Director: Arthur Hiller
See it on YouTube here.
Penelope might not be a milestone in motion picture history, but it sure is a great example of the charming mainstream movies that were made in the 1960's, and one of the better ones in that category too. Think How to Steal a Million with Audrey Hepburn and Peter O'Toole from the same year.
This Natalie Wood vehicle beghins with the opening of James B. Elcott's (Bannen) bank, who proudly claims that money is more safe within the walls of his bank than if the Loch Ness monster itself had guarded it. Within a few minutes, the bank is being robbed by an old woman, who is soon revealed to us being Elcott's wife Penelope (Wood) in disguise.
Why did she rob the bank? Being the bank managers wife she certainly don't have any financial troubles. Penelope seems awefully pleased and relaxed about the robbery, changing outfits and wigs during taxi rides as if it was a childhood game of hers. During psychology sessions, with the eccentric and rather nutty Dr. Gregory Mannix (Shawn), Penelope's past is revealed through flashbacks, and an explaination to why she likes to steal begins to reach the surface.
There isn't much to say about this film when it comes to analysis. This is pure entertainment, and it succeeds in its purpose. If you want to see Natalie Wood in different gorgeous 1960's outfits (what man or woman wouldn't?), watch it. Want an hour and a half light, but not stupid, entertainment? Watch it. But if you want Citizen Kane, look somewhere else.
As a little sidenote, I just realized something I actually like better in newer films than in older ones (!) - the development of entertaining introductions to films. Penelope is a lovely example of that. Even before the film has started, you have the film's theme stuck in your head.
"This... is... Penelope..."
See them for yourself, and tell me you don't feel like making a cup of tea, wrap yourself up in a cosy blankett and depart from this world for a little while!
And since I want to use some of the pictures filling my computer, here's Miss Wood!