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a surprisingly delightful, witty, funny film!
grease_lightening20 July 2005
This film is highly underrated. I have heard of how "Penelope" was a flop from other sources. I saw it on TCM today as one of the birthday tributes to Natalie Wood. To my surprise, I found this film highly entertaining. The dialogue was witty and funny. Love the humor. This is one of the comedic best of Natalie Wood! Dick Shawn, Peter Falk, and Ian Bannen, who played her analyst, a police detective, and her husband respectively, did a fantastic job as the three men who fell in love with Penelope. A very funny film, brilliant, brilliant film! I was not very fond of 60's humor, but I still found this film hilarious. Whether you are a fan of 60's comedies or not, I assure that you will enjoy it as much as I do.
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Highly attractive fluff
This weren't as bad as some people say. There's three reasons to watch it: (3) There is actually some funny and witty material here, (2) the photography is gorgeous--both the interior shots and the glamorous locales of mid-1960's New York, and (1) Natalie is stunningly beautiful.
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Maltin Gets It Wrong Once Again! It's actually quite fun.
claudenorth26 July 2005
I wouldn't call it a classic, but PENELOPE is definitely a fun way to spend an afternoon. Natalie Wood is gorgeous and quite funny in the title role, and she has an amazing wardrobe. Dick Shawn and Peter Falk (practicing for COLUMBO?) provide strong supporting performances as a psychiatrist and a police lieutenant, respectively. Unfortunately, Ian Bannen lacks charisma, making it hard to believe that "Penelope" would choose his character over every other man in NYC. With its bright, bold colors and criminal exploits, PENELOPE plays like an extended episode of the "Batman" TV series. In fact, the film includes a reference to Batman. Definitely a must-see for Natalie Wood fans.
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an amazing witness of New York as Fun City
paloaltodad2 February 2005
I was 16 when this movie came out and completely overlooked it. I'm afraid I was more into the new wave at the Paris than this kind of thing at the mall.

I saw it 30 years later and was astounded by the beautiful and to my eye authentic documentation of New York City at a moment of awesome and perishable beauty--a phrase that describes equally well the amazing Natalie Wood. The screenplay is a failed attempt at a 60s 'modern' screwball comedy, but the film work and editing are wonderful, and the camera has loved very few people with the intensity it loves Natalie Wood who glows in the wonderful 60s fashions.
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Natalie Wood's most undervalued piece!
phoenix_cr11 April 2006
This was the first flick of Natalie's that I ever laid my eyes on, and, well, what can i say?... I was bedazzled, captivated, and why?, simply because it was Natalie. What is good about this movie?, 1-the cute little 60s outfits she wears!, you have to give her that. She embodied the true meaning of 60's style. 2-All the witty and light-headed arguments between Penelope and her therapist. 3-The persona created by Natalie as her Alterego Penelope seems to me now (with a wider knowledge of Natalie's Cinema) one of the finer representations of the charming and charismatic self that she in fact was, and well.... The movie in its wholesomeness turns to eye-candy before you can finish quoting it's title.

If you ever loved her, you love Penelope too.
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Absolutely beautiful, a classic
pesi1 June 1999
A must for vintage, colourful movies - they don't colour'em like the used to. The strong female character a rarity, such cheerfulness which in more recent times has been a trademark of Meg Ryan and Reese Witherspoon. Wonderful scenes including "How to blow bubble-gum", including Penelope and a detective Horatio. Great scenes with her analyst Gregory, who, understandably, has a hard time not falling in love with Penny.
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Worth checking out for "Johnny" Williams score!
reesho20 June 2006
Alright so it's not the greatest film in the world BUT I must recommend it anyway especially to those fans of the fabulously fun era of the late 60's. That 60's vibe is evident throughout the film. And I was surprised to hear "Johnny" Williams aprapos and quality score complete with Penelope theme song. Natalie Wood as Penelope is stunning and is also featured on a vocal number at the local "beatnik" club (now you don't want to miss that do you?) Peter Falk is the detective on Penelope's trail previewing his future role as Columbo and there are also many recognizable actors of that era in the film as well. Natalie Wood was very depressed over the lack of appreciation for this film but regained her career momentum with the success of "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" 3 years later.
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Plush budget but a thin plot...
moonspinner5522 May 2001
Natalie Wood finally gets a comedy vehicle all to herself, but the results are half-cocked. Crafty woman conspires to rob her husband's bank--perhaps because she needs love or attention--and that's the entire plot in a nutshell. It's dragged out for 97 minutes. Natalie and the supporting cast (colorful players like Peter Falk and Jonathan Winters) have, understandably, very little to work with, though the production values are plush and some of the comedy is breezy and amusing. Director Arthur Hiller mistakes broadly staged gags for funny set-pieces, and most often the movie is just silly. As for Natalie Wood, she provides what interest there is, she looks great (and sings beautifully!), but the entire film rests on her shoulders and it's not in her to carry the load alone. ** from ****
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Natalie Looks Great In This Insipid Comedy
Kelt Smith17 October 2000
Made in 1966 during the heigth of her starpower, PENELOPE is not one of Natalie Wood's better pictures, although she looks beautiful throughout and is adorable. Natalie was dating Arthur Lowe Jr around this time and he coincidentally produced this film. Natalie was also savvy enough to surround herself with an exceptionally strong supporting cast: Peter Falk, Dick Shawn, the one note Lila Kedrova, and small parts by Jonathan Winters, and the overlooked Amzie Strickland( who still does commercials today ). STORYLINE: Natalie as PENELOPE is a gorgeous rich young wife who feels neglected by her handsome banker hubby, so she robs his bank while wearing an expensive "Givenchy" suit and spends the majority of the film either trying to get rid of or retrieve the suit ! Neither plausible, nor side splittingly funny, it is however, standard 60's lite fare. TRIVIA: The film bombed at the box office and Natalie attempted suicide not long after. Natalie didn't make another movie for 3 years after this one, returning in the smash hit BOB,CAROL,TED & ALICE. Edith Evanson, who played the look a like bank robber died exactly 1 year before Natalie on 11/29/81.
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Natalie Wood was Beautiful
whpratt124 June 2006
Enjoyed this slap-stick film which dealt with all kinds of crazy things that Natalie Wood,(Penelope Elcott) "Sex & The Single Girl",'64, managed to get involved with, in order to get the attention of her husband, a Bank Executive. There are lots of laughs in this film and Natalie Woods had just gotten a divorce from Robert Wagner when she made this film and still managed to give a great charming and sexy role, where she runs around in her bra and panties. Peter Falk,(Lt. Horatio Bixbee),"Columbo TV Series" plays a police officer and seems to be captivated by the wiggle of Penelope's body and takes exceptions to putting her in jail when she really commits a bad crime against her poor husband. It is rather sad to view this film and see a beautiful Natalie Wood and realize she had to die in such a horrible way in life.
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Enchorde2 July 2004
Warning: Spoilers
** Here be spoilers **

Penelope Elcott (Wood) is bored and thinks her husband is too occupied with his bank to notice her. So how to get his attention? Why not rob his bank. And then join the investigation, led by Lt. Bixbee (Falk). However, when Bixbee arrests another suspect, Penelope feels that she must admit her crime to acquit the innocent lady. But now nobody believes her!

Not great but amusing and entertaining nonetheless. Good story with a lot of funny situations. Wood is good, and Falk is very much Falk (couldn't help to think of Columbo). Though both Bannen and Shawn has major parts as Penelope's husband and psychiatrist, respectively, I feel that their roles are minor in comparison to Wood. However both actor performs well. Unfortunately, the writers/director/producer or whoever decided cut the movie a little short. I believe that the movie could have been much more entertaining if more troublesome situations could have been made. Now, the entire movie along with some of the scenes seem to resolve a little too quickly.

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preppy-320 June 2006
Pretty dumb comedy about neglected wife Natalie Wood becoming a kleptomaniac to get her husband's (Ian Bannen's) attention. She even sees a psychiatrist (a very annoying Dick Shawn) to try to be cured. Then she robs her husband's bank and things just get sillier...

This isn't a total bomb. It's beautifully photographed--I've never seen NYC look like this; the settings and costumes are incredible; Wood is just gorgeous and Bannen is handsome and actually quite amusing as her husband. But two things destroy this--the script and Shawn. Shawn is WAY over the top in his performance--he's not funny just annoying. The script is pretty poor--there are a few good parts here and there but most of the comedy is just BAD!!! Wood and Bannen give it their all but the material just isn't there. The rest of the cast just overacts (horribly). It leads to a "happy" ending which had me rolling my eyes.

So it's worth seeing for Wood, Bannen, the cinematography (letter boxing is a must) and some mildly humorous material. Otherwise--forget it. I give it a 6.
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I almost thought I just dreamed this..
googlemorf4 November 2003
When I was six years old this was on TV. I saw the beginning and was sent to bed. I just remember the great theme song with the cartoon credits ( I love cartoon credits.. EVERY movie should have cartoon credits.. do you realize how much better BLAIR WITCH PROJECT would be with cartoon credits?), the robbery and Jonathan Winters chasing Natalie Wood around. I remember thinking, "Why is he doing that?" After all these years I am finally watching it again. It is kinda surreal.. Like a spoof of wacky sixties farces. Wood plays a kleptomaniac. I await the remake with Wynona Ryder.
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Natalie Wood
Vincentiu12 October 2013
it is her movie. amusing, nice, with few sparkles and almost from an old review, drop from other time. a comedy like many others. without great ambitions, childish and not really inspired but good occasion to rediscover an interesting actress. and that is all. far to be waist of time, it is not memorable. only fun from a period , lesson about love and a young Peter Falk. and the cast is basic sin because suggests too many expectations. in essence, a film for Natalie Wood fans. is it enough ? maybe not. but for a gloomy Sunday, cloudy afternoon , it is a not bad solution. maybe for costumes and jeweleries.
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Good if sick in bed
robtday20 June 2006
I saw this movie when I was a kid and thought it was pretty good. As an adult, however, I think it pretty much stinks. Natalie's character is just too much to take -- the writing is very bad. The guy chosen to play her husband shows no chemistry with Natalie whatsoever. Natalie is gorgeous of course and the clothes show she was the original "That Girl." Peter Falk is his usual glib self and with Dick Shawn I thought I was watching It's a Mad Mad Mad World. I've read that Natalie hated this movie and it almost seems to show in her performance. You can tell she and her co-star didn't have much going either; if you check the camera shots closely, it appears as if they shot a lot of their scenes separately. It's pretty sophisticated -- if you're 12 -- otherwise, save this one for when your're sick in bed with a fever.
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wish it was on DVD
MustardOfDoom2328 December 2010
okay, it's not perfect. it's a 60's screwball comedy filled with color, humor and silliness. Natalie Wood is great in it, very funny and she wears great clothes. Peter Falk must have been practicing for Columbo and the guy who plays her husband is acceptable if a bit boring sometimes. but then, i guess he's meant to be viewed that way. Wood plays a bored housewife who steals things whenever she feels like her husband isn't paying attention to her due to his work. so she robs his colleagues. Now this is all well and good but she also robs her husbands bank of $60,000. thats the plot, absurd and silly but fun and very funny. i can't understand why it bombed at the box office, never mind, at least it was a good bomb. don't forget that some of the best movies out there bombed at the box office. this isn't one of the best movies out there but it's great fun and i can think of worse way for you to spend your time. 7/10. this movie would be nothing without the always great Natalie Wood, who didn't show her flare for comedy that often.
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Kinda annoying, but Natalie is beautiful
zykcon24 March 2006
Natalie Wood, Peter Falk, Dick Shawn a great cast, NYC in the 60's a great location, even great opening credits… so how does this add up to such a boring movie? It is a movie I tried to there were some laughs and some great location shots, but what a bunch of annoying characters, I mean just about all of them. I guess Arthur Hiller was still just getting his feet wet; he did become a great director, and who would cast Ian Bannen as Penolpe's husband even as a straight man he's too much of a bore. As beautiful and sexy Penolpe is hers is the most annoying character of all, the Gracie Allen routine went out with... well Gracice Allen. I see that Hiller was trying to invoke the zaniness of the "screwball comedy" but this just came off as boring. High light - Natalie in her under garments being chased by Jonathan Winters
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A Film that Illustrates Why the French Like Jerry Lewis
aimless-4625 March 2006
If nothing else "Penelope" helps to explain the attraction the French have for Jerry Lewis movies, as unlike these "Penelope" type comedies the Lewis stuff actually contains a fair amount of humor. During the ten years before the arrival of Woody Allen and Mel Brooks, Hollywood had virtually ceded comedy over to television and concentrated on epics and overwrought melodrama. Disney did funny stuff for children like "The Shaggy Dog" and Disney alumni did beach movies for teenagers, but only Lewis was doing comedy features.

Hollywood did try to pass off a few very mild titillation films (for adults) as old style screwball comedies and "Penelope" is as good an example of this mislabeled genre as any other.

"Penelope" was Natalie Wood's last big starring role. She looks great but had no business being cast in this role because "The Great Race" had already revealed an almost complete absence of comedic talent and timing.

Technically it is a well-made production with a decent if not particularly witty script. You get a sense that the set was full of underutilized creative and production talent, constrained from making the film into more than its producers wanted.

It is interesting to see a very young Peter Falk playing (big surprise) a detective and perhaps even more interesting to see Dick Shawn as a relatively straight laced psychiatrist (why did director Arthur Hiller keep Shawn's manic talents in check?). Jonathan Winters makes a brief appearance as Penelope's lecherous college professor (in the film's main titillation scene).

There is even an appearance by the ubiquitous Fritz Feld, playing his standard pompous Frenchman, and (another big surprise) making popping noises by slapping his mouth with the palm of his hand to indicate his superiority and impatience.

If you just want to "look" at "Natalie" you could do worse than "Penelope". If you want actual comedy from the 1960's you will do a lot better with Jerry or with Frankie and Annette.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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Natalie Wood is the cutest thing in the universe!
deacon_blues-36 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Serious reviewers keep out, stay away, and spare us the jaded film-jargon-filled evaluations! This movie is about only one thing: FUN! It's a screwball comedy chick flick for men who love Natalie Wood. If the shoe fits, have a ball with this one! (BTW: What DOES it mean when you always forget your shoes?). I could have watched this film all night, over and over. Maybe that nauseates some of you stuff-shirted Scorsese devotees, but you can just take a hike anyway. I love Natalie, and this film is a smörgåsbord of shots and scenes of her just the way we love her. That alone should be enough. She steals every scene, of course; so, where's the downside in that? I know she hated herself in this film, but the real Natalie was something of a bitchy slut, anyway. Most of us are glad that only Bob Wagner had to put up with that Natalie. The rest of us can enjoy her wholeheartedly in this little trinket of a movie!
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Silly comedy but Natalie looks fantastic
blanche-227 February 2016
When "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" was on television starring Laurence Olivier, Maureen Stapleton, Natalie Wood, and Robert Wagner, I was working in the office. The next day every guy in the place was swooning over Natalie Wood. She certainly was beautiful.

This film was made when she was on top of the world and also dating Arthur Loew, the producer, (and my good friend's stepfather).

She plays the eponymous Penelope, the stunning wife of a bank officer (Ian Bannen). Feeling neglected, she robs his bank, disguised as an old lady. She runs into the ladies room and becomes Penelope and walks out with $60,000.

Eventually, the detective assigned to the case, Lt. Bixbee (Peter Falk), looking at the robbery film and figures out it's the young woman leaving the bank. She's wearing a yellow Givenchy suit, which she promptly donates to a thrift shop.

She sees her psychiatrist (Dick Shawn), who is madly in love with her, and he totally freaks out when he realizes she's telling him the truth -- she's a robber!

He convinces her that the suit will be a problem, so she returns to the thrift shop to buy it back.

This is typical of '60s comedies -- not laugh out loud material, but featuring some glamour and a flimsy story.

It is a good and very capable cast, with funnymen Shawn and Jonathan Winters, Peter Falk, and Ian Bannen as her husband.

Sadly this movie failed miserably, and some time later, Wood attempted suicide and didn't make another film for three years. So while you might think having guys drooling all over you, money, success, and a powerful boyfriend are the keys to happiness, in her case, they weren't.
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Delightful, if Insubstantial, Bit of Mid-Sixties Fluff
Aldanoli1 January 2019
Warning: Spoilers
"Penelope," a Natalie Wood vehicle from 1966, is a pleasant, breezy little film that in some ways fits into the rash of caper movies ("Topkapi," "Kaleidoscope," "Gambit," "Arabesque," etc.) that populated movie screens in the mid-1960s. While it, too, has a one-word title, it differs from those others in that it's more of a character study than a clever "howdunnit" procedural focusing on the title character and her marital relationship with her bank president husband (Ian Bannen).

It's not really spoiling anything to say that Penelope disguises herself as an old woman and makes off with a large haul of cash -- if only because that event happens in the first few minutes. She then cleverly makes her way out of the bank unrecognized, and heads directly for her psychiatrist's office, where she is undergoing heavy psychoanalysis for her kleptomania. Penelope eventually figures out that the reason she decided to knock off her husband's own bank was to get her workaholic husband's attention -- though the audience likely will have figured this long beforehand.

Penelope eventually attracts the attention of a dogged police detective played by Peter Falk. Some reviewers have suggested (after the fact of course) that this was in some ways a pilot for Falk's later role as Lt. Columbo. Falk's characterization here does have some of "Oh, excuse me, excuse me -- one more thing . . ." that came to embody his Columbo role. But no one knew that in 1966, and the pilot for the TV series was still a couple of years away -- and Columbo operated out of Los Angeles, and there's nary a rumpled raincoat nor a dilapidated car in this New York City-based motion picture. So while it's possible that the producers of the later TV series were inspired by this movie, it's likely more a coincidence than anything else.

The "twist," if one can call it that, is that eventually when Penelope decides to come clean and admit her culpability in the bank heist (and in various other thefts over the years), no one (including her hubby) will believe her -- which is also the opposite of the conceit in every episode of "Columbo," where the villain usually gets his or her comeuppance in the final scene. How she makes her way out of that little problem is the nail on which the rest of the film hangs.

In a film of this vintage, though, what's almost always as interesting is the supporting cast, all of whom are now no longer with us. In addition to Peter Falk, there's Dick Shawn as her psychiatrist, who carries his own dark secret that he's smitten with his patient (and apparently keeps his own shrink sequestered in a back room on a lifetime retainer). Those who know Ian Bannen only from his late works as a white-haired elder (in "Waking Ned Devine," "Braveheart," or "Hope and Glory") might be surprised to find him here as a dark-haired Louis Jourdan-lookalike, very much the ladykiller (which is one of the problems that Penelope has with him).

Sadly, Jonathan Winters, though fourth-billed, is wasted in a single 3-minute scene that plays more like a fantasy scene, literally kangaroo-hopping around a college classroom trying to manhandle the young Penelope, eventually tearing off her dress. Any number of unknowns could have played the part without wasting the time and talent of one of the great improvisational actors of all time.

So, what one really finds with this movie is a charming, if insubstantial, confection -- occasionally dated by the notions of its time, as when a detective watching footage of bank-robber Penelope exiting the bank notes that she has a pleasant "wiggle." She does . . . but then, it's hard to image that line of dialogue ever making its way into a motion picture today -- unless it's about the sexist attitudes of the mid-1960s. More substantial, perhaps, are the movie's two songs, the title song by Leslie Bricusse and a folk song written by Gale Garnet that's sung by Wood herself -- allowing her to demonstrate, if nothing else, that she had a lovely singing voice.
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Mainly for clothes horses and fans of Edie Head
macpet49-128 October 2008
It's always fun to see Nat again. She was so pretty. This movie hasn't very much going for it but Nat and her marvellous Head wardrobe which is really the star of the movie. It just shows how powerful Head became at this point in Hollywood. Edie was by now writing books on how to dress as well as appearing on TV regularly doing makeovers for civilians. It is a bit of a waste to see Peter Finch in his pre-Columbo days as well as some well-used character actors inc. the usual penny-pinching stealing Jew selling Penelope's designer clothes at marked up prices from a thrift shop. It's unfortunate that Hollywood was still stereotyping people, but as I always say, stereotypes come from a large portion of the population that is exactly that. I speak from firsthand experience. I'm a gay man who admits the stereotypical 'flaming faggot' does exist in great numbers in the community and is unfortunately still around (witness 'Queer Guy' and the worst designer queens available they hired for the show). So, yeah, NYC back in the 60s was rife with back-stabbing retail Jews and I suppose they included him as a token. So, go for the looksee at what was chic in 1966 and forget the other.
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A curiosity, worth a look if you're a fan
lnoft9731 July 2014
Natalie Wood certainly looks spectacularly beautiful in this movie. She wears gorgeous clothes, stunning wigs, great jewels, and an astonishing number of breathtakingly beautiful fur coats. A different dead animal draped around her every 15 minutes! Is this a 'good movie'? I dunno. The plot is dumb, and actually I just watch it with the sound turned down, not even trying to follow the plot, because it is just such wonderful eye candy. Look at the divine Ms. Wood, tripping in high heels and glamorous outfits, down the street of a New York that is no more. Look at the divine Ms. Wood, in her eye-popping New York apartment complete with house boy, being neglected by her busy banker husband. It's like a screwball comedy of the 30's (think the idle rich in their all white mansions full of flowers, getting up to all kinds of funny business) updated to the 60's. And here is something else: this was made in 1966, at the height of the swinging' 60's - the miniskirts, the Beatles, the hippies, Viet Nam - and not a trace of the swinging' 60's can be found. It's all fur coats and jewels and little silk sheath dresses and hats and gloves. Made for and marketed to Natalie Wood fans of course, and people over 30 who turn their noses up at those crass loud young people! Not to mention those filthy hippies! . A whole different, parallel world existing side by side with the younger world. Mad Men ladies who lunch, in expensive Edith Head concoctions. Their day was already past, but you wouldn't know it from this movie.
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It tries way too hard to be funny....and mostly fails.
MartinHafer25 September 2019
"Penelope" is a Natalie Wood film with some redeeming qualities, though mostly it's tiresome and about as subtle as a stripper at a Baptist picnic!

Penelope (Wood) is a screwball who is married to a 5th Avenue banker. Despite them having lots of money, she's a compulsive thief...and the film begins with her robbing her husband's bank! Along with her psychiatrist, they come to realize that she has stolen for years but it's out of control now because she is doing this to get her inattentive husband's attention. So, she then realizes that she should let the husband know....but he and the police don't believe her. This leads to one of the only funny portions of the film...when she is HAPPY to see blackmailers come to threaten to tell her husband she's a thief! What's next? See the film.

"Penelope" is a very uneven movie. Too often, it lacks subtlety and resorts to very cheap laughs (complete with kooky sound effects) instead of intelligent writing. It's not all bad....but mostly bad. I cannot blame the actors...they are pretty good (including Peter Falk in a role much like his later Columbo). No, the writing (and to a lesser extent the direction) that are the problem. Interesting but highly flawed.

By the way, if you do see the movie, you might also find it surprising to see Arlene Galonka playing a prostitute. Normally on TV she played sweet roles on wholesome shows like "Mayberry RFD"!!
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Campy, silly and a bit ridiculous ... but then again, it has Natalie Wood
gbill-7487728 April 2016
This 1966 comedy is campy, silly, and a bit ridiculous, but on the other hand, it has Natalie Wood, and that rounds it up to an almost passable film - and if you adore her as I do, worth watching, maybe lightly, in the background while reading. She is absolutely beautiful in the role of an irrepressible housewife who turns to robbery because her husband doesn't pay enough attention to her. Jesus, talk about a plot hole right there. :P Peter Falk is good as the detective on her trail, and it was interesting to see Jonathan Winters in a small part as well (he's a sex-crazed professor who chases her around until her clothes rip off and she's left capering about in her underwear … not exactly politically correct).

On a more somber note, it's sad to think of the troubles this 5' tall daughter of Russian immigrants had in her life, ultimately leading to her creepy drowning death at the age of 43. She took several years off from acting after making this film which speaks to some of the turmoil she was going through, and it's jarring to understand that in light of just how airy this film is, and how happy she seems to be in it.
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