Thursday, October 27, 2011

TOP 300 MOVIES OF ALL TIME: #230 " PICNIC " (1955)

Directed by Joshua Logan this film was unusual for its time. How? It focused its gaze on how the leading man "moved" the women in the film. It might seem tame by modern standards but this is really a coming of age film focused on the women rather than the men which is historically the norm. Female sexuality was rarely depicted so obviously.

William Holden is more or less a drifter come to town to get a job from his college buddy, played by the now late Cliff Robertson. Performing odd chores he draws the attention of the women in town but notably Kim Novak. Novak of course is supposed to marry Robertson and there lies the conflict. The respectable businessman destined to inherit his father's business or the transient Holden? Who does she choose?

The film is loaded with superior supporting performances. Susan Strasberg as Novak's younger sister, enfatuated with Holden. Betty Field as their mother,Verna Felton as their neighbor.

The most notable supporting performances are Arthur O'Connell as a handyman, but more importantly, Rosalind Russell as a spinster teacher desparate for Holden. Rosalind Russell should have won an Oscar but was not nominated because she lobbied Warner Brothers not to seek her nomination because she wanted one for a leading role. She would just three years later for "Auntie Mame". 

The highlight of the film is near the end with a memorable dance on a pier by the town river on the evening of the "Neewollah" festival. Very good stuff. 

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