The Flickers: Picnic

PICNIC (1956)

Starring William Holden, Kim Novak, Cliff Robertson, Betty Field, Arthur O’Connell and Nick Adams

Back in the day, when I lived on my own, I was a regular at the local video store. One of the many movies I rented on VHS was Picnic and it hit me. Hard. I was young and single and imagined myself in William Holden’s boots.


Holden plays a blowhard who shows up in a small town in Kansas on Labour Day. He’s a shiftless drifter but he has a friend in town from back in college days, a rich kid played by Cliff Robertson. When he gets an eyeful of Cliff’s girl, played by Kim Novak, things gets complicated.


Holden is great but at 37 he was way too old for this character. Cliff does well playing a pretty good guy. I like Kim Novak. She’s gorgeous but let’s face it, pretty wooden. Betty Field was real dishy in ’45 playing Daisy in The Great Gatsby (1949) and this role was part of her “second career” playing “the mother”. Arthur O’Connell plays a right Joe in this film and he also shows up in some other pretty good movies including two Presley pictures. Verna Felton is a delight as the neighbour lady who loves life. Picnic was shot on location in lovely small town Kansas. Based on a play by William Inge, a playwright who’s characters, much like Tennessee Williams’, are usually clenched up because of some sexual hang-up or due to living behind a facade they cannot maintain.



There is some great acting in this film – such great acting that it’s maddening. Holden plays the loud mouth excellently, so much so that he’s frustrating to watch sometimes. Ditto for Rosalind Russell. It’s because of this film that I don’t enjoy her. But I guess I don’t like her because she plays her loathsome character so well. On a recent viewing, I understood her character in a bit of a different light and came off hating her. A bit.


Great film with a fantastic closing shot. But watch out – looks like it’s only available in a DVD with a poor print and in terrible FULL SCREEN. Why would they even make a DVD like this?! Or check out Twilight Time‘s Blu-ray – but it’ll cost you.

Buyer Beware!

Perhaps the best thing about Picnic is a piece of music from the score. Morris Stoloff’s “Moonglow/Theme from Picnic” is just gorgeous. Check This Out!


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