James Hilton’s Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1934)

James Hilton’s Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1934)

Hilton’s romantic Goodbye, Mr. Chips describes the courtship of Chip and Katherine as being so brief that within a week of meeting, “they were head over heels in love” and married soon after. This is not what a filmmaker wants in a romantic tale. The consequence is...
Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961)

Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961)

Spark’s Brodie sometimes took the girls into the Marcia Blaine school garden for a lesson. But it was a lesson and not a picnic. But Ronald Neame’s film picnic with Jean Brodie and her girls is his own invention. For the film, Neame and screenwriter Jay Pressen...
William Goldman’s The Princess Bride (1973)

William Goldman’s The Princess Bride (1973)

Rob Reiner is faithful to William Goldman’s novel The Princess Bride, for which Goldman wrote the screenplay.  “Indeed,” he writes in the novel, Vizzini, “had set out a little picnic spread. From the knapsack that he always carried, he had taken a small handkerchief,...
Charlie Chaplin’s A Day’s Pleasure (1919)

Charlie Chaplin’s A Day’s Pleasure (1919)

Though sometimes titled Charlie’s Picnic, A Day’s Pleasure was meant to be ironic because the story is a series of misfortunes: seasickness, fistfights, and return home that ends with a fight with traffic police in a drying pile of cement.  The final screen legend...
Edna Ferber’s Giant (1952)

Edna Ferber’s Giant (1952)

Giant is Ferber’s novel about how a Virginia belle, Leslie Lynton, learns to be a Texan. Among her lessons is what to eat during a Texas-style picnic at her husband Reata,  Jordan’s ranch. At first, Leslie realizes that what she is looking at is “no ordinary picnic...
Monica Ali’s  Brick Lane (2007)

Monica Ali’s Brick Lane (2007)

Monica Ali’s family in Brick Lane is outwardly happy but inwardly troubled. After twenty years, Nazneen’s arranged marriage to Chanu Ahmed has gone wobbly. She’s never loved Chanu, but at the time of the picnic, she’s conflicted by guilt and lust-fueled by Karim, a...
John Banville’sThe Sea (2005)

John Banville’sThe Sea (2005)

Banville’s The Sea is about a man’s untrustworthy memories—less about his dying wife and more about his sexual awakening when he was about eleven years old. Looking back, Max Morden realizes that his observations of the Grace family’s beach picnics “changed his life...
Norman Z. McLeod’s Monkey Business (1931)

Norman Z. McLeod’s Monkey Business (1931)

  The plot of Monkey Business is fluff. The Marx brothers are hiding in kippered herring barrels on a transatlantic liner crossing to New York. The narrative ends in a barn (whereabouts unknown) in which Groucho and Chico picnic in a hay pile.  Featured Image:...
H.E. Bates’s A Month by the Lake

H.E. Bates’s A Month by the Lake

DRAFT For all that happens in H.E. Bates’ story and John Irvin’s film A Month by the Lake, Lake Como might as well be “Lake Coma.” Bates’ original story includes a lovely picnic in the summer of 1937 meant to enhance the slow-paced relationship of the middle-aged...
Theodor Fontane’s Effi Briest (1896)

Theodor Fontane’s Effi Briest (1896)

Fontane’s Effi Briest hinges on a beach-picnic love affair. At first, it’s a recreational outing for Effi Briest, her husband, Geert von Innstetten, and a friend, Major von Crampas. But when Instettin leaves town on business, the picnicking episodes continue, and the...