Rebecca: This is so bad it's almost good.
Enid: This is so bad it's gone past good and back to bad again.
"Picnic" is hardly the only example of Joshua Logan's limitations as a director. Logan's small body of directing work is highlighted by two of the worst screen adaptations of good Broadway musicals ever produced: "Paint Your Wagon"and "Camelot". His "South Pacific" was a happy exception. After doing some second unit directing on "Mister Roberts" he was turned loose to direct the sequel "Ensign Pulver"; a compare and contrast of the two films provides a nice illustration of Logan's talent limitations.
That said he was badly served by Daniel Taradash's adaptation of the William Inge novel. Inge's subtle nuanced story is turned into a something midway between "A Place In the Sun" and "State Fair". In the adaptation 19-year old small town beauty Marge (Kim Novak) is crowned Queen of Neewollah (Halloween spelled backward), the highlight of her town's annual Labor Day picnic.
Marge spends most of her time complaining about wanting more from a man than just being looked at because she is pretty. Enter Hal Carter (William Holden), a moronic but pretty drifter who comes through the town for one day. Marge takes some time off from complaining about being looked at to look at Hal because he is pretty. And when Hal is not busy being a moron or talking about himself he looks at Marge because she is pretty. Since this is all he does he must have made Marge rethink her need for anything more than a man who looks at her because she is pretty.
There are a few secondary story lines. Marge's sister Millie (Susan Strasberg) spends her time complaining because she's not pretty enough for men to look at her. Old-maid schoolteacher Rosemary (Rosalind Russell) spends her time complaining because she is no longer pretty enough for men to look at her. Alan (Cliff Robertson), one of the men who has been looking at Marge, spends his time complaining that Marge prefers being looked at by Hal. Howard (Arthur O'Connell) complains that he can't do anything more than look at Marge.
This is pretty much the whole story although there is also a documentary feature edited into the middle of the film that features tons of stuff you would find at a small town picnic; like pie- eating contests, sack races, concerts, jam and jelly judging, crying babies-laughing babies- frowning babies, and surreptitious drinking.
Ironically while "Picnic" is Holden's all-time worst acting performance, his propensity to take off all or part of his shirt is the main reason for the film's popularity with certain viewers who like that sort of thing. Holden could believably play anti-heros (see "Stalag 17" and "Sunset Blvd") but not dumb ones and Hal's most prominent character trait is stupidity.
Novak (as in all her straight dramatic roles) looks scared about having a camera pointed in her direction-she eventually learned to do comedy pretty well but in "Picnic" comedy is in short supply. Novak also does not benefit from having a lot of scenes with Strasberg, who was not just a real actress but was such a physical opposite that there is not even a hint of a sisterly dynamic.
Robertson is actually very good, managing to make most of his terribly lame dialogue work. And the TCM version is a restored wide-screen print which nicely showcases the film's strengths; editing and production design.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
Picnic (1955) 720p YIFY Movie
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.
IMDB: 7.20 Likes
The Synopsis for Picnic (1955) 720p
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.
The Director and Players for Picnic (1955) 720p
The Reviews for Picnic (1955) 720p
A Nice Package With Disappointing ContentsReviewed byaimless-46Vote: 4/10
Rebecca: This is so bad it's almost good.
Clunky and awkward, with inane dialogue, it's a movie to show how attitudes have changed.