Edith Head

This Old Thing? It’s Just Givenchy

Remember, blowing bubbles is one big trick

Peter Falk and Natalie Wood have a romantic bubblegum-blowing contest.

True or False: If you owned a fabulous lemon-yellow Givenchy suit, you would wear it when robbing a bank.

Or, perhaps, like us, you would have to rob a bank in order to obtain the Givenchy suit.

We’ve been pondering this Deep Question ever since we saw Penelope, a comedy about a neglected wife (Natalie Wood) who is so desperate for attention she knocks over her husband’s bank.

Now, we cannot endorse anyone holding up a bank – haute couture notwithstanding – but Wood’s bank-president husband (Ian Bannen) is so annoying, it’s hard to retain any moral perspective on the matter.

Back to the lemon Givenchy. After the robbery, the fabulous designer suit becomes problematic. It is a key piece of evidence in the heist (as seen on security tape), and suddenly it’s hot! hot! hot! Wood unloads the suit at a thrift store, where it is immediately grabbed by shady clothiers Lou Jacobi and Lila Kedrova.

(Digression #1: We adore Jacobi and Kedrova so much, we wish the film was entirely about them. Here is some marvelous dialogue that Jacobi delivers over a plate of cold cuts: “Ah, Cherie, now that’s what I call a vintage pastrami. … Quickly, my angel! The cream soda.”)

The film also benefits from the appearance of a young Peter Falk as – surprise! – a police detective. He’s no fool, this copper, and he tries to not let his attraction to Wood interfere with his investigation of the robbery.

This film is pure aspartame. There are a lot of scenes where Wood fiddles with her amazing clothes/bank robber disguises in the back of fleeing taxi cabs. Come to think of it, Penelope is just a Natalie Wood fashion show with an armed robbery tossed into the mix. But we can forgive this obvious ploy, because the costume designer showcased in this movie is our idol, Edith Head.

(Digression #2: Watch for the primitive 60′s-era drink-box during one of the scenes in the therapist’s office. It’s an actual BOX!)

If you’re looking for a fun, fluffy film, check out Penelope. And give us your opinion of the lemon-yellow Givenchy.

Penelope: starring Natalie Wood, Ian Bannen and Peter Falk. Written by George Wells. Directed by Arthur Hiller. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Colour, 1966, 100 mins.