This is a considerably enlarged Picnic, introducing new scope and style in flow of presentation without dissipating the mood and substance of the legiter by William Inge. The boards-to-screen transplanters correctly refrained from making any basic changes. It’s the story of a robust and shiftless showoff who, looking up an old college chum in a small town in Kansas, sets off various emotional responses among the small group of local inhabitants he encounters.
William Holden is the drifter, sometimes ribald, partly sympathetic and colorful and giving a forceful interpretation all the way.
Kim Novak is the town’s No. 1 looker, and an emotional blank until muscle-man (and, to her, downtrodden) Holden proves an awakening force. Novak does right well.
Rosalind Russell, the spinster school teacher boarding with Novak’s family, is standout.
1955: Best Color Art Direction, Editing.
Nominations: Best Picture, Director, Supp. Actor (Arthur O’Connell), Scoring of a Dramatic Picture