Picnic [WS/P&S] [DVD] [1955]

This Columbia DVD release of Picnic proves that William Holden and Kim Novak's provocative dance to "Moonglow" still sizzles more than anything that Zalman King has ever come up with. Star William Holden was reportedly so embarrassed about doing the movie's justly famous dance sequence that he had to get rip-roaring drunk just to get up the courage to film it. Of course, Holden and Novak's dance of seduction is only one great sequence in one of the key movies of the 1950s. While there aren't really any meaningful DVD extras here (unless you count trailers, subtitles, vintage advertising), this release restores the look of the original Cinemascope aspect ratio in a pristine anamorphic widescreen transfer and adds a superb Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track. The DVD greatly benefits from a mid-'90s film restoration project that saw Picnic back on the big screen in art houses across the country. Cinematographer James Wong Howe is rightly considered one of the greatest Hollywood cameramen and this DVD shows off his beautiful Technicolor work on Picnic. Interviews with surviving cast members like Kim Novak and Cliff Robertson about the making of the film would have been nice, but lack of supplemental features aside, this is still a fine DVD presentation.
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Special Features

  • Audio: 2-channel [Dolby Surround], Spanish, Portuguese
  • Bonus trailers
  • Digitally remastered audio & anamorphic video
  • Interactive menus
  • Photo montage
  • Production notes
  • Scene selections
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Thai
  • Talent files
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Vintage advertising


One of the biggest box-office attractions of the 1950s, Picnic was adapted by Daniel Taradash from the Pulitzer Prize-winning William Inge play. William Holden plays Hal Carter, a handsome drifter who ambles into a small Kansas town during the Labor Day celebration to look up old college chum Alan (Cliff Robertson, in his film debut). Hoping to hit up Alan for a job--or a handout--Hal ends up stealing his buddy's fiancee Madge Owens (Kim Novak). Hal also has a catnip effect on spinster schoolteacher Rosemary Sydney (Rosalind Russell), so much so that Rosemary makes a fool of herself in front of the whole town, nearly driving away her longtime beau Howard Bevans (Arthur O'Connell). Persuaded by his friends and family that Hal is no damn good, Madge is prepared to break off her relationship. As anyone who remembers the film's famous overhead closing shot knows, however, Madge is ultimately ruled by her heart and not her head. For a film set in Kansas, there's an awful lot of New York talent in the supporting cast (Susan Strasberg and Phyllis Newman come immediately to mind); still, the Midwestern ambience comes through loud and clear, especially during the perceptively detailed Labor Day picnic sequence. Broadening the film's appeal is its George Duning-Steve Allen title song, a variation of the old standard "Moonglow". Two sidebars: The original Broadway production of Picnic starred Ralph Meeker and Paul Newman; for the film version of Picnic, William Holden was obliged to shave his chest, lest his hairy torso cause the female moviegoers to conjure up impure thoughts. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • William Holden
    William Holden - Hal Carter
  • Rosalind Russell
    Rosalind Russell - Rosemary Sydney
  • Kim Novak
    Kim Novak - Madge Owens
  • Betty Field
    Betty Field - Flo Owens
  • Susan Strasberg
    Susan Strasberg - Millie Owens

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