Friday, July 12, 2019

Film Friday: Picnic

Photos and plot summary via IMDb

"Emotions are ignited amongst the complacent townsfolk when a handsome drifter arrives in a small Kansas community on the morning of the Labor Day picnic."

Picnic
Color/1956
directed by Joshua Logan
113 minutes

My sister and I got together for more William Holden movies recently (and more pie!) and watched one of our favorites, Picnic. Based on the play by William Inge, Picnic follows a group of people whose lives are shaken up by the arrival of drifter Hal, played with charismatic appeal by William Holden. Though he's really too old for the part, we couldn't fault his performance, which stretches him taut between vulnerability and bravado, maturity and boyhood. This time around, we noticed the theme of envy, and how each character wants something another has, and will go to great lengths to get it, or keep what they think is theirs. The movie packs humor, heart-wrenching moments, bittersweet love, and small town quirks into what seems only a few days in the story world.

Verna Felton, Susan Stasberg, and Betty Field


Aside from Holden, the entire cast is wonderful, especially Kim Novak as "pretty one" Madge; Betty Field as her and Millie's mother, Flo; Verna Felton as neighbor Mrs. Potts (who, like that character name, makes appearances in several Disney movies, most notably for me as the voice of the fairy godmother in Cinderella); Cliff Robertson as Alan (Hal's college friend, and Madge's boyfriend); Arthur O'Connell as Howard (I love him in Bus Stop--also directed by Logan--as well); and Susan Strasberg as "smart one" Millie. (And Rosalind Russell as boarder and school teacher Rosemary, though she has the most painful-to-watch scenes). Millie is the standout character for me, this time around, who is feisty, sad, and ultimately, wise. I love the scene in the dressing house after they go swimming, mostly for Millie's giving the men a talking to.

Kim Novak, Susan Strasberg, William Holden, and Cliff Robertson

The production is also great, with costumes by Jean Louis and cinematography by James Wong Howe, two accomplished artists and craftspeople. It's a fun movie to watch as summer comes to an end and ponder on life, love, and what might happen to the characters after the movie ends. Do you ever make up stories for characters of movies you've seen?



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