[box cover]


Hailed in its day as Hollywood's sexiest movie, this 1955 screen adaptation of William Inge's popular stage play takes some brazen early steps toward sexual liberation, but is shackled too tight by stagy melodrama to have any impact on the modern viewer. William Holden stars as Hal Carter, a robust college athlete gone bad, who jumps off a boxcar in a small Kansas town just in time for the community Labor Day picnic. But his attempt at a fresh start gets lost in a tornado of local libidinal frustration, as all the women struggle against their imposed roles: beauty queen (Kim Novak), bookworm (Susan Strasberg), and spinster (Rosalind Russell) alike. During the first hour, Joshua Logan's direction simmers with taboo amongst the white picket-fences of puritanical Americana. Holden bares his sweaty chest as women leer longingly, boys and girls change out of their swimsuits with only a thin wall between them, feminine hygiene is mentioned in a hushed tone — pretty racy stuff by '50s standards, and Logan's treatment maintains a remnant of that tension. But the final act is murdered by long-winded, self-aware speeches that obviously didn't translate from stage to screen. Also with Cliff Robertson, and great cinematography by James Wong Howe. Part of the "Columbia Classics" series, Picnic is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen or 1.33:1 pan-and-scan, and DD 2.0 (mono). Includes poster art, a photo montage, and trailers of several contemporary films. Keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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