It. tit..: Picnic; Sog.: dalla commedia omonima di William Inge; Scen.: Daniel Taradash; F.: James Wong Howe; Mo.: Charles Nelson, William A. Lyon; Scgf.: William Flannery, Jo Mielziner, Robert Priestley; Mu.: George Duning, Will Hudson, Edgar De Lange, Irving Mills; Int.: William Holden (Hal Carter), Kim Novak (Marjorie ‘Madge’ Owens), Betty Field (Flo Owens), Susan Strasberg (Millie Owens), Rosalind Russell (Rosemary Sidney), Cliff Robertson (Alan Benson), Arthur O’Connell (Howard Bevans), Verna Felton (Helen Potts), Reta Shaw (Irma Kronkite), Nick Adams (Bomber), Raymond Bailey (Signor Benson), Elizabeth Wilson (Christine Schoenwalder); Prod.: Columbia Pictures Corporation; Pri. pro.: novembre 1955. 35mm. D.: 113’ Col.
One morning an unkempt, tattered but tanned William Holden turns up in a small Kansas town. He agrees to burn the garbage at an elderly lady’s home in exchange for a meal and, as an extra, she washes his shirt. In the meantime, while stripped to the waist, he meets a beautiful girl, Kim Novak, and her younger sister, Susan Strasberg. Now that he has a clean shirt, Holden can at last call on Cliff Robertson – an old schoolmate, with good prospects and engaged to Kim Novak. The customary grand picnic is planned for the next day (…). Holden is particularly brilliant, he dances like a god, he amuses everyone, and he has to fend off the advances of a school teacher – Rosalind Russell – who has drunk too much whisky. Since she has already started undressing, she insults him. Disgusted, he goes away, only to be caught by Kim Novak, and he ends up spending the night in her arms. (…) I cannot say whether the Pulitzer Prize comedy Picnic by William Inge – who also wrote Come Back Little Sheba and Bus Stop – is a piece of genius. In any case, the movie version offered by Daniel Taradash (screenplay and dialogues) and the film-maker Joshua Logan – who previously directed the play on Broadway – is not far off being one. It is through this slice of life that Logan sketches out a portrait of America for us. He does so without malice and without great sentimentalism, but with a slightly cruel clarity that is related to Jean Renoir’s gaze on the world. But if Eléna et les hommes needs to be watched more than once in order to discover all its beauty, there is nothing in Picnic that cannot be perceived during the first viewing. This is the sole reason that makes Picnic more seductive than the Renoir film. Proceeding with this comparison, the two films share the fact that they are primarily stories narrated through images and that they offer us a vision of love that is more real than what we are used to seeing on the screen: physical and, in the end, disenchanted. (…) In Josh Logan we can welcome a great new director, described by Jacques Rivette as ‘Elia Kazan crossed with Robert Aldrich’, which is precisely right because Picnic brings to mind East of Eden with its delicate treatment and Vera Cruz with its blazing energy.
François Truffaut, Les Films de ma vie, Flammarion, Paris 1975
Restored in the original format 1:2.55