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Rick’s Actual/Reel Life: ‘Picnic’ 1955


William Holden & Kim Novak because the drifter & the sweetness queen in 1955’s “Picnic.”

 

Picnic
portrays the lives of quiet—or raucous, within the case of Roz Russell—desperation.
Set in a small Kansas city in the course of the Nineteen Fifties, the story revolves across the
impact {that a} charismatic younger drifter has on the repressed townspeople one
scorching Labor Day.

Picnic
is the Pulitzer Prize profitable play by William Inge, on the top of his acclaim.
The home drama was an enormous
Broadway hit that was dropped at the display screen by its stage director, Joshua
Logan. Noteworthy concerning the stage model have been some up-and-coming actors: Ralph
Meeker as drifter Hal Carter; Paul Newman in his Broadway debut as wealthy child
Alan; Janice Rule as magnificence queen Madge; and Kim Stanley at age 28, as child
sister Millie! Eileen Heckart portrayed Rosemary, the spinster trainer who
spins uncontrolled on Labor Day night.

William Holden’s “boyishness” act as Hal is as awkward as Kim Novak’s performing. 


I’m
certain Columbia Studios paid William Inge a fairly penny to carry his play to the
large display screen. Columbia head honcho Harry Cohn was giving Kim Novak an enormous construct
up and determined this property could be good to launch her as a number one girl.
Due to this fact, a “title” main man was wanted. As an alternative of going off the studio lot
for an appropriate male star to play the horny younger school dropout/drifter—say
Brando?—Cohn selected studio homeboy William Holden to play Hal. And Harry didn’t
need to pay a fairly penny for Invoice, as a result of it was the final movie on Holden’s
previous studio contract. It’s a disgrace Marlon Brando did Guys and Dolls as a substitute of Picnic.
Brando was six years youthful than Holden, way more boyishly charismatic.

William Holden was a nice actor, however too careworn & not carefree as Hal in “Picnic.

Whereas
Holden was an particularly delicate male actor for the period, he was a decade too previous
for the half. What made this particularly noticeable was that whereas Invoice’s bod
was nonetheless in nice type, Holden’s face was already exhibiting indicators of alcoholic
dissipation at simply 37. When Holden acts like an over-aged teenager, it’s
particularly awkward as he tries to impress Madge, performed by 22-year-old Novak.

William Holden’s type was nice, however his close-ups confirmed arduous residing in “Picnic.”

Nonetheless,
Invoice had charisma, authority, and “rugged” intercourse attraction, so Holden because the younger
stud wasn’t a complete dud. Hal Carter jogs my memory of Tennessee William’s later character,
Likelihood Wayne, in Candy Chicken of Youth.
They’re golden boys who come to a small city and stir issues up, and each need
to make off with the beautiful ingénue. Each are Peter Pans, star athletes with
aspirations of film stardom, however neither have by no means amounted to something. Sarcastically,
Paul Newman was the identical age as Holden in Picnic
when he performed Likelihood in ’62. Whereas Newman favored his beers, it didn’t present,
like the results of no matter Holden hoisted.

Rosalind Russell lets rip on William Holden’s shirt, as passions get heated in “Picnic.”


An
amused eye roll comes when Columbia reduce the road from Picnic’s climactic dance scene: “I really feel identical to Rita Hayworth!” I
guess they have been extra involved with shining a highlight on Columbia’s new love goddess, Kim Novak!

Cliff Robertson because the wealthy beau that Kim Novak’s Madge “ought to” need, in “Picnic.”

Kim
as Madge is a contradiction, as usually is the case with Novak’s performing. Kim’s
shyness and uncertainty works for the character, and he or she was usually solid thusly.
I’m certain enjoying a woman who’s valued primarily for her appears to be like hit dwelling for
insecure Kim, who was handled like an object by Harry Cohn. But, Novak’s studio-trained
mannerisms and dazed demeanor jogs my memory of one other actress who usually felt
uncomfortable in entrance of the digicam, Jennifer Jones, thrust into the highlight
by her Svengali, David O. Selznick.
Kim’s Madge is an uneven efficiency, but her vulnerability goes a great distance,
and he or she and Holden have a powerful chemistry. Kudos to whoever determined that Novak
briefly drop her “lavender blonde” look. Together with her easy make-up and a protracted
reddish brown wig, Kim appears to be like fairly but lifelike because the native magnificence queen.

Columbia Studios’ blonde bombshell Kim Novak was toned down
for the small city drama “Picnic.”

Rosalind
Russell as Rosemary, the middle-aged trainer who boards on the Owens’ dwelling, is
one other blended blessing from the leads. Eileen Heckart was stated to be a wow in
the function on Broadway, although she was identified to play large, too. Whereas Roz bravely
goes glamour-free and performs her age, in contrast to most of her contemporaries, Russell
performs to the rafters far too usually. It’s a difficult function, as a result of Rosemary is an excessive character, which may
be problematic when performed by an actress who is commonly the identical. As usually the
case with a “large” efficiency, Roz fares greatest within the smaller moments, when her
Rosemary shares the concern of rising previous alone. Russell is clearly a talented
actress and a sensible one, however like the opposite lead actors on this movie, she would
have benefited from a extra skilled movie director, and never a theater director
whose movie work confirmed a heavy hand.

Rosalind Russell emotes as Rosemary, the determined faculty trainer in “Picnic.”


Arthur
O’Connell is interesting and effortlessly plausible as Howard, the shop proprietor
throughout the river, who sees Rosemary, however from a protected distance. Betty Area
doesn’t play brassy for a change, as Madge and Millie’s mom. Area’s Flo has
been abandoned by her husband to boost the 2 women the perfect she will. Betty is
completely pure as a lady whose desires at the moment are for her daughters. Solely in a
‘50s film would Susan Strasberg be solid because the “plain” sister. Susan’s
naturalistic because the brainy child sister (with eyeglasses!). Strasberg’s as
emotional as Novak is distant as the gorgeous sister, Millie’s outburst—“Madge is
the gorgeous one!”—was the “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” of the ‘50s!

Pretty Susan Strasberg is Millie, Kim Novak’s “bookworm” child sister in “Picnic.”

Cliff
Robertson does what he can with the function Alan, the wealthy, weak child.

Within the smaller
supporting roles, Nick Adams is cockily amusing as Bomber, the brash
neighborhood teen; Verna Felton is most adorable because the neighbor girl who’s
the primary to befriend Hal; and Reta Shaw is salty as a fellow trainer. The complete
supporting solid is powerful, nevertheless it’s the three leads which can be a blended bag.

The excellent supporting solid of “Picnic” carry actuality to this slice of life drama.


Others
have famous that Inge, simply as common as Tennessee Williams within the ‘50s, with a
string of hits, isn’t as properly remembered. Effectively, Williams went by way of a interval
the place he was thought of passé, too. I’ve learn that it’s maybe that Inge’s
dialogue wasn’t as poetic and quotable. Nonetheless, William Inge did write performs
about actual folks and their issues, usually small city folks. Come Again, Little Sheba, Bus Cease, Picnic, The Darkish on the High
of the Stairs
have been enormous hits. On movie, he wrote screenplays for Splendor within the Grass and All Fall Down. Not too shabby!

Playwright William Inge & Director Joshua Logan absolutely liked this opening title!


Director
Joshua Logan had an unbelievable string of musical, comedy, and dramatic
successes on Broadway. That’s most likely why Logan was requested to recreate a few of
these stage hits on movie, in addition to different blockbuster productions. That stated, most
movies I’ve seen directed by Joshua Logan all appear a bit off-kilter: Picnic, Sayonara, South Pacific, Camelot, and Paint Your Wagon. The person had mad stage credentials, however I don’t
assume Logan was in movie making frequently to study its intricacies. In Picnic, that’s obvious with the uneven lead
performances and the very intrusive music rating.

Madge will get out of Dodge on the finale of 1955’s “Picnic.”


Picnic
is a kind of motion pictures that are often labeled dated. Certainly a product of
its time, the drama is a snapshot of the repressed ‘50s. Nevertheless, how a lot has
actually modified in small cities since then? We’re clearly much less repressed and
are capable of talk by way of the web and social media. Nonetheless, what number of
folks really feel caught and stifled in small cities, with desires that don’t come true?
As somebody who lives in rural Higher MI, I see it on a regular basis. In that sense, Picnic is timeless.

My have a look at Kim Novak, teamed with Sinatra, in The Man with the Golden Arm: https://ricksrealreel.blogspot.com/2018/07/the-man-with-golden-arm-1955.html

And right here’s my tackle Rosalind Russell, in her
signature function as Auntie Mame:
https://ricksrealreel.blogspot.com/2020/12/rozs-signature-role-auntie-mame-1958.html

FYI: I put all of the film overflow on my public FB  film
web page. 

Test it out & be part of!  https://www.fb.com/teams/178488909366865/

The poster of “Picnic” guarantees greater than it delivers–typical of the period!



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