The Parent Trap


2h 4m 1961
The Parent Trap

Brief Synopsis

Twins separated by divorce plot to bring their parents back together.

Film Details

Also Known As
Petticoats and Bluejeans
MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Romance
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1961
Premiere Information
New York opening: 21 Jun 1961
Production Company
Walt Disney Productions
Distribution Company
Buena Vista Distribution Co., Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Das doppelte Lottchen by Erich Kästner (Vienna, 1949).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 4m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.75 : 1

Synopsis

Sharon McKendrick and Susan Evers are identical twins whose parents were divorced when the girls were infants. Sharon has lived with her mother, Maggie, while Susan has lived with her father, Mitch; neither knows of the other's existence. Now, after 14 years, the twins are accidentally reunited when they are sent to the same summer camp. They take an initial dislike to each other (Sharon is a proper Bostonian while Susan is a rowdy Californian), but before long they discover their relationship, and as the summer progresses they become close friends. They decide to get their parents together again, and when camp is over, they switch places in order that each may meet the parent she has never known. Neither parent is aware of the deception until Sharon learns their father is planning to marry a conniving gold digger, Victoria Robinson. The two children then reveal their true identities and force Maggie to bring Susan back to her California home. In their efforts to get rid of their father's fiancée, the girls enlist Maggie's aid and then proceed to make life so miserable for Victoria that she abandons all thoughts of marrying Mitch. Goaded on by the scheming youngsters, Mitch and Maggie resolve their marital differences and decide to make a second trip to the altar.

Photo Collections

The Parent Trap - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for Disney's The Parent Trap (1961). One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.

Videos

Movie Clip

Promo

Film Details

Also Known As
Petticoats and Bluejeans
MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Romance
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1961
Premiere Information
New York opening: 21 Jun 1961
Production Company
Walt Disney Productions
Distribution Company
Buena Vista Distribution Co., Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Das doppelte Lottchen by Erich Kästner (Vienna, 1949).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 4m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.75 : 1

Award Nominations

Best Editing

1961

Best Sound

1961

Articles

The Parent Trap (1961)


One of the Baby Boomers' most fondly remembered Disney live-action films, The Parent Trap (1961) offers double the pleasure of British teen sensation Hayley Mills. She plays identical twins whose parents divorced when the girls were infants, each parent taking one of the twins. Sharon has been raised by her mother (Maureen O'Hara) in Boston, and Susan by her father (Brian Keith) in California. The girls are unaware of each other's existences until they meet at camp. They switch places to get to know the parents they've never met, then conspire to re-unite the estranged couple.

Mills had made an impressive movie debut in the British film Tiger Bay (1959) at the age of 13, playing alongside her father, British star John Mills. Walt Disney saw that film, and immediately put Hayley under contract, giving her the title role in Pollyanna (1960). The film made Mills a star, and earned her a special Oscar® for her performance. The Parent Trap was Mills' follow-up to Pollyanna, and was even more successful.

The scenes of the twins interacting were filmed in two ways. One was with over-the-shoulder and long shots using a double for Mills. The other was by using double exposure process shots when both twins were seen side-by-side facing the camera. The original plan had been to use mostly the latter process, which was complicated and difficult to do in those pre-computer days. Director David Swift and cinematographer Lucien Ballard preferred working with the double, Susan Henning, and although they shot the double exposure scenes, they initially used very few of them in the edited film. But in an interview in Leonard Maltin's The Disney Films, Ballard claimed that "Walt made me put some of the trick shots back because he...liked technical things." In truth, the trick shots were so well done, and Mills's performance was so good and so specific and different for each character, that those shots were very effective. Henning's "performance" was also very well done, and though her contract stipulated that she would not receive screen credit, at the wrap party for the film Walt Disney presented her with a statue of Donald Duck, called the "Duckster," for "best unseen performance." Henning did have a minor career as an actress, including a bit part in the Elvis Presley movie, Live a Little, Love a Little (1968).

Brian Keith had been playing cops, cowboys, and other tough guys for a decade when he played his first romantic comedy lead in The Parent Trap. It was the beginning of a new phase of Keith's career, which included leads in romantic and family comedies such as With Six You Get Eggroll (1968), opposite Doris Day. It also included a very successful comedy series, Family Affair (1966-71), in which Keith played the comically befuddled guardian of three young orphans.

The Parent Trap also came at a crucial time in Maureen O'Hara's career. She had been a top star in the 1940s and 50s. But in 1957, the scandal magazine Confidential published a scurrilous and false story that she'd been spotted having sex in the balcony of Grauman's Chinese theater. She sued the magazine and won, but the protracted legal battle and bad publicity had halted her career. She had recently made a comeback in the prestigious and well-received British film, Our Man in Havana (1959) when the offer came from Disney to star in The Parent Trap. Although O'Hara loved the script and needed the work, she was reluctant to accept the role because Disney was offering her only a third of her customary salary. O'Hara held firm, and Disney capitulated, giving her the salary she demanded but she did not win another battle, over billing. Her contract stipulated that no other actress would be billed above her, but Disney wanted to exploit Hayley Mills's popularity, so she was billed -- twice, as "Hayley Mills and Hayley Mills" -- above the title, with O'Hara and Keith given starring billing below the title. In her autobiography, O'Hara claims she wanted to sue, but "Mr. Disney had sent me a message through the grapevine, and it was startlingly clear: 'Sue me and I'll destroy you.'" She did not sue, but she never worked for Disney again. O'Hara also claimed that a few years later, she pitched Disney the idea of a film version of the book Mary Poppins with her in the lead, which was rejected. Soon after, Disney purchased the rights to the book, and made a very popular film with Julie Andrews in the title role.

In spite of those issues, O'Hara enjoyed working on The Parent Trap, and was impressed by Mills's talent and dedication. She observed how hard Mills worked on her American accent, and how well she developed the characters of the two girls. "It got quite confusing, and even Hayley only knew which girl she was playing by which wig she was wearing. She hated wearing those wigs and thought the short one made her look like Laurence Olivier in Hamlet," O'Hara wrote.

Mills also displayed another talent in The Parent Trap. The song that the twins sing in the film, "Let's Get Together," was actually performed by Mills, who had a pop hit with her recording of the song. The title song in the film was sung by Annette Funicello and Tommy Sands, who were filming Babes in Toyland (1961) on the Disney lot at the time.

Critics agreed that Mills was something special. According to the New York Times, the film "should be most appealing to parents as well as to children, because of the cheerfully persuasive dual performances of Hayley Mills." Time magazine called it "delightful," and the Sunday London Times compared Mills to Mary Pickford. Over the next few years, Mills made several more films for Disney, none as successful as The Parent Trap, before leaving the studio in 1965 to pursue more varied roles. In the mid-1980s, she reprised her The Parent Trap characters as adults in a sequel for the Disney Channel, Parent Trap II (1986). Two more TV sequels followed, but none matched the charm of the original. Neither did a 1998 remake, starring Lindsay Lohan as the twins.

Director: David Swift
Screenplay: David Swift; Erich Kastner (book "Das Doppelte Lottchen")
Cinematography: Lucien Ballard
Art Direction: Carroll Clark, Robert Clatworthy
Music: Paul Smith
Film Editing: Philip W. Anderson
Cast: Hayley Mills (Sharon McKendrick/Susan Evers), Maureen O'Hara (Margaret 'Maggie' McKendrick), Brian Keith (Mitch Evers), Charlie Ruggles (Charles McKendrick), Una Merkel (Verbena), Leo G. Carroll (Rev. Dr. Mosby), Joanna Barnes (Vicky Robinson), Cathleen Nesbitt (Louise McKendrick), Ruth McDevitt (Miss Inch), Crahan Denton (Hecky), Linda Watkins (Edna Robinson), Nancy Kulp (Miss Grunecker).
C-129m. Closed captioning.

by Margarita Landazuri
The Parent Trap (1961)

The Parent Trap (1961)

One of the Baby Boomers' most fondly remembered Disney live-action films, The Parent Trap (1961) offers double the pleasure of British teen sensation Hayley Mills. She plays identical twins whose parents divorced when the girls were infants, each parent taking one of the twins. Sharon has been raised by her mother (Maureen O'Hara) in Boston, and Susan by her father (Brian Keith) in California. The girls are unaware of each other's existences until they meet at camp. They switch places to get to know the parents they've never met, then conspire to re-unite the estranged couple. Mills had made an impressive movie debut in the British film Tiger Bay (1959) at the age of 13, playing alongside her father, British star John Mills. Walt Disney saw that film, and immediately put Hayley under contract, giving her the title role in Pollyanna (1960). The film made Mills a star, and earned her a special Oscar® for her performance. The Parent Trap was Mills' follow-up to Pollyanna, and was even more successful. The scenes of the twins interacting were filmed in two ways. One was with over-the-shoulder and long shots using a double for Mills. The other was by using double exposure process shots when both twins were seen side-by-side facing the camera. The original plan had been to use mostly the latter process, which was complicated and difficult to do in those pre-computer days. Director David Swift and cinematographer Lucien Ballard preferred working with the double, Susan Henning, and although they shot the double exposure scenes, they initially used very few of them in the edited film. But in an interview in Leonard Maltin's The Disney Films, Ballard claimed that "Walt made me put some of the trick shots back because he...liked technical things." In truth, the trick shots were so well done, and Mills's performance was so good and so specific and different for each character, that those shots were very effective. Henning's "performance" was also very well done, and though her contract stipulated that she would not receive screen credit, at the wrap party for the film Walt Disney presented her with a statue of Donald Duck, called the "Duckster," for "best unseen performance." Henning did have a minor career as an actress, including a bit part in the Elvis Presley movie, Live a Little, Love a Little (1968). Brian Keith had been playing cops, cowboys, and other tough guys for a decade when he played his first romantic comedy lead in The Parent Trap. It was the beginning of a new phase of Keith's career, which included leads in romantic and family comedies such as With Six You Get Eggroll (1968), opposite Doris Day. It also included a very successful comedy series, Family Affair (1966-71), in which Keith played the comically befuddled guardian of three young orphans. The Parent Trap also came at a crucial time in Maureen O'Hara's career. She had been a top star in the 1940s and 50s. But in 1957, the scandal magazine Confidential published a scurrilous and false story that she'd been spotted having sex in the balcony of Grauman's Chinese theater. She sued the magazine and won, but the protracted legal battle and bad publicity had halted her career. She had recently made a comeback in the prestigious and well-received British film, Our Man in Havana (1959) when the offer came from Disney to star in The Parent Trap. Although O'Hara loved the script and needed the work, she was reluctant to accept the role because Disney was offering her only a third of her customary salary. O'Hara held firm, and Disney capitulated, giving her the salary she demanded but she did not win another battle, over billing. Her contract stipulated that no other actress would be billed above her, but Disney wanted to exploit Hayley Mills's popularity, so she was billed -- twice, as "Hayley Mills and Hayley Mills" -- above the title, with O'Hara and Keith given starring billing below the title. In her autobiography, O'Hara claims she wanted to sue, but "Mr. Disney had sent me a message through the grapevine, and it was startlingly clear: 'Sue me and I'll destroy you.'" She did not sue, but she never worked for Disney again. O'Hara also claimed that a few years later, she pitched Disney the idea of a film version of the book Mary Poppins with her in the lead, which was rejected. Soon after, Disney purchased the rights to the book, and made a very popular film with Julie Andrews in the title role. In spite of those issues, O'Hara enjoyed working on The Parent Trap, and was impressed by Mills's talent and dedication. She observed how hard Mills worked on her American accent, and how well she developed the characters of the two girls. "It got quite confusing, and even Hayley only knew which girl she was playing by which wig she was wearing. She hated wearing those wigs and thought the short one made her look like Laurence Olivier in Hamlet," O'Hara wrote. Mills also displayed another talent in The Parent Trap. The song that the twins sing in the film, "Let's Get Together," was actually performed by Mills, who had a pop hit with her recording of the song. The title song in the film was sung by Annette Funicello and Tommy Sands, who were filming Babes in Toyland (1961) on the Disney lot at the time. Critics agreed that Mills was something special. According to the New York Times, the film "should be most appealing to parents as well as to children, because of the cheerfully persuasive dual performances of Hayley Mills." Time magazine called it "delightful," and the Sunday London Times compared Mills to Mary Pickford. Over the next few years, Mills made several more films for Disney, none as successful as The Parent Trap, before leaving the studio in 1965 to pursue more varied roles. In the mid-1980s, she reprised her The Parent Trap characters as adults in a sequel for the Disney Channel, Parent Trap II (1986). Two more TV sequels followed, but none matched the charm of the original. Neither did a 1998 remake, starring Lindsay Lohan as the twins. Director: David Swift Screenplay: David Swift; Erich Kastner (book "Das Doppelte Lottchen") Cinematography: Lucien Ballard Art Direction: Carroll Clark, Robert Clatworthy Music: Paul Smith Film Editing: Philip W. Anderson Cast: Hayley Mills (Sharon McKendrick/Susan Evers), Maureen O'Hara (Margaret 'Maggie' McKendrick), Brian Keith (Mitch Evers), Charlie Ruggles (Charles McKendrick), Una Merkel (Verbena), Leo G. Carroll (Rev. Dr. Mosby), Joanna Barnes (Vicky Robinson), Cathleen Nesbitt (Louise McKendrick), Ruth McDevitt (Miss Inch), Crahan Denton (Hecky), Linda Watkins (Edna Robinson), Nancy Kulp (Miss Grunecker). C-129m. Closed captioning. by Margarita Landazuri

Quotes

That's how true love creates its beautiful agony. All splendid lovers have just dreadful times! Uh, Peleus and Melicent... Daphnis and Chloe... History's just jammed with stories of lovers parted by some silly thing!
- Sharon McKendrick
Congratulations. In the history of this camp, that was the most infamous, the most disgusting, the most revolting display of hooliganism we have ever had.
- Miss Inch
Oh yes! Don't say anything about that dear, sweet, precious Vicky! That plot-faced child bride and her electric hips!!
- Margaret 'Maggie' McKendrick
Do you want to know Father? And I'm just dying to know Mother. It might be so scary that we just might be able to pull it off.
- Susan Evers
Pull what off?
- Sharon McKendrick
Switch places!
- Susan Evers
Switch?
- Sharon McKendrick
We can do it. We're twins, aren't we? Oh, I'm just dying to know Mother! Look, now I'M getting goosebumps!
- Susan Evers

Trivia

The screenplay originally called for only a few trick photography shots of Hayley Mills (I) in scenes with herself; the bulk of the film was to be shot using a body double. When Walt Disney saw how seamless the processed shots were, he ordered the script reconfigured to include more of the special effect.

The title song was performed by Tommy Sands and Annette Funicello. They were on the lot shooting Babes in Toyland (1961).

Notes

Copyright length: 129 min. Location scenes filmed in Monterey and Boston. Working title: Petticoats and Bluejeans.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Summer June 1961

Released in USA on video as part of Walt Disney's Family Film Collection.

Released in USA on video.

Released in United States Summer June 1961