One Way Pendulum (1964): Peter (Bullitt) Yates’ British Farce

One Way Pendulum, an early film from Peter Yates, who later became known for directing Bullitt, is a British farce about the misadventures of an eccentric suburban family.  It is adapted to the screen by N.F. Simpson from his own play, which was originally staged at the Royal Court Theater.

One Way Pendulum
"One Way Pendulum" (1964 film).jpg

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Mr. Groomkirby (Eric Sykes) is redecorating his living room to resemble the courtrooms at Old Bailey, planning to stage mock trials. His wife, Mrs. Groomkirby (Alison Leggatt) hates to see leftovers wasted, so she hires a woman to eat them. Their daughter Sylvia (Julia Foster) is fascinated by primates and spends much of her time at the zoo, while their son teaches his weighing machines to sing in the bathroom.

Initially, this absurdist farce, Yates’ second feature, was poorly received by critics . Too verbose and too theatrical (even by standards of its time,) the movie is sharply uneven, but it contains some funny situations and it is peppered by a large ensemble of excellent British thespians.


Directed by Peter Yates
Produced by Michael Deeley, Oscar Lewenstein
Written by N. F. Simpson, based on One Way Pendulum by N. F. Simpson
Music by Richard Rodney Bennett
Cinematography Denys N. Coop
Edited by Peter Taylor

Production company: Woodfall Film Productions

Distributed by United Artists

Release date: January 21, 1965

Running time: 90 minutes

Cheers to TCM, which showed the comedy on June 15, 2015.