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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The house where Rosalind Russell lived with Kim Novak's family was located in Nickerson, Kansas, and was actually across the street from Reno Community High, where Russell's character taught school. Location shooting wrapped in nearby Sterling, Kansas, where the lake and bathhouse scenes were filmed. The movie's Labor Day festivities called for Sterling Lake to be filled with rowboats, which were in short supply since boating wasn't normally allowed. To make up the shortage, anyone who supplied a rowboat stood a good chance of being a movie extra. Sterling was also where William Holden hopped the Missouri Pacific freight train that was then tracked by cinematographer Haskell Wexler in a memorable closing aerial shot. See more »
Toward the end of the film when Hal hops a freight train to Tulsa, he jumps onto a boxcar that has its door shut. He climbs the ladder and stands on top to wave to Madge. In this long shot the boxcar door is now open. See more »
Very Good movie, despite the flaws. A must for anyone into American mid-century drama. Beautifully filmed and written. Some excellent performances. The Good: Rosalind Russell, Arthur O'Connell, Betty Field, Susan Strasberg. The adequate: Kim Novak and Cliff Robertson. The not too great: William Holden. I'm not bothered by Novak's performance, she was often only as good as her director, and Joshua Logan was an entirely stagebound stylist. Holden on the other hand, is entirely miscast. Way too old for the character by at least 10 years. This is a meaty, sweaty, rebellious part suited to a young Paul Newman or James Dean, not a late '30's, already craggy faced William Holden (he was ideally suited for his Bridge on the River Kwai role). The reading of his lines is artificial and contrived, the pacing atrocious. It's really Logan's fault though. In every one of his films, characters, especially the supporting ones, end up performing like cartoon characters... (Betty Field in Bus Stop, Everyone in South Pacific and Fanny)... and in Picnic, Logan lets almost everyone go over the top with this kind of mannered, ill-paced stuff. However, I love this flick too... the story conquers the flaws, and it consistently pulls me in. Rosalind Russell (though she's allowed to go over the top too) and Arthur O'Connell have remarkable scenes together. Good Movie!
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