Sunday, January 31, 2016

Having a “Picnic” in Bigfork in February Could be a Bit Chilly

The romantic comedy film “Picnic,” made in 1955, just might warm you up a bit in the below zero weather outside. If you are in Northern Minnesota, it is certainly after the end of summer around here and that white stuff on the ground would be cold enough let alone the minus zero temperatures. But there will be some hot stuff going “on screen” for this movie classic. “Picnic” is about an outsider showing up in town and in 24 hours managing to shake-up everything considered “normal” for a lot of people. It seems like everyone he encounters gets his or her normal lives turned up-side-down for the better or worse.  “Picnic” will be shown by Jack Nachbar at The Edge Center in Bigfork on February 11th at 6:30PM free of charge. The movie will be accompanied by Jack’s presentation providing a better understanding of the film at the time period of the picture.

At 37 years old William Holden was considered too old for the part, but he was happy to end his contract with Colombia Pictures with such a great part and, in lots of movie goers opinions he showed the doubters that he was not too old (even if he had to shave his chest to look more youthful). While Holden was getting a bit old for such parts, this was an early film for Kim Novak and is considered her breakout movie by many. The movie garnered six Oscar award nominations and won two. It’s number 59 in AFI’s “100 years…100 passions” list, and even won the prestigious Grand Prix Award of the Belgian Critics association.  Not bad for a movie that even had real tornadoes and torrential rains stopping on-location work.

Another “star” of the film was music. "Theme From Picnic" reached number one on the 1956 Billboard charts and was number 14 overall that year. It was composed by George Duning  with original lyrics  by Steve Allen. The song is featured in a dance scene between Holden and Novak where it was blended with the 1930’s standard “Moon Glow”. Other artists often later paired the two songs after the movie was made, and even the film soundtrack album was on the Billboard charts.

And speaking of dancing, Holden was so nervous about dancing with Novak that he reportedly went to Kansas roadhouses and practiced  steps in front of jukeboxes with choreographer Miriam Nelson. Above photos

William Holden (1918 –1981) was one of the biggest box office draws of the 50’s through the 70’s. He won Oscars for best actor in “Stalog 17” and a prime time Emmy for his role in the 1973 TV film “Blue Knight.”   He had over 70 feature films to his credit plus numerous other awards including being 25th on AFI’s list of 25 greatest male stars of Classic Hollywood Cinema. Reference:

Holden had roles with some of the greatest leading ladies of the era, but, in this writer’s opinion, none were more beautiful than Kim Novak. “Picnic” was at the beginning of her career and showed her at her best. Photo below

Kim Novak asked director Joshua Logan to pinch her black and blue off screen, telling him, "I can only cry when I'm hurt." That must be an early example of serious method acting. We really don’t know if he did and she did or if it was all Hollywood hype, but it certainly sounds believable. Reference:

Born Marilyn Pauline in 1933, Kim Novak did not have a long film career, but in that career she played opposite some of the top leading men of the era. Her career began in 1954 when she signed up with Columbia Pictures, and “Picnic” was her fourth film with them. It is hard to judge her acting abilities or staying power in Hollywood because she backed away from her career 1966 after a period of “not so great” films. She technically retired, but has appeared sporadically in film and TV work. Reference:

The studio wanted to promote Rosalind Russell for an Oscar in “Picnic,” but she refused because it would have been in the best supporting category and not the star. Many felt she would have won that Oscar. Photo below

Rosalind Russell (1907 –1976) was an actress that had a fabulous forty year career. She won all five Golden Globes for which she was nominated.  That was the most ever until Meryl Streep won her sixth Globe in 2007. Rosalind won a Tony Award for a Broadway Musical, and was nominated for an Oscar four times.

So if you would like to see one of 1956’s top box office attractions that earned the studio a huge $6.3 million (that was huge in 1955) come and see “Picnic” on the “Big Screen ” of the Edge Center in Bigfork. You can see this movie free of charge.  Some appropriate snacks will be served courtesy of Jack and his wife/projectionist, Lynn.  Place: The Edge Center for the Arts, Bigfork. Date and time: Thursday February 11th at 6:30PM. It will be worth going out in the cold to a nice warm theater.