Identical twins Annie and Hallie, separated at birth and each raised by one of their biological parents, later discover each other for the first time at summer camp and make a plan to bring their wayward parents back together.
Inheriting a family resort in Hawaii, the Wyatts find it in such a run-down condition that they decide to sell it after trying to fix it up. Amidst confusing goings-on among the triplet ... See full summary »
Hayley Mills plays twins who, unknown to their divorced parents, meet at a summer camp. Products of single parent households, they switch places (surprise!) so as to meet the parent they never knew, and then contrive to reunite them.Written by
Stewart M. Clamen <email@example.com>
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
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