adaptation of William Inge's Pulitzer Prize-winning play about small-town America. PICNIC features a bravura performance by Holden as a drifter come to a small Kansas town just as the community is preparing to celebrate Labor Day. Seeking out old college friend Robertson in the hope of landing a job with Robertson's father,...read more

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Joshua Logan's faithful screen adaptation of William Inge's Pulitzer Prize-winning play about small-town America. PICNIC features a bravura performance by Holden as a drifter come to a small Kansas town just as the community is preparing to celebrate Labor Day. Seeking out old college

friend Robertson in the hope of landing a job with Robertson's father, the richest man in the county, Holden is invited to join in the festivities. What's more, Robertson insists that Holden meet his fiancee, the beautiful Novak, and she and the drifter fall in love at first sight. Holden struts

about the town flexing his muscles, and most of the local ladies, including Novak's naive younger sister, Strasberg, and schoolmarm Russell, fall for the handsome stranger. Holden brags about his adventures, and Russell gets drunk while admiring him, thrusting aside her reliable date, O'Connell,

and losing control, ripping Holden's shirt right off his back in her seizure of lust. Along with this humiliation, Holden is forced into a fight with Robertson so that he beats up his old friend and then must run from the law, dragging Novak with him. He finally persuades her to return home,

confessing that he's nothing but a bum and a liar. Novak does go home, and Holden exits the way he arrived, by hopping a freight train. Novak, however, realizes that her love for Holden is stronger than the security of home and she takes a bus heading in the same direction as the train, intending

to catch up with the love of her life.

Holden is brilliant; Novak, in her first major role, was terrified of botching the job but performs admirably. The love scenes between the two have real fire, and the sequence showing their dance together is as sensual as any recorded on film. Hollywood lore has it that Holden didn't believe he

was up to the famous slow dance with Novak. Logan, who rubbed every scene in the film to high gloss, took Holden to roadhouses and compelled him to dance with choreographer Nelson to jukebox songs until the actor was confident he could perform on the dance floor. Cinematographer Howe circled the

two dancers with his camera, showing them mostly from the waist up, their eyes riveted to each other, capturing the love scene in one take. That scene became one of the most famous of the 1950s and it made "Moonglow" a sensational hit. The film was shot in Hutchinson, Kansas, and in Columbia's

Burbank Studio.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Joshua Logan's faithful screen adaptation of William Inge's Pulitzer Prize-winning play about small-town America. PICNIC features a bravura performance by Holden as a drifter come to a small Kansas town just as the community is preparing to celebrate Labor… (more)

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