In the era of Melodramas, PICNIC surfaces as an anomaly. Its not quite the rebellion against the white, small town USA that other films like REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE was. However it is a gut punch to the other great American fable of Eisenhower’s American dream. We live through drifter and hobo Hal Carter (William Holden), who once was a quarter back of note, college kid and now failed Hollywood actor. Holden was 37 years old when he came to make PICNIC in 1955 and it tells onscreen. However for the roles rather dishevelled soul feel, it helps convince us that he has aged due to hard living and limited home comforts. Hal arrives in a back water town, where old college friend Alan Benson (Cliff Robertson) lives. Robertson first role onscreen and one that is all the more captivating because of the naivety in his performance. The originator of the role was Paul Newman, a man of beauty and charisma that would have dimmed Holden’s Hal massively. Its Labour day and the town is preparing for an annual picnic and announcement of the home coming queen. This year it is a shoe in for Alan’s girl Madge Owens (Kim Novak). Novak break out role here. The fragility and tenderness of youth is mixed with a determination to impose her own desires. Novak pulls off both sides with other occasionally lapses. Madge mother Flo, played with warm callousness by Betty Field. Wants her to settle down with Alan. Hes rich, influential and will give her a grand life. Madge however wants more.
Holden had completed SUNSET BOULEVARD 5 years before he made PICNIC. Robertson was in the army, became a journalist and studied at the Actors Studio. Casting them proved that Joshua Logan understood dynamics. After all he was a respected theatre director and had even replaced John Ford, who became sick while shooting MISTER ROBERTS. It also proves that Logan was less interested in the mise en scene (as many melodrama directors of the period were) and instead wanted the mixing, fluxing and flexing of the performances, to simmer in the pressure cooker heat of small town America. The translation works in myriad ways. Mostly it crafts a sense of the isolation of being outside the expected, the pre-defined. It also points to the future of the country. How youth was taking hold of their lives and how fractured it would make small town life.
1080p has clouding on the image and the colour drains on wide shots.
The interview is short, tells us little extra than we could have found be google research and is not added value in my opinion. Crawford essay (which I sadly did not read) I expect to be amazing. I have worked with Travis and know that his work is exemplary!
BLU-RAY SPECIAL DUAL FEATURES
- 1080p presentation on Blu-ray
- DTS-HD MA 5.1 or LPCM 2.0 audio options
- Optional English SDH subtitles
- Kim Novak s Hollywood Picnic [18 mins] an archival interview with the actress conducted by screenwriter and journalist, Stephen Rebello
- Original Theatrical Trailer
- PLUS: A Collector s booklet featuring a new essay on the film by Travis Crawford