Terribly terribly dated -- the script and the play are a batch of easy psychological and coming of age tropes, a lot less than meets the eye. Holden's just way too fucking old for the role, there's just no doubt about it.
It's a mess, a complete, total, and utter mess. I have a feeling the play the film was based upon is a lot more daring and complex than the film itself. However this is still a fun little melodrama and I just love the Technicolor cinematography so I can't totally hate on it. It kills two hours.
Sometimes it get's small town despair particularly of women sort of right (or maybe that's just because I love Russell and Novak) but like Holden is as like everyone says way too old to do Rebel Without A Cause angst, but more in that he seems like someone who would have been really good at it years before this movie
This is precisely the moment when I came to not only Love William Holden, but ADORE his irresolutely. Kim Novak is perfectly cast as well. I don't ever see her as she is in Vertigo when I recall her any more, I recall her washing her hair in Picnic. This film is so very terrific.
The dance scene is as hot today as it was years ago. Kim Novak is the only naturalistic performer in this film. Everyone else, without exception, is hamming. James Wong Howe's cinematography is beautiful and gives the film some nuance.