Penelope (1966 film)

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Penelope (1966 film) poster.jpg
Directed by Arthur Hiller
Produced by Arthur Loew, Jr.
Written by E. V. Cunningham (Novel)
George Wells
Starring Natalie Wood
Ian Bannen
Dick Shawn
Peter Falk
Lila Kedrova
Lou Jacobi
Jonathan Winters
Music by Johnny Williams
Cinematography Harry Stradling
Edited by Rita Roland
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • November 10, 1966 (1966-11-10)
Running time 98 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $4 million (est. US/ Canada rentals)[1]

Penelope is a 1966 comedy film directed by Arthur Hiller and starring Natalie Wood, Ian Bannen, Peter Falk, Jonathan Winters, and Dick Shawn. A novelisation of the screenplay was written by Howard Melvin Fast writing as E.V. Cunningham.


Penelope Elcott (Natalie Wood) is the wife of wealthy banker James Elcott (Ian Bannen). Penelope decides to disguise herself as an old woman and rob her husband's bank. While the police, including Lieutenant Horatio Bixbee (Peter Falk) rush to get to the bank, Penelope manages to escape in a red wig and yellow suit. She donates some of the stolen money to a Salvation Army worker and donates the suit to a second hand thrift shop. As she drops off the suit, two cunning con artists Sabada (Lila Kedrova) and her husband Ducky (Lou Jacobi) immediately recognize the suit as an original designer outfit from Paris, and manage to purchase it for a mere $7. Meanwhile, Penelope visits her psychiatrist, Gregory, (Dick Shawn) and tells him all about her criminal activities. He asks her how she was first introduced to stealing. Penelope tells him that it began in college, when a professor (Jonathan Winters) asked her to stay behind. She quickly discovers that the professor was trying to rape her and escapes the class wearing only her underwear. She notices that, during the chase, she had managed to steal an item ( a diamond set watch) of the Professor's.

Then she remarked the next time she stole was during her wedding day when she caught her maid of honour Mildred Halliday (Norma Crane) kissing James. She steals Mildred's earrings and necklace. Gregory comments that the reason she is stealing is because she is trying to attract attention from her distant husband. A young woman, Honeysuckle Rose, is caught with the money and accused of being the thief. This is due to Gregory's having agreed to return the stolen money to the bank, but instead quickly leaves the money on the sidewalk when he hears police cars arriving.

Penelope confesses that she robbed the bank and tries to clear the innocent Honeysuckle, but Horatio the cop and her husband don't believe her. Ducky and Sabada pay a visit to Penelope at home, telling her they have proof that she robbed the bank, and trying to blackmail her, but she foils their attempt when she tells them that she wants them to convince the police and her husband that she is indeed the robber.

As James returns home from work, Penelope asks Ducky and Sabada to show James the proof, however the two mystified con artists pretend that Penelope is mad and that they have been trying to sell her a dress.

Later that day, Penelope hosts a dinner party where she invites all the guests whom she has stolen from. She tries to return the stolen items to their owners, but all claim that they have never seen the items before. Penelope, confused and frightened, runs away. The following morning James is frantic with worry. Penelope yet again robs James' bank, but unlike the previous time, she is crying. James goes to Horatio begging him to find Penelope. Penelope herself goes to Horatio later with the stolen money proving to him that she did rob James' bank, however Horatio knows James would not press charges against his own wife. Penelope goes to visit the psychiatrist, Gregory, telling him all that has happened, and he explains that the reason the guests at the party denied recognizing the stolen items is because they would lose the fraudulently inflated insurance claims they collected on from the theft. During their session Gregory breaks down and begs Penelope to run away with him. However, Penelope refuses, telling him she is cured. James also in his search realizes that he has abandoned Penelope, as he starts seeing her face everywhere he turns; he arrives at Gregory's office and James and Penelope happily reunite.



  1. ^ "Big Rental Pictures of 1966", Variety, 4 January 1967 p 8

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