The Parent Trap - 1961

The Parent Trap - Released June 21, 1961. Directed by David Swift

As the beginning credits roll out at the start of this Disney film, we see actress Hayley Mills listed twice, and since she is playing two separate girls who interact, fight and then eventually become coconspirators in a plot to force divorced parents back together, it makes perfect sense. One girl lives in California on a ranch with her father (Brian Keith) and the other in a blue-blood mansion in Boston with the mother (Maureen O'Hara).

Hayley Mills meets herself by accident at "Camp Inch" during summer vacation, soon discovers that her twin (played by herself) is her sister, and with each one intrigued by the new awareness of a parent they have never known, the two switch identities, going home to a different parent under the assumed name of the other girl. This provides plenty of comedy, but at the heart of the film is Walt Disney's theme of divorce as pain, and though Hayley Mills blurts out at one point "soon there will be more divorces than marriages!" her character(s) eventually stop being observers and get right down to the main complaint "I've been gypped."

Brian Keith (as Mitch Evers) is scheduled to marry a younger woman in California and is already meeting with the minister (a jocular Leo G. Carroll as Rev. Dr. Mosby) to plan the impending event. This has to be sabotaged quickly by Hayley if the end result of a reunified family is going to be obtained by the end of our story, and so the two girls get to work.

Joanna Barnes as the younger woman (Vicky Robinson) makes this task relatively a simple one. She is teaming with her mother in a separate plot to grab half of Evers money and property, the two chortling in private about California's wonderful "community property" laws, and the script by director David Swift pits the twins' plot against the scheme of Vicky and her mother. In between is Maureen O'Hara and Brian Keith, and though Maureen (as Maggie McKendrick) picks up on what is happening quickly and starts to play along, the father remains nearly oblivious, pummeled from one scene to the next, as the twins use a disaster-prone camping trip to force Vicky to expose her real motivations.

Director Swift lets us see quite a bit of beautifully scenic coastal California as the 129 minutes unroll, and all of the adult actors give a nice comedic patina to the story, but the star of this movie are the two hardworking Haley Mills.

AMAZON STREAMING and DVD: The Parent Trap (1961)

Original Page February 9, 2017 | Updated March 2018

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