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Picnic (1955)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  16 February 1956 (USA)
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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.



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



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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


A never-to-be forgotten picture - from the Pulitzer Prize winning story by William Inge! 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
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Did You Know?


Filming began in Salina, Kansas, May 16, 1955. Night-time crowds watched along the Smoky Hill River near an old mill dam as William Holden whipped a "borrowed" convertible with Kim Novak in the passenger seat to a stop along the river. Director Logan, a perfectionist, filmed the scene over and over. A number of spectatoring small boys often got in the way of the filming. A production member was designated assistant-in-charge-of-chasing-small-boys-out-of-camera-range. Other scenes filmed were Holden being chased by police around the mill and between railroad box cars. Suddenly, the loud-speaker blared: "There's a small boy underneath the box car! Get him out of there!" When the big Holden/Novak love scene was filmed, most of the crowd had gone home. "Those who stayed said it was a dilly of a romance." Filming wrapped shortly after five in the morning. By week's end, filming moved to Hutchinson. See more »


Millie's hair is wet and braided after swimming, but later in the same scene her hair is dry and braided. See more »


Howard Bevans: [to Rosemary] If a woman's going to ask me to marry her, the least she could do is say "Please."
See more »


Featured in The Princess and the Cabbie (1981) See more »


In the Gloaming
Lyrics by Meta Orred
Music by Annie Fortescue Harrison
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Moonglow and Rosalind Russell
4 February 2005 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

William Inge had his finger on the pulse of small town America. He wasn't checking the heartbeats of its inhabitants but his own. I've just said that as if I knew all about it and I don't, but I sense it. I mean, "Splendor In The Grass", "The Dark At The Top Of The Stairs", "Come Back Little Sheeba" That's all the evidence we need to know that he was a male writer with a woman's heart. "Picnic" epitomises that theory. Director Joshua Logan and writer Daniel Taradash trusted Inge's world without questioning it. Everything flows with the irrational sanity of a woman's heart. William Holden was a bit too old for the part but who cares! He is William Holden, capable to provoke passions of Mediterranean intensity at any age. He seems a bit self conscious at times and that helps the character's foibles no end. Kim Novak is breathtaking. Susan Strasberg milks her tomboy with a longing for all its worth. Betty Field, Daisy Buchanan in the original "Great Gatsby", gives a masterful performance without uttering a word that may reveal what she's actually feeling, until the end of course. That scene in which she tries to stop her daughter from going away, is as much Field's as it is Inge's. Rosalind Russell didn't get the Oscar for her superb, time bomb disguised in a school teacher's dress, performance. Her craving for sex and romance and sex and marriage and sex is as bold as anything she had ever done and Rosalind Russell new how to be bold from "His Girl Friday" to "Auntie Mame". The Moonglow sequence has become a classic moment in pictures. Deservedly so. I would suggest, if you haven't done it yet, take a trip through William Inge's territory. Familiar faces, familiar landscapes, familiar feelings, all completely new.

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Holden and Novak miscast jimprideaux2
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