Alfred Hitchcock’s Missing Picnic in Spellbound

Alfred Hitchcock’s Missing Picnic in Spellbound

“Ham or liverwurst,” he asks. “Liverwurst,” she replies with a knowing smile.” It’s the start of a picnic (and a convoluted romance) for Dr. Anthony Edwardes (aka John Ballantyne) and Constance Petersen. Are we meant to wonder at Petersen’s knowing smile as she...
John Banville’sThe Sea

John Banville’sThe Sea

John Manville’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...
Nathaniel West’s The Day of the Locust

Nathaniel West’s The Day of the Locust

The Day of the Locust may have been the best novel ever written about Hollywood, but Nathanael West and his publisher Random House miscalculated. They believed an acerbic satire of the film industry and it’s insidious confusion of illusion and reality would sell, but...
Ernest Hemingway’s The Garden of Eden

Ernest Hemingway’s The Garden of Eden

The Garden of Eden has two picnics; one is unpleasant and the other happy. They are key moments in the novel, but John Irvin’s film with a script by John Scott Linville omits them. Instead there are two outings at the beach neither of which is more than eye candy. For...
Fontane’s Effi Briest

Fontane’s Effi Briest

Proving that picnics and love are a natural combination, the plot of Theodor 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 Innstettin, and a friend, Major von Crampas. But when...
James Bond’s Picnic

James Bond’s Picnic

There is a picnic in Terrence Young’s From Russia With Love (1963) but not in Ian Fleming’s novel. It’s inconsequential, shaken, but not stirred. Featured Image: Terrence Young. From Russia, With Love (1963). Screenplay by  Malbaum and Joanna Harwood based on Ian...
Jean Renoir’s Le déjeuner sur l’herbe

Jean Renoir’s Le déjeuner sur l’herbe

Renoir’s Le déjeuner sur l’herbe [released in English as Picnic on the Grass] is a satiric jab at Huxley’s dystopian novel Brave New World and Greek myth. By contrasting two picnics, Renoir suggests that sexless scientific rationality is no match for inherent human...
Hogg’s Glum Picnic (and Nobody Cares)

Hogg’s Glum Picnic (and Nobody Cares)

Glum! The Isles of Scilly, usually clement, but this picnic is cold. It’s perfect for a glum family on a short vacation to see off Edward, who is about to leave for a new job of combating AIDS and promoting safe sex in Africa. There is some levity, a few smiles, but...
Orwell’s Picnic in a Field of Bluebells

Orwell’s Picnic in a Field of Bluebells

Winston Smith’s relationship with Julia (no last name) is among the most satisfying moments in George Orwell’s 1984. It’s an interlude of romantic entanglement that begins a lustful relationship ending in pain and utter defeat. Leaving the dust of London for a safe...