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Picnic (1955)

PG  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  16 February 1956 (USA)
7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 5,847 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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Title: Picnic (1955)

Picnic (1955) on IMDb 7.2/10

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

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Cast

Complete credited 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:

Electrically attracted to each other...Overwhelmingly engulfed by it...Guiltily in love! 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

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (DVD)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The original Broadway production of "The Picnic" by William Inge opened on February 19, 1953 at the Music Box Theater, ran for 477 performances and won the Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 1953. See more »

Goofs

Holden's hairstyle changes during the pondside confession scene with Novak. See more »

Quotes

Madge Owens: Oh, Ma, what is it just to be pretty?
See more »

Connections

Featured in Precious Images (1986) See more »

Soundtracks

In the Gloaming
(uncredited)
Lyrics by Meta Orred
Music by Annie Fortescue Harrison
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

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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