Down 326 this week

Picnic (1955)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  16 February 1956 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.2/10 from 6,040 users  
Reviews: 112 user | 42 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.



(screenplay), (play)
Watch Trailer
0Check in

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video


TV Spotlight: The Top 10 Episodes of "The Walking Dead"

We've curated a list of the top 10 episodes of "The Walking Dead" according to the IMDb user ratings.

Read More

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 40 titles
created 25 Nov 2010
a list of 44 titles
created 20 Mar 2011
a list of 25 titles
created 31 Aug 2011
a list of 27 titles
created 16 Feb 2012
a list of 33 titles
created 13 Sep 2012

Related Items

Search for "Picnic" on

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: Picnic (1955)

Picnic (1955) on IMDb 7.2/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of Picnic.

User Polls

Won 2 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Comedy | Romance | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A modern-day witch likes her neighbor but despises his fiancee, so she enchants him to love her instead... only to fall in love with him for real.

Director: Richard Quine
Stars: James Stewart, Kim Novak, Jack Lemmon
Biography | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A widowed doctor of both Chinese and European descent falls in love with a married American correspondent in Hong Kong during China's Communist revolution.

Directors: Henry King, Otto Lang
Stars: William Holden, Jennifer Jones, Torin Thatcher
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Strung-out junkie deals with daily demoralizing drug addiction while crippled wife and card sharks continue to pull him down.

Director: Otto Preminger
Stars: Frank Sinatra, Kim Novak, Eleanor Parker
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

An Italian-American neighborhood in Louisiana is disturbed when truck driver Rosario Delle Rose is killed by police while smuggling. His buxom widow Serafina miscarries, then over a period ... See full summary »

Director: Daniel Mann
Stars: Anna Magnani, Burt Lancaster, Marisa Pavan
Peyton Place (1957)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A peaceful New England town hides secrets and scandals.

Director: Mark Robson
Stars: Lana Turner, Lee Philips, Lloyd Nolan
Biography | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

The life story of the famous pianist and band-leader of the 1930s and 1940s.

Director: George Sidney
Stars: Tyrone Power, Kim Novak, Victoria Shaw
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A million dollar Tycoon hires a tutor to teach his lover proper etiquette.

Director: George Cukor
Stars: Judy Holliday, William Holden, Broderick Crawford
Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Mae Doyle comes back to her hometown a cynical woman. Her brother Joe fears that his love, fish cannery worker Peggy, may wind up like Mae. Mae marries Jerry and has a baby; she is happy but restless, drawn to Jerry's friend Earl.

Director: Fritz Lang
Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Ryan, Paul Douglas
Bus Stop (1956)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A naive but stubborn cowboy falls in love with a saloon singer and tries to take her away against her will to get married and live on his ranch in Montana.

Director: Joshua Logan
Stars: Marilyn Monroe, Don Murray, Arthur O'Connell
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A suburban architect loves his wife but is bored with his marriage and with his work, so he takes up with the neglected, married beauty who lives down the street.

Director: Richard Quine
Stars: Kirk Douglas, Kim Novak, Ernie Kovacs
Elmer Gantry (1960)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A fast-talking traveling salesman with a charming, loquacious manner convinces a sincere evangelist that he can be an effective preacher for her cause.

Director: Richard Brooks
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Jean Simmons, Arthur Kennedy
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

The life of spoiled rich Robert Merrick is saved through the use of a hospital's only resuscitator, but because the medical device cannot be in two places at once, it results in the death ... See full summary »

Director: John M. Stahl
Stars: Irene Dunne, Robert Taylor, Charles Butterworth


Complete credited cast:
Betty Field ...
Nick Adams ...
Christine Schoenwalder (as Elizabeth W. Wilson)


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


It's too hot to stay home. See more »


Drama | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

16 February 1956 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Picknick  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (DVD)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Insisting on authenticity, director Joshua Logan filmed in several Kansas towns, including Hutchinson, only 75 miles from Udall, a town leveled by a tornado days after filming began. "It's gotta look like Kansas and it will if I have to kill every last one of ya!," the volatile Logan yelled at his cast. William Holden suffered a leg gash on a railroad signal light, Kim Novak was stung on the hip by a bee underneath her $500 Jean Louis gown, and Rosalind Russell was "bruised from earlobe to toenail during a wild gambol across a suspension bridge." A local 70-year-old "spinster" saw her film debut canceled when she broke both legs and several ribs during a fall down an embankment. Filming was interrupted almost daily by hailstorms and "wailing" tornado warnings. The actual picnic was on a muddy fairground at Halstead, Kansas. Cast and crew were "half-consumed" by "carnivorous" bugs. Phone calls had to be made from old-time crank telephones at Halstead's Baker Hotel. See more »


Millie sits on the couch and throws an apple core, but in the next cut she is lounging back on the couch. See more »


Millie Owens: How do you talk to boys?
Madge Owens: Why you just talk silly.
Millie Owens: Well, but, how do you think of things to say?
Madge Owens: You just say whatever comes into your head.
Millie Owens: Supposing nothing ever comes into my head?
See more »


Referenced in Morishige no Boku wa biyôshi (1957) See more »


It's a Blue World
Written by Bob Wright and Chet Forrest
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Last Chances and Lost Dreams
22 April 2004 | by (San Francisco) – See all my reviews

There are a few great writers of the overheated repressed and desperate from the theater and film world of the 1950's. At the top sit the two greatest, Tennessee Williams and William Inge. In a decade of conformity and great prosperity Inge and Williams tackled subjects ahead of their time. Of course they in some cases had to veil the subject matter but that lead to some wonderful revelations in writing and reading between the lines.

In this DVD from Colombia of Inge's Pulitzer Prize winning ‘Picnic' we have one of the best films of this genre of sexual repression, animal heat, and desperation in small town America. Most reviewers of this film might begin with the leads but I must start of with the wonderful Verna Felton as Helen Potts the sweet old lady who is caretaker of her aged mother and lives next door to the Owens family. This gifted and now forgotten character actress sets the tone of the picture as she welcomes drifter Hal Carter (William Holden) into her house for some breakfast. At the end of the film she glows in tender counterpoint to the dramatic ending. She is the only person who understands Hal, even more than Madge (Kim Novak). Her speech about having a man in the house is pure joy to watch. Her most touching scene is at the picnic when she tells Betty Field. `You don't know what it's meant to me having you and the girls next door.' It is a small but important performance that frames the entire story with warmth and understanding. Betty Field turns in a sterling performance as Flo Owens, Mother of Madge and Millie. She is disapproving of Millie's rebellious teen and smothering of her Kansas hothouse rose Madge. This deeply felt performance is a stark contrast to her lusty waitress in Inges `Bus Stop' the next year. A single Mom trying in desperation to keep Madge from making the same mistakes she did. She becomes so wrapped up in Madge's potential for marriage to the richest boy in town she completely ignores the budding greatness that is bursting to get out in her real treasure. Millie. Susan Strasberg creates in her Millie a sweet comic oddball. She is the youngest daughter who awkwardly moves through the landscape of Nickerson Kansas nearly un-noticed, reading the scandalous `Ballad of the Sad Café' - being the only one who is different and can't hide it. Her yearning to get out of the smallness of small town life is colored with the skill of a young actress with greatness her. Watch how she handles her most tender scenes with Kim Novak. Strasberg has a deep connection with Millie, an understanding of what it means to want to get out and yet want so desperately to fit in. Rosalind Russell nearly steals the show as the fourth woman in the Owens household boarder, Rosemary the schoolteacher. She is the living example of what Flo doesn't want Millie to become, a frantic, hopeless and clutching spinster. In the capable hands of Miss Russell we have a real powerhouse of a performance. She imbues Rosemary with all the uptight disapproval of a woman who knows that her time has past and there are very few options left. She is electric in her need for love. Every nuance of her emotions is sublime in her presentation. Just watch her hands alone. She is present down to her fingertips as this poor clinging woman. Floating above all of this is Madge Owens, the kind of girl who is too pretty to be real. The kind of girl who in a small town like this is not understood to have any real feelings or thoughts other than those that revolve around being beautiful and empty. Enter Kim Novak, who is just such a girl. Who could ever expect such a beauty to be anything more than just pretty? But Miss Novak, a vastly underrated actress in her day (as were most beauties of the day) paints a knowing and glowing portrait of Madge. Her explosion of sexual heat upon meeting Hal for the first time is internal and barely perceptible until she looks at him from behind the safety of the screen door the end of their first scene. It's as if that screen door is a firewall protecting her from the flames. This device is used again near the end of the film where the screen becomes something that keeps her and Hal separated from each other in a new way. At that point it is a safety net keeping them from sex by calling her home. Here she hesitates again to reveal her longing for him. She fights in the early part of the film to keep her sexual desire for Hal in check. That night she loses her fight at the picnic and we watch as she opens to reveal a woman of feelings and dreams so much deeper than the prettiness of her eyes or the luminosity of her skin. This is one of Kim Novak's early great roles and one she fills out with lush and deep emotion. The lives of all of these women of Nickerson Kansas are changed one Labor Day in 1955 when Hal Carter comes steaming into town. William Holden gives a raw and wounded portrayal to Hal, a man at the edge of his youth and on the verge of becoming a lost man. He lives as he always has, on the cache of his golden boy charm and his muscular magnetism. Holden was 35 when he made Picnic, a golden boy at the edge of his youth. He was perfect for the part. Some reviewers say he was too old to play Hal, but I disagree. Without being thirty-five in real life as well as in the story Rosemary's `Crummy Apollo' speech would not be so effective or devastating. Hal is a man 10 to 12 years out of college who never bothered to grow up, a man who never let anyone get too close for fear they might see through is bravado and discover his fears of feeling something, anything before it's too late.

Holden also brings a sexual heat to the film that is eons beyond the time it was filmed. He is presented almost like a slab of meat, something we were used to seeing in our female stars of the day, but not so blatantly in our men. He struts around in a pre-Stonewall dream of sexy hotness. Not only the girls in town notice him but a few boys too. (There are several layers to Nick Adams paperboy if one bothers to look.) When finally Holden sparks with Novak they blow the lid off of the uptight code bound studio-strangled world of Hollywood in the Fifties. The film is photographed magnificently in lush color and cinemascope by famed cinematographer James Wong Howe. The famous score by George Durning is classic not only for the famous reworking of the old standard `Moonglow' but for his virtuosity in dramatic power. This is a giant of a score from the silver age of film music. The direction by Josh Logan is perfect in every way and stands among the best of his work. The DVD has a few extras, more than most Colombia releases. However I want to point out that there is an excellent photomontage with music from the film to be found here. In watching the shots and listening to the accompanying score by Durning one can really appreciate his artistry as a composer. Finally, this is a very sexy film and should not be missed as a lesion in how really smart people got so much past the censors in an age of sexual repression and conformity.

108 of 141 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Holden and Novak miscast jimprideaux2
Paul Newman PinkIcicle
Favorite scenes in 'Picnic'? thchicago
What book was Millie reading? kerprice
Soundtrack for Picnic not available! Why? denver46
No Letterbox?! crankymisfit
Discuss Picnic (1955) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: