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WILLIAM HOLDEN & KIM NOVAK STAR IN A CAMPY 'PICNIC'

Year of Release: 1955
"At a PICNIC, everybody disappears." This line from one of the creepiest-of-schlock, unintentionally strange and eerie motion pictures ever, proving that, in many cases, Film Noir or Science-Fiction are the purest, safest forms of cinema when delving into the 1950's...

Camp Value: **1/2
Starring William Holden, ten years too old for the part of a grownup-kid-type, about a decade out of college visiting the small town where old pal Cliff Robertson romances local beauty Kim Novak, whose little sister, played by future PSYCH-OUT starlet Susan Strasberg, innocently flirts with Holden's mysterious gentleman nomad who's been around the block more than anyone in the conservative setting: where the titular PICNIC is the centerpiece including Novak being worshiped in a swan boat while the town sings a dirge-paced "Ain't She Sweet" along with a barber shop quartet lined across, before and beyond a storybook bridge...

Regular Movie Score/Value: *1/2
The stagey (clumsily based on a play) dialogue is godawful, including a description of dusk being clouds having one last "scrap" in the sky, or when Holden — after his (as seen in every poster) shirt's torn to partially display his famously muscular SUNSET BLVD bod (itself looking decades younger than his handsomely devilish, timeworn mug) — says, "She saw through me like an X-Ray machine," or, to Novak, about to wait beneath her window till the promise of a technicolor dawn, "You make me feel important... No! You make me feel... Patient!"

And right beforehand: "I'm getting tired of... just being told I'm... pretty," complains Novak as she's deliberately driven off from the PICNIC by Holden's primal beast, resembling more of an insurance salesman on a lost weekend than an ex-convict back on the run from the law, and this time from  kissing the prettiest girl in town in front of his rich buddy/her pseudo boyfriend, Robertson, whose incessant whine, along with Holden's monotone delivery when he's not feigning drunken youth in an awkward, goofy fashion, makes mincemeat of two otherwise great actors. "Let me go, you bum," Robertson shouts to his rougher/tougher ex-crony: "You no good... hobo!" All to the sound of that decade's type of fiercely melodramatic score locked inside of haunting reverberation. That is, until an occasional waist-up-lustful samba-beat ensues as the dames become sporadically mesmerized by Holden's boisterous yet enigmatic persona like daft, dizzy schoolgirls to a flashing image on a picture show screen. Which could be the intention all along. The characters are both the performers and audience.
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