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Picnic (1955)

 -  Drama | Romance  -  16 February 1956 (USA)
7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 5,661 users  
Reviews: 111 user | 41 critic

Emotions are ignited amongst the complacent townsfolk when a handsome drifter arrives in a small Kansas community on the morning of the Labour Day picnic.

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Title: Picnic (1955)

Picnic (1955) on IMDb 7.2/10

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Won 2 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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Betty Field ...
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Nick Adams ...
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Christine Schoenwalder (as Elizabeth W. Wilson)
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Storyline

The morning of a small town Labor Day picnic, a drifter (Hal Carter) blows into town to visit an old fraternity buddy (Alan Benson) who also happens to be the son of the richest man in town. Hal is an egocentric braggart - all potential and no accomplishment. He meets up with Madge Owens, the town beauty queen and girlfriend of Alan Benson. Written by Erik L. Ellis <ele@eece.unm.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A never-to-be forgotten picture - from the Pulitzer Prize winning story by William Inge! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

16 February 1956 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Picknick  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (DVD)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In 1957 a marketing investigator, James Vicary, announced that for six weeks he had included subliminal messages in showings of this movie. The messages supposedly said: "Eat popcorn, drink Coca-Cola." According to Vicary, the sales of this products increased from 18% to 57%. Even though his experiment led him to fame, Vicary never gave details of how he came to his conclusions, and admitted in a later interview that everything was just a marketing trick. See more »

Goofs

This is not really a goof. At the time of the film (1955) in the fictitious town of Salinson (a mix of the city names of Salina and Hutchinson, both filming locales), both the Salina Journal and the Hutchinson News were afternoon papers, producing a first edition shortly after noon and a home delivery edition after 3 pm. The Salina Journal did not become a morning paper until the 1970s (I was a Journal staffer 1969-1995). See more »

Quotes

Hal Carter: I'm tellin' ya, Benson, women are getting desperate!
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Connections

Featured in Precious Images (1986) See more »

Soundtracks

It's a Blue World
(uncredited)
Written by Bob Wright and Chet Forrest
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Flawed but Haunting and Powerful
26 June 2003 | by (Stony Brook, NY) – See all my reviews

Picnic offers superior acting all around, some great cinematography, and a number of excellent scenes, including the famous dance sequence between Holden and Novak. The writing, unfortunately, veers between wonderful and maudlin, and the movie feels outdated in many ways. Worst of all, the directing and music can be heavy-handed at times, clubbing the viewer with melodrama in some of the key moments, when a more subtle approach would have turned this into a real classic.

Yet, despite its flaws, there's something special about this film. It has a haunting quality that I can't quite put my finger on. A kind of nostalgia - not for the supposed innocence of small-town life, which the film shows to be a myth, but for the disappearing natural wildness of ourselves as people, the primitive element in humanity that both causes problems and gives us real vitality.

My wife and I found ourselves discussing Picnic at length over dinner the following night and even watched several of the scenes again. There are many good details and powerful moments scattered among the weaker parts. I appreciated William Holden's performance even more the second time around - his sense of impatience and desperation are palpable. And he's such a great presence on the screen - I wound up watching him more than Novak in the dance sequence. In fact, my one disappointment with this scene is that Novak doesn't serve as his cinematic equal. She's no Bacall who can fill the screen with Bogart. Rosalind Russell and Arthur O'Connell both do great jobs, especially during the scene where they are discussing marriage. Susan Strasberg pulls off a difficult role and manages to look even more attractive than Kim Novak at times, reminding me of a young Winona Ryder.

The Holden and Novak characters are both viewed as sexual objects, yet they're actually quite humble people who can't handle the shallowness of the society around them and who are searching for genuine love. William Holden is always a pleasure to watch, and his fans should find this role particularly interesting. Picnic won't go down as a great film, but there is a great film lurking somewhere inside it.


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