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|Index||75 reviews in total|
"Family" movies usually make me cringe. Saccharine plots, cloying kiddie
actors, goopy dialogue...no, thank you! But "The Parent Trap" succeeds
admirably as both children-friendly fare and reasonably witty, sophisticated
The high-class production values don't hurt, and neither does the superb cast, right down to the character roles. The ever-dependable Una Merkel is a gem as the smart-talking maid, having lost none of her streetwise timing since her brassy blonde days in the 1930's. Charlie Ruggles is extraordinarily lovable as the grandfather, and Cathleen Nesbitt plays wonderfully against type as the domineering grandmother. Leo G. Carroll once again benefits a film simply by his appearance, and even Nancy "Miss Hathaway" Kulp is on board as a butch camp counselor (quite a stretch).
Of course, at the heart of it all, is the bravura performance of Hayley Mills as twins Susan and Sharon. She's never revoltingly sweet--there's a winning streak of spice in her personality that separates her from all other child stars. Plus, her kicky pre-Beatles British accent and snub-nosed beauty lend her a more worldly air than her contemporaries.
The ravishing Maureen O'Hara, in one of her last major roles as the twins' mother, Maggie, begins the film as a nondescript cipher, but her glamorous metamorphosis in the latter half of the film shows just how funny and sexy she can be. Mitch, the twins' father, is played by the ruggedly handsome Brian Keith, who generates the right mixture of roughneck toughness and paternal warmth.
And the criminally-overlooked Joanna Barnes plays Vicki, the predatory golddigger looking to sink her claws into Mitch. Vicki's verbal duels with Maggie and the twins are surprisingly catty for a children's film, and delivered with perfect villainy.
The very 1961 flourishes are priceless: the hopelessly tone-deaf Tommy Sands and Annette Funicello "singing" the theme song; the "formal" dance, with the girls all decked out in crinolines and laces; Susan plastering her bungalow wall with pictures of her favorite pin up boys (Rick Nelson!); and, my personal favorites, Sharon and Susan showing each other their parents' photos: hyper-posed, glamorous Hollywood 8x10 glossies!
The plot actually plays like a highly sanitized Rock Hudson/Doris Day bedroom farce, except that Susan and Sharon direct the course of action. You know what the ending will be even before you watch the movie, but it doesn't really matter. This is a delicious bon-bon of a flick, as irresistible to adults as to their children.
The Parent Trap is one of those ageless family movies. It
light-hearted and filled with down-to-earth humor. Without
a doubt you will see this listed as one of those Disney
This is a must see for the whole family but especially for those children with the vivid imagination.
Although the split-screen technique had been around for a decade or so,
it was usually more noted for its failures than its success, and the
actor required to play dual roles usually took tremendous heat for
their failure to create two physically identical but distinctly
different characterizations on screen. But with THE PARENT TRAP, with
the difficult dual role resting on the shoulders of an extremely young
star, Walt Disney struck gold. It would be the single highest grossing
film the studio had released up to that time, and even some forty years
later the baby-boomers who flocked to see it in 1961 regard it as one
of their favorite movie experiences.
But THE PARENT TRAP has a lot more going for it than mere nostalgia. The cast is really, really good, featuring the ever-likable Maureen O'Hara and Brian Keith in leading roles and a host of great character actors (including Leo G. Carroll and Nancy Kulp) in minor roles. And then there is Haley Mills. The daughter and sister of noted English actors, Mills was no newcomer to the screen when THE PARENT TRAP went before the cameras--she had even picked up an Oscar for her earlier Disney film POLLYANNA. Even so, this was no guarantee that she could pull off the feat of double roles, something that had daunted even the legendary Bette Davis. But she did.
The story has been told so often that surely every one knows it by now. A wife delivers twin daughters--but shortly afterward divorces her husband, and each wins custody of one child. The children are raised without any knowledge of each other's existence... until they unexpectedly bump into each other at summer camp, put two and two together, and devise a scheme to get their parents back together again.
Even today, and in spite of its familiarity, it's an amusing idea, and while the actual script is weak in spots the cast, and especially Haley Mills, makes the most of it. There's plenty of slapstick, lots of laugh-out-loud scenes, and enough charm to beguile all but the most cynical viewers. And Haley Mills clearly demonstrates why she was regarded as the single most gifted child actor of her era: although she plays both Susan and Sharon with the same edge of mischievous fun, they do indeed come off as completely different personalities.
Of course, digital technology has left the old split-screen technique in the dust, and today its easy to see the flaws in the technique that weren't so obvious at the time. And the quality of the film transfer is not the best: while this isn't the worst transfer I've seen, it is full of artifacts nonetheless. Even so, the appeal of the story, the cast, and most particularly Haley Mills make up for a lot, and this Disney double DVD comes complete with a host of bonuses (including a making-of documentary and an audio commentary track by director David Swift and Haley Mills) that fans will enjoy quite a bit.
If you were a fan of the film then, you'll remain a fan of it now. And if you want to introduce your family to a truly charming movie experience, you couldn't make a better choice.
Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
Hayley Mills does a spectacular job playing twins Sharon and Susan who are split up at birth and then reunited at summer camp. Of course they plan to reunite their divorced parents before a new woman can get her hands on their father! It's not hard to see why this film has remained popular, Mills, O'Hara, and Keith all are wonderful, and even if the story isn't the most believable it is perfectly suited for younger viewers. Forget the 1998 remake, stick with the original.
I love the movie, always have. But then, why wouldn't I? Brian Keith
and Maureen O'Hara, and Hayley Mills? Excellent cast. My parents took
me to see this movie when I was a kid -- [I was born in 1955] so I
wasn't too old and I totally loved it. I own the VHS and will probably
have to buy the DVD, if I can find it.
Joanna Barnes is the woman you love to hate -- god wasn't she just wicked and terrible in this movie? You just hate her!!! Calling Hayley - pet, in that exaggerated way. UGH!
Brian Keith, god I just loved this man! Loved him in Family Affair too! Always such a good actor. [Some other favorites; Those Calloways, The Pleasure Seekers, Nevada Smith, and especially, With Six you get Eggroll.] Maureen O'Hara, what a wonderful actress. I loved her in this movie, but then love her in any and everything she's done really [some other favorites are; McLintock! and Spencer's Mountain].
Cute, cute movie.
This movie always brings me back to my childhood days, it is perfect for whenever I feel nostaglic! This version is WAY better than the 1998 remake, for the remake is too silly and cheesy (at least for me!) I always enjoy this movie, and feel good at the end because I have traveled back in time to my younger days. I hope my children will feel the same in the near future. **** out of ****
This is one of the best Disney movies ever made. It is funny, warm, and it is something everybody can enjoy. To watch this in the twenty first century is a wonderful trip back in time. This movie is very 60's, but that does not make it out of date, the tricks and gags are timeless. I loved this movie when I saw it for the first time many years ago. Therefore, when the new 1998 remake came out, I had to see that too. The new one is also sweet and warm, but the original version is the best. If you see this version first and then all or some of the new afterwards (as I tried, for fun, one was on TV and I have the other on DVD), the new one reveals itself as being superficial and a bit cheasy compared to the original.
This movie is one of the best sixties one out there. It is much better
the 1998 version. Haley Mills plays both characters to perfection (as
always), and it has a great plot with unexpected twists and turns. You
really should see this!!!
I loved the parent trap. I think that it is an excellent family movie. Too bad that we can't get back to good family movies such as this one. The only thing is that I couldn't figure out who I liked best Susan or Sharon.
Part of the joy of Christmas is all the surprises that come with it.
What neat things will I find in my stocking as I sneak downstairs to
look in it? What will be in the next present that I open? Will I or
won't I glimpse Santa sneaking around my living room? The greatest
surprise of all is realizing that the little babe born in the manger is
really the creator of the cosmos and of the very manger he is sleeping
The Parent Trap is like Christmas. It brings smiles, joys and surprises. Imagine going away to summer camp when you discover someone who looks exactly like you standing in the lunch line. Who are they? And why do they have your face? You mean we have the same birthday? You mean we have the same parents? WERE SIBLINGS!!! What would you do in a situation like this? Why switch places with your newly discovered sibling of course.
This film has as much intrigue as a James Bond film and as much mystery as an Agatha Christie novel, as the twins plot to get their divorced parents back together. It's great to have a film so blatantly say 'Divorce Really Sucks (the life out of families) And the Sixth Sense style surprises continue to show up throughout the film as the parents and those in the households on each side of the continent realize that the person they thought was one twin really was the other one.
Sometimes when the revelation is revealed in a story, the interest level seems to flatten in the storyline, but not in this film. It maintains a high level of interest throughout the film. It's also interesting to note that in that the high quality special effects that were used in the picture were done in an age before computers were as sophisticated as they are today. It is really convincing that there are two Hayley Mills on the screen at the same time. I once did shot the same person on tape using two different hair styles and made it look like she was talking to herself as a different person. It's way cool to do if you know how to do that sort of thing. I also shot myself doing the 'Who's on First' routine.
The movie has few flaws if any. At times I had trouble telling the two characters apart but that may be me and is not enough to mention as a real flaw. Some of the characters smoke cigarettes in plain view of children. I mean the horror of it. Overall I think cigarettes stink and are bad for children but I am not a smoking Nazi who would sponge all cigarettes from older films. There are some who would actually do this.
Another neat little thing is how they talk about sexuality without actually talking about it. The innocence of a family friendly film is still intact with the reality of the meaning of sexuality and martial love weaved into the seams of the film. All of the actors are a delight to spend two hours with especially Hayley and the guy who played the minister. You also get to witness Hayley kicking the crap out of herself. It's rare you see a good girl fight on film. It's sexist that only men kick the crap out of each other and never women.
Part of the reason I loved this film as much as I did in my reviewing of it, is because I was impressed and pleased that Disney could produce such a high quality, mature looking film. This film is not just good for Disney, its' a good film in general. Any Disney slapstick happens as a result of the story and not as a result to just get laughs.
This is not worth a rental, it's worth buying and keeping and sharing with loved ones. Rent it by all means if you don't have the money to buy it. This film is Pure Movie Magic. Disney Gold: A warning: Don't be tempted to watch the sequel that is on the same DVD disc, it's bad as the original is good. If the original is Charismas, the sequel is Tax Day eve.
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