Saturday, September 5, 2009

Penelope (1966)

Director: Arthur Hiller
USA 1966
97 min
Starring: Natalie Wood, Ian Bannen, Dick Shawn and Peter Falk, among others.

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.

Funny how hard it is to find anything but
black and white photos from a color film...

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!


C.K. Dexter Haven said...

Leave it to yours truly to cover the soundtrack angle of things. Penelope's score was composed by the one and only John Williams:

Lolita said...

C.K. Dexter Haven:
Oh, yes! And Henry Mancini! Thanks, Dexter :)

Mykal said...

Lolita: I love the Natalie Wood photographs. She was one of the rare beauties that was every kind of attractive there is: She was "Lovely." She was a "Classic Beauty." She was "Sexy and Exotic." And last, but in no ways least, she was just very, very "cute." In short, she had it all. She could even act, too.

That last shot of her in the simple black dress with Manhattan in the background is one I hadn't seen, and it absolutely captures her jaw-dropping allure.

Thanks for the eye candy. -- Mykal

P-E Fronning said...

Underbart snygg bok!!

Christopher said...

love those opening hand.."gimme all them things!"
I must a seen this at some time..but can't remember it..When I first saw the name Penelope come up on the screen, I thought it was gonna be about the newer Christina Ricci movie ,which was pretty cyuuute!

Sarah said...

YAY I love Penelope! :D
And I love the post you did! The opening titles are so entertaining!

Lolita said...

I agree! Marilyn Monroe was another one: cute, classical beauty and reeaally sexy.
I adore the last photo too, so natural and beautiful.

P-E Fronning:
Absolut! ;)

Haha, love them too! Haven't seen the Ricci movie, or even heard of it!

Thank you! Yes, a little piece of art in themselves :)

Amber Rose, Laughing With Broken Eyes said...

Thank you for this! I'm watching 'A Night With Natalie' on TCM and there was just a preview for 'Penelope'. I'm surprised how hard it is to come by, and I'd not even considered looking on youtube.

Anyhow, I stopped reading after I found the link-- I don't want to spoil anything-- but I did look at the photos. I'll probably come back tomorrow morning with a comment about how incredible the film was.