I first saw Picnic in the mid seventies as a young teen. I was a little young to understand the romantic entanglements at that age but I've watched this movie repeatedly through the years and the characters have become more three dimensional, their motivations more clear with each watching.
I think most everyone can find a piece of themselves in Hal (the drifter who boasts to conceal his shyness and feelings of worthlessness), Millie (the brainy younger sister of Madge who feels overshadowed by her beautiful sister), Mrs. Potts (who no doubt wished for romance and family as a young woman but found herself tied to an invalid mother), Miss Sydney (the old maid school teacher whose clock is ticking and who is growing more desparately lonely with each new school year). Even Madge's mother, who finds herself a bit flattered on her first introduction to Hal, is somewhat sympathetic. She, herself, fell for a charasmatic charmer, only to be left behind by his drinking and womanizing. She's allowed herself to harden through the years, seeing young Mr. Benson and his wealth as a way out for her daughter, Madge. I admit, I've seen this movie so many times, I mouth the dialogue along with the characters. When Madge's mother is consoling her, explaining her protectiveness towards Millie, I fairly scream, "Don't you see...I'm trying to make up for all those golden years you had that she didn't." So...spread out a blanket, gather up the tissues and prepare for a sweet and bittersweet summer Picnic.