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Encyclopedia > Picnic (film)
DVD cover for the 1955 film, showing stars William Holden and Kim Novak
DVD cover for the 1955 film, showing stars William Holden and Kim Novak

Picnic is a 1955 Cinemascope color film which tells the story of an ex-college football star turned drifter who arrives in a small Kansas town on Labor Day and is drawn to a girl who's already spoken for. The plot covers a twenty-four hour period. DVD cover for film Picnic showing stars William Holden and Kim Novak This is a DVD cover. ... DVD cover for film Picnic showing stars William Holden and Kim Novak This is a DVD cover. ... 1955 (MCMLV) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


Based on a Pulitzer Prize winning play

Considered daring at the time, it stars William Holden, Kim Novak, Susan Strasberg, Cliff Robertson, Arthur O'Connell, Nick Adams, Betty Field and Rosalind Russell and is sometimes cited as a richly detailed snapshot of midwestern American culture during the 1950s. William Holden William Holden (April 17, 1918 – November 12, 1981, body found November 16, 1981) was an Oscar winning American film actor. ... Kim Novak Kim Novak (born February 13, 1933) is an American actress. ... Susan Strasberg Susan Strasberg (May 22, 1938 - January 21, 1999) was a Jewish-American actress. ... Cliff Robertson Clifford Parker Robertson III (born September 9, 1925) is an American actor notable for his performances in PT 109 (as the young John F. Kennedy), The Best Man, Charly (for which he won the 1968 Academy Award for Best Actor), Picnic, Obsession, Autumn Leaves and Star 80. ... Arthur OConnell ( March 29, 1908 – May 18, 1981) was an American actor. ... Actor Nick Adams in a publicity photo for his US television series The Rebel, about 1960. ... Betty Field (February 8, 1913 _ September 13, American actress. ... Rosalind Russell (June 4, 1907 - November 28, 1976) was an American film and stage actress. ...

The movie was adapted from William Inge's Pulitzer Prize winning play by Daniel Taradash, directed by Joshua Logan, was widely popular and made Kim Novak a star. Rosalind Russell received critical praise for her role as a middle-aged, frustrated schoolteacher. Audiences reacted to it as a realistic, "slice of life" story. The theme song from the movie was a hit, a mix of the theme song "Picnic" gradually blending in with the old standard "Moonglow" (which was later covered by Steve Allen) and the soundtrack 33rpm Album sold very well, an unusual feat for a "non-musical,story driven" film released in the 1950s. William Inge, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1954 William Motter Inge (May 3, 1913-June 10, 1973) was an American author and playwright, whose works feature solitary protagonists encumbered with strained sexual relations. ... Listen to this article (help) Listen to this article · (info) This audio file was created from the revision dated 2005-04-13, and does not reflect subsequent edits to the article. ... Joshua Logan (1908-1988), a director and writer, was best known for Broadway and Hollywood shows such as Mister Roberts, Picnic, and South Pacific. ... Steve Allen on the cover of Steve Allen on the Bible, Religion, and Morality Stephen Valentine Patrick William Allen (December 26, 1921 – October 30, 2000) was a musician, comedian and writer, who was instrumental in innovating the concept of the television talk show. ...

Setting and sense of the story

Picnic's 24 hour cycle in the life of a single mother's two girl family is set in a smallish Kansas town. Starting in the morning of Labor Day, Hal, the drifter, meets a kindly old lady resident, a Mrs. Potts, not far from the railroad tracks, from which he had arrived by freight train from "elswhere". An extremely likable looser, Hal had been a college football star, perhaps 6 years before, and now is looking up his old room mate, Alan, who's father owns the many huge grain elevators that tower over the town's railroad right-of-way. That railroad will be his way to leave the vicinity 24 hours later. This, after meeting his old friend, meeting his friend's "girl", Madge, going to a big community picnic with Madge's younger sister, falling in love with Madge, getting his friend very angry, & and after, presumedly, having spent the night in sensual bliss, asking her to join him for a life together... "Nothing big-time" in Hal's honest words. Her much wiser young sister, advises, quote: "For once in your life, Madge, do something smart!".This very "up close & personal" film ends with a James Wong Howe cinematographer's wide, wide 'copter shot of the distant train heading into the flat farmlands with a bus heading the same way. The great score of this iconic film rises triumphantly. James Wong Howe (黃宗霑; pinyin: Huáng Zōngzhān) (August 28, 1899 - July 12, 1976) is considered one of the greatest cinematographers in movie history. ...

Filmed in Kansas

Picnic was filmed on location in five central Kansas towns: State nickname: The Sunflower State Official languages None Capital Topeka Largest city Wichita Governor Kathleen Sebelius (D) Senators Sam Brownback (R) Pat Roberts (R) Area  - Total  - % water Ranked 15th 82,277 mi²; 213,096 km² 0. ...

  • Halstead's Riverside Park is where all the Labor Day picnic scences (some of which are semi-documentary) were filmed. The park and many landmarks still existed at the time of the movie's fiftieth anniversary.
  • Nickerson is the location of the two adjacent houses where Madge (Kim Novak) and her family live (with "old Mrs Potts" next door), also where Hal (William Holden) "jumps a freight" to go to Tulsa and where Madge boards a bus in the last scene.
  • Salina, where Hal jumps off a train in the opening scene and meets Allen (Cliff Robertson) at Allen's father's large house, also where Madge kisses Hal by the Salina River and where he escapes from the police by running under a waterfall.
  • Sterling, where the pre-picnic swim in the lake was filmed.

Halstead is a city located in Harvey County, Kansas. ... Labour Day (or Labor Day) is an annual holiday that resulted from efforts of the labour union movement, to celebrate the economic and social achievements of workers. ... Hutchinson is the largest city and county seat of Reno County, Kansas. ... Nickerson is a city in Reno County, Kansas. ... Salina is a city and the county seat of Saline County, KansasGR6. ... Sterling is a city located in Rice County, Kansas. ...

Academy Awards

Picnic won Academy Awards for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color and Best Film Editing and was nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (O'Connell, who reprised his stage role), Best Director, Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture (George Duning) and Best Picture. Although he never won an Oscar for any of his movie performances, the comedian Bob Hope received two honorary Oscars for his contributions to cinema. ... The Academy Awards are the oldest awards ceremony for achievements in motion pictures. ... The Academy Award for Film Editing was first given for films issued in 1934. ... The Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor is one of the awards given to people working in the motion picture industry by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; nominations are made by Academy members who are actors and actresses. ... The Academy Award for Directing is one of the awards given to people working in the motion picture industry by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; the awards are voted on by other people within the industry. ... From Rule Sixteen of the Special Rules for The Music Awards Original Score: An original score is a substantial body of music in the form of dramatic underscoring written specifically for the film by the submitting composer. ... The Academy Award for Best Picture is one of the awards given to people working in the motion picture industry by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; the awards are voted on by other people within the industry. ...


The film was later ignored or even panned in retrospective reviews written during the 1970s and 80s but by the end of the 20th century, spurred by releases in its original aspect ratio on Laserdisc and DVD, later-day critics were praising Picnic's resonant portrayal of small-town life in the US during the Eisenhower era. With its fine soundtrack and strong performances by all the supporting cast, notably those of a young Susan Strasberg, who is said to carry the many scenes she appears in, and Arthur O'Connell, who's small town merchant, and "pressured" middle-age bridegroom role, defined "the aging bachelor" for all time. The aspect ratio of a two-dimensional shape is the ratio of its longest dimension to its shortest dimension. ... Pioneers LaserDisc Logo The laserdisc (LD) was the first commercial optical disc storage medium, and was used primarily for the presentation of movies. ... DVD-R writing/reading side, based on Photo DVD.jpg. ... Dwight David Ike Eisenhower (October 14, 1890–March 28, 1969), American soldier and politician, was the 34th President of the United States (1953–1961) and supreme commander of the Allied forces in Europe during World War II, with the rank of General of the Army. ... Susan Strasberg Susan Strasberg (May 22, 1938 - January 21, 1999) was a Jewish-American actress. ... Arthur OConnell ( March 29, 1908 – May 18, 1981) was an American actor. ...

However, the performances of both Holden and Novak are not considered among the best of their careers, though in fairness, the problem was more about age, in Holden's case than his character's personality. Holden was 37 when filming began. Wary about attempting to play someone in his mid-to late twenties, wooing a girl half his actual age, he had to be convinced to take the role. Audiences didn't seem to mind his older look at the time, which appeared to be about 10 years older than the girl. In actuality he was " almost twice as old ". Fifty years later, public attitudes have changed regarding 37 year olds courting 19 year olds. To 21st century eyes, Holden is doing something almost socially offensive. Modern audiences won't buy his strained attempt to seem to be the 28 year old that the role calls for. He looks at least 33 in the film to the modern viewer. while Novak is often noted as being "too passive", which a "less than brilliant" 19 year old might reasonably express. Mid 20th century audiences would willingly suspend dis-belief, allowing Hal to be the required 28 years of age... much of Picnic's lasting appeal, allowing for the noted shift in perception, seems now to derive from its uniformly strong supporting characters and subplots. The authentic location settings in central Kansas, and the documentary sense of real life in 1955 America. The frame house neighborhoods, the cars, & the picnic crowds, come off as a truly wonderful time capsule.


  • In 1957, a marketing specialist announced that for six weeks he had included subliminal messages reading "Eat Popcorn, drink Coca-Cola" in public screenings of the movie and claimed that sales of his products had increased from 18 to 57%. He later admitted there had never been any such messages and his announcement was a marketing trick.
  • William Holden was reportedly so nervous about his dancing for the "Moonglow" scene that Logan took him to Kansas roadhouses to practice steps in front of jukeboxes with choreographer Miriam Nelson.
  • Millie, the tomboyish girl who memorizes Shakespeare sonnets and rebels against her older sister by getting drunk, was an early role for Susan Strasberg, the daughter of well-known "method" drama teacher Lee Strasberg.
  • Elizabeth Wilson has a bit part as one of the local, smirking schoolteachers. Twelve years later she played a major supporting role in Mike Nichols' The Graduate as Benjamin Braddock's attractive, slightly high-strung mom.
  • Kim Novak had previously announced she preferred going braless and was reported to have spent her time off during production of the film away from other cast members... in church.
  • The wonderful Mrs. Potts character, who so openly liked and saw the good in Hal at first sight, was almost bodily transfered to the the core of Disney's "Mrs. Potts", played by Angela Landsbury in Beauty and the Beast.

1957 (MCMLVII) was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... A subliminal message is a signal or message designed to pass below the normal limits of perception. ... Popcorn popped Popcorn or popping corn is a type of maize which puffs up when it is heated in oil or by dry heat. ... The wave shape (known as the dynamic ribbon device) present on all Coca-Cola cans throughout the world derives from the contour of the original Coca-Cola bottles. ... For the computer storage device see Optical Jukebox A replica Wurlitzer Jukebox A jukebox is a partially automated music-playing device, usually a coin-operated machine, that can play specially selected songs from self-contained media. ... Actor Nick Adams in a publicity photo for his US television series The Rebel, about 1960. ... Natalie Wood Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko (July 20, 1938 – November 29, 1981), better known as Natalie Wood, was an American film actress. ... James Byron Dean (February 8, 1931 – September 30, 1955) was a charismatic American film actor who epitomized youthful angst. ... Elvis Aron Presley (January 8, 1935 – August 16, 1977), also known as The King of Rock n Roll or The King, was an American singer, song producer and actor. ... William Shakespeare—born April 1564; baptised April 26, 1564; died April 23, 1616 (O.S.), May 3, 1616 (N.S.)—has a reputation as the greatest of all writers in English. ... Susan Strasberg Susan Strasberg (May 22, 1938 - January 21, 1999) was a Jewish-American actress. ... Lee Strasberg. ... Mike Nichols (born Michael Igor Peschkowsky) is an Academy Award winning movie director of films such as The Graduate and Whos Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. He was born on November 6, 1931 in Berlin, to a Jewish Russian family. ... The Graduate is a novel by Charles Webb, made into a 1967 film of the same name directed by Mike Nichols from a screenplay by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry. ... Bra has several meanings: Short for brassiere, an undergarment. ... A church building (or simply church) is a building used in Christian worship. ... Beauty and the Beast is a traditional folktale (type 425C -- search for a lost husband -- in the Aarne-Thompson classification). ...


Picnic was remade for television in 1986, starring Gregory Harrison, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Learned, Rue McClanahan and Dick Van Patten. It was directed by Marshall W. Mason. It was again remade for television in 2000, starring Bonnie Bedelia, Josh Brolin, Gretchen Mol, Jay O. Sanders and Mary Steenburgen. The screenplay was adapted by Shelley Evans, and the movie was directed by Ivan Passer. In film, a remake is a newer version of a previously released film or a newer version of the source (play, novel, story, etc. ... 1986 (MCMLXXXVI) is a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... As John Phillips in For Ladies Only Gregory Harrison Television actor, Gregory Harrison was born on May 31, 1950 in Avalon, Catalina Island, California. ... Jennifer Jason Leigh (born February 5, 1962) is an American actress. ... Michael Learned (born on April 9, 1938 in Washington, D.C., but lived on a farm with her 5 sisters for the first 10 years of her life) is an American actress, best known for her role as Olivia Walton on The Waltons, which she played from 1972 to 1979. ... McClanahan as Blanche on The Golden Girls Rue McClanahan (born Eddi Rue McClanahan on February 21, 1934 in Healdton, Oklahoma) is an American actress, best known for her roles acting alongside Bea Arthur on the television sitcoms Maude and The Golden Girls. ... Dick Van Patten (born December 9, 1928 in New York City) is an American actor. ... In film, a remake is a newer version of a previously released film or a newer version of the source (play, novel, story, etc. ... This article is about the year 2000. ... Bonnie Bedelia Culkin (born March 25, 1948 in New York, New York, USA) is an American actress. ... Josh Brolin (far right) with the Goonies Cast 2004 Reunion Josh Brolin (born February 12, 1968) is an American actor. ... Gretchen Mol (born November 8, 1972 in Deep River, Connecticut, USA) is an American actress. ... Mary Steenburgen today. ... Ivan Passer, (b. ...

External links

Picnic is also a 1993 Japanese movie. The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) is an online database of information about actors, movies, television shows, television stars and video games. ... 1993 (MCMXCIII) is a common year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar and marked the Beginning of the International Decade to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination (1993-2003). ...

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