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Release Date(s)1956 (January 17, 2012)
Studio(s)Columbia Pictures (Twilight Time)
In 1956, Columbia brought William Inge's play "Picnic" to the screen after a successful Broadway run where the play starred Ralph Meeker and Janice Rule. Neither repeated their work on film.
The Picnic story is that of young, rootless, charming drifter Hal Carter (William Holden, instead of Meeker) who hitches a train ride into a small Kansas town seeking college friend Alan Benson (Cliff Robertson). He has an immediate impact on the town's women including Madge (Kim Novak, instead of Rule) who proves to be the girlfriend of his college buddy; Millie (Susan Strasberg) who is Madge's younger college-bound sister; Madge and Millie's mother Flo (Betty Field); and garrulous but repressed schoolteacher Rosemary (Rosalind Russell). Emotions are brought to a head at a town picnic when Rosemary becomes drunk and ends up tearing Hal's shirt while on the dance floor. The 115-minute film never flags and delivers a true slice of Americana of an era with conventions and attitudes now long past. Despite the passage of 55 years, it retains a vitality that never ceases to captivate no matter how many times one has seen it. The film's ending resolves the story's various threads in ways that are thoughtful and heartening. It goes almost without saying that that superb actor, William Holden, is marvelous in the lead role, skillfully blending forcefulness and sympathy. It is, however, a supporting cast - one that amazes in its range of high-profile screen performers like Robertson, Field, Russell, and Novak as well as numerous well-known supporting players such as Arthur O'Connell, Nick Adams, and Verna Felton - that really elevates the film. Director Josh Logan together with cinematographer James Wong Howe paint a series of beautiful and dramatically effective images of people and places through the judicious use of the 2.55:1 CinemaScope frame and Technicolor. Picnic is available on Blu-ray from Twilight Time as a result of Twilight's arrangement with Sony. The Blu-ray image is in a word, beautiful. Colour fidelity is excellent and image sharpness is very good with but a few minor exceptions. Image detail excels on both close-up and longer shots. As is typical of Twilight Time's efforts, there is no evidence of untoward digital manipulation. A 5.1 DTS-HD Master audio track does an impressive job at conveying George Duning's familiar music (under the baton of conductor Morris Stoloff) as well delivering quite a decent measure of immersion throughout the film. Dialogue is very clear. A 2.0 DTS-HD mix is also provided as are English subtitles. The extras comprise the theatrical trailer and an isolated score track (2.0 DTS-HD Master audio). Very highly recommended.