Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

THE PARENT TRAP (1961)

Hayley Mills meets Hayley Mills
THE PARENT TRAP (1961). Director: David Swift. Walt Disney Studios.

"You must bring mother to California. Boston is no place to rekindle a romance."

Two girls at a summer camp named Sharon and Suzie (Hayley Mills) look exactly alike. Initially hating each other, they eventually become friends, compare notes, and discover they are sisters raised on separate coasts. The two decide to switch places so they can each get to know the parent the other one lives with. When it develops that their father Mitch (Brian Keith) is about to get remarried, they contrive to rekindle a romance between him and their mother, Margaret (Maureen O'Hara). The film starts badly with a horrible title tune sung not at all well by Tommy Sands and Annette Funicello, but the opening scenes in camp are very funny. Hayley Mills reminds everyone that she was one of the most talented child stars ever. Brian Keith and Maureen O'Hara make a good team, even if Keith is a more natural actor; O'Hara looks stunning. Joanna Barnes and Linda Watkins are the scheming fiancee, Vicky, and her overbearing mother, Edna; Cathleen Nesbitt and Charlie Ruggles, the maternal grandparents -- all are fine. Ruth McDevitt is fun as the dithery head of the summer camp, Miss Inch, and Nancy Kulp appears briefly as a counselor. Una Merkle plays Mitch's housekeeper, Verbena, and Leo G. Carroll, a few years before The Man from U.N.C.L.E., has a very amusing turn as the reverend Dr. Mosby. The most hilarious scene occurs when Margaret meets Vicky and her mother for the first time and mischievously confuses the two of them. At over two hours, this is a little overlong, but entertaining for the most part. However, the plot and its holes will not hold up to much scrutiny [why not tell the girls they have a sister, for instance?] The girls perform the snappy "Let's Get Together." Mills starred in the very different Twisted Nerve seven years later.

Verdict: Amiable Disney comedy with some good performances. ***. 

2 comments:

dj Buddy Beaverhausen said...

Hayley Mills certainly was among the child stars with both talent and charm, unlike so many.

William said...

True, some child stars are a little too precious. And potty-mouthed, the li'l darlings, LOL!