Hal Carter (William Holden) comes from nothing and seems to be headed towards nothing. He flunked out of college where he had a football scholarship and since then he has been drifting, hoping for somewhere to settle and make something of himself. Hal jumps off of the train in a small Midwestern town where his old college buddy Alan Benson’s father owns the local grain elevator.
Things are looking up for Hal until he catches the eye of not only Alan’s girlfriend Madge Owens, but Madge’s younger sister Millie and unmarried schoolteacher Rosemary. All comes to a head at the town’s end of summer Labor Day Picnic. Holden, Kim Novak, Cliff Robertson, Rosalind Russell, and Susan Strasberg provide wonderful acting in this drama from a play by William Inge.