ⓘ The Parent Trap (1961 film)


ⓘ The Parent Trap (1961 film)

The Parent Trap is a 1961 Walt Disney Technicolor film directed by David Swift. It stars Hayley Mills, Maureen OHara and Brian Keith in a story about teenage twins on a quest to reunite their divorced parents. The screenplay by the films director David Swift was based upon the 1949 book Lottie and Lisa by Erich Kastner. The Parent Trap was nominated for two Academy Awards, was broadcast on television, saw three television sequels, was remade in 1998 with Lindsay Lohan, and has been released on digital stereo LaserDisc format in 1986 as well as VHS and DVD in 2002.

The Parent Trap was Hayley Millss second film in the series of six for Disney.


1. Plot

Identical twins Sharon McKendrick and Susan Evers Hayley Mills meet at Miss Inchs Summer Camp for Girls, unaware that they are sisters. Their identical appearance initially creates rivalry, and they pull pranks on each other, culminating in the camp dance being ruined. As punishment, Miss Inch decides that they must live together in the isolated "Serendipity" cabin and eat together at an "Isolation Table" for the remainder of the camp season. After discovering that they both come from single-parent homes, they soon realize they are twin sisters and that their parents, Mitchell "Mitch" Evers Brian Keith and Margaret "Maggie" McKendrick Maureen OHara, divorced shortly after their birth, with each parent having custody of one of them. The twins, each eager to meet the parent she never knew, decide to switch places. Susan gives Sharon a matching haircut and teaches her how to bite her nails, and they also take a crash-course getting to know each others personalities and character traits so as to fool the parents.

While Susan is in Boston at their grandparents house pretending to be Sharon, Sharon goes to California to their fathers house, pretending to be Susan. Sharon learns their father is engaged to a child-hating gold digger named Vicky Robinson Joanna Barnes. Sharon calls Susan to tell her that their father is planning to marry Vicky, who is beautiful and dangerous, and that she must bring their mother to California immediately. Susan eventually reveals to their mother and grandparents the truth about their switching places. They are extremely happy to see Susan again, and Maggie and Susan fly to California. After Mitch and Maggie are reunited, they argue and the twins make their surprise appearance together. Mitch is extremely happy to see Sharon again, and after he tells Vicky the truth about the twins, she is shocked and furious - especially after learning that Maggie plans to spend the night at his house.

The girls recreate their parents first date at the Italian restaurant Martinellis with a gypsy violinist. The former spouses are gradually drawn together, but have another fight about why they divorced in the first place, with Maggie telling Mitch that she and Sharon are leaving in the morning, and that she wishes him the best of everything with Vicky. Susan and Sharon try to find a way to delay their return to Boston, so the twins dress and talk alike so their parents are unable to tell them apart. They will reveal who is who only after returning from the annual family camping trip. Mitch and Maggie reluctantly agree. Vicky is furious, so Maggie tricks her into taking her place and letting her know it would give her a chance to get to know the twins better.

Mitch is an outdoorsman, but Vicky is not, and she is not used to climbing mountains and being in the woods, so the twins decide to play tricks on her. Vicky spends her time swatting mosquitoes after unknowingly using sugared water instead of mosquito repellent. She is also awakened by two bear cubs licking honey, placed by the twins, off her feet. Exasperated, Vicky finally has a shouting tantrum, destroying everything in her path. The tantrum culminates in Vicky angrily slapping Susan, leaving Mitch with a whole new-found view of her. When Vicky escapes back to the city in a great huff, Mitch seems none too worried to be rid of her.

Back at the house, the twins apologize for what they did to Vicky, and are forgiven. Maggie makes dinner, and Mitch talks about what their life was like when they were married. They realize they still love each other, and do not want to grow into a couple of old and lonely people. They share a kiss, and decide to remarry.


2. Cast

  • Frank De Vol as Mr. Eaglewood
  • Susan Henning as Sharon McKendrick/Susan Evers body double
  • Charlie Ruggles as Charles McKendrick
  • Leo G. Carroll as Reverend Dr. Mosby
  • Una Merkel as Verbena the housekeeper
  • Crahan Denton as Hecky the ranch foreman
  • Maureen OHara as Margaret "Maggie" McKendrick
  • Brian Keith as Mitchell "Mitch" Evers
  • Hayley Mills as Sharon McKendrick/Susan Evers
  • Linda Watkins as Edna Robinson
  • Nancy Kulp as Miss Grunecker
  • Joanna Barnes as Vicky Robinson
  • Ruth McDevitt as Miss Abbey Inch
  • Cathleen Nesbitt as Louise McKendrick

3. Production notes

The novel was discovered by Disneys story editor Bill Dover who recommended the studio buy it.

In March 1960 Disney announced that Hayley Mills would star in His and Hers to be written and directed by David Swift. Swift and Mills had just made Pollyanna for Disney. It was also known as Petticoats and Blue Jeans and was the first in a five-film contract Mills signed with Disney, to make one each summer.

Maureen OHara signed in June. She wrote in her memoirs that Disney offered her a third of her normal fee of $75.000 but that she held out for her quote and got it. OHara said her contract gave her top billing but that Disney decided to give that to Mills; she says this caused tension with the studio and was why she never worked with Disney again.

Production started in July under the title of We Belong Together and went until September.

The film originally called for only a few trick photography shots of Hayley Mills in scenes with herself; the bulk of the film was to be shot using a body double. The film used Disneys proprietary sodium vapor process for compositing rather than the usual chroma key technique. When Walt Disney saw how seamless the processed shots were, he ordered the script reconfigured to include more of the special effect. Disney also wanted Mills to appear on camera as much as possible, knowing that she was having growth spurts during filming.

The film was shot mostly at various locales in California. The summer camp scenes were filmed at Bluff Lake Camp then owned by the Pasadena YMCA, now by Habonim Drors Camp Gilboa and the family camping scenes later in the movie at Cedar Lake Camp, both in the San Bernardino Mountains near the city of Big Bear Lake in Southern California. The Monterey scenes were filmed in various California locations, including millionaire Stuyvesant Fishs 5.200 acres 21 km 2 ranch in Carmel and Montereys Pebble Beach golf course. The scenes at the Monterey house were shot at the studios Golden Oak Ranch in Placerita Canyon, where Mitchs ranch was built. It was the design of this set that proved the most popular, and to this day the Walt Disney Archives receives requests for plans of the homes interior design. In fact, there never was such a house; the set was simply various rooms built on a sound stage. Camp Inch was based on a real girls camp called Camp Crestridge for Girls at the Ridgecrest Baptist Conference Center near Asheville, North Carolina.


4. Musical numbers

Richard and Robert Sherman provided the songs, which, besides the title song "The Parent Trap", includes "For Now, For Always", and "Lets Get Together". "Lets Get Together" sung by Annette Funicello is heard playing from a record player at the summer camp; the tune is reprised by the twins when they restage their parents first date and that version is sung double-tracked by Hayley Mills. Hayleys own single of the song, credited to "Hayley Mills and Hayley Mills," reached #8 on the US charts. The films title song was performed by Tommy Sands and Annette Funicello, who were both on the studio lot shooting Babes in Toyland at the time.


5. Reception

Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote that "it should be most appealing to adults, as well as to children, because of the cheerfully persuasive dual performance of Hayley Mills." Variety stated that the film was "absolutely predictable from the outset," but was still "a winner" thanks to the performance of Mills, who "seems to have an instinctive sense of comedy and an uncanny ability to react in just the right manner. Her contribution to the picture is virtually infinite." Charles Stinson of the Los Angeles Times declared it "a comedy unusually well designed for the entire family - enough sight gags to keep the children screaming and enough clever dialogue to amuse their parents." Harrisons Reports graded the film as "Very Good," and Richard L. Coe of The Washington Post called it "charmingly lively" even though "the terrain is familiar."

The film currently holds a score of 90% on the review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes based on 20 reviews.


6. Awards and nominations

The film was nominated for two Academy Awards: one for Sound by Robert O. Cook, and the other for Film Editing by Philip W. Anderson. The film and its editor, Philip W. Anderson, won the inaugural 1962 Eddie Award of the American Cinema Editors.


7. Subsequent developments

In 1961 a comic book version of the film was published, adapted and illustrated by Dan Spiegle.

The film was theatrically re-released in 1968 and earned $1.8 million in rentals.

The Disney Studios produced three television sequels The Parent Trap II 1986, Parent Trap III 1989 and Parent Trap: Hawaiian Honeymoon 1989. The original was remade in 1998 starring Lindsay Lohan, Dennis Quaid and Natasha Richardson. Joanna Barnes also made an appearance as Vicki, the mother of Dennis Quaids characters fiancee, Meridith. Vicki is the same name as Barnes character in the 1961 film, hinting at the fate of her original character. In February 2018, it was reported that another remake of The Parent Trap is in development for Walt Disney Studios upcoming streaming service Disney+.

In India, there have been several films inspired by The Parent Trap. In 1965, a Tamil language version of the story called Kuzhandaiyum Deivamum, starring Kutty Padmini was released. The following year, it was remade into Telugu as Leta Manasulu also starring Kutty Padmini. A Hindi version Do Kaliyaan starring Neetu Singh in the double role was made in 1968. The 1987 film Pyar Ke Kabil also has a similar storyline, as does the 2001 film Kuch Khatti Kuch Meethi which has Kajol playing the double role of 23-year-old twins.


8. Home media DVD and Blu-ray

The film was released on a 2-disc special edition DVD in 2005. Also enclosed in this package is the made-for-television sequel, The Parent Trap II 1986, plus the original film trailer and other bonus features.

Blu-ray release: On April 24, 2018, The Parent Trap 1961 was released on HD Blu-ray by the Disney Movie Club. The 1998 remake was also released on HD Blu-ray the same day.

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