|An iconic image from Picnic by James Wong Howe|
Hal Carter (William Holden) is a drifter and failed, wannabee actor who winds up in Kansas where he looks up an old buddy named Alan (Cliff Robertson), hoping to find work. Alan's father gives Hal a job, but things are complicated at the Labor Day picnic when Hal and Alan's fiancee, Madge (Kim Novak), find themselves attracted to one another. Alan is furious, but Madge's mother (Betty Field) is horrified at the fate in store for her daughter if she runs off with Hal. Meanwhile Madge's younger sister, Millie (Susan Strasberg), is suffering growing pains, and their border, spinster schoolteacher Rosemary (Rosalind Russell), is having a crisis of her own.
|William Holden and Kim Novak|
|Rosalind Russell and William Holden|
|Cliff Robertson and William Holden|
The play starred Ralph Meeker as Hal, Paul Newman as Alan, Janice Rule as Madge, Eileen Heckart as Rosemary, and Arthur O'Connell as Howard. Aron Copeland's beautiful opera The Tender Land, which debuted around the same time as the stage version of Picnic, also dealt with a young woman who falls in love overnight with a drifter and wants to run away with him.
Verdict: Despite some problems, this is an excellent picture. ***1/2.