The Parent Trap (1961 film)

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The Parent Trap
Parent trap (1961).jpg
Theatrical release poster by Reynold Brown
Directed byDavid Swift
Produced byWalt Disney
George Golitzen
Written byDavid Swift
Based onLottie and Lisa
1949 novel
by Erich Kästner
StarringHayley Mills
Maureen O'Hara
Brian Keith
Music bySongs:
Richard M. Sherman
Robert B. Sherman
Paul J. Smith
CinematographyLucien Ballard
Edited byPhilip W. Anderson
Distributed byBuena Vista Distribution
Release date
  • June 21, 1961 (1961-06-21)
Running time
128 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$25.1 million

The Parent Trap is a 1961 Walt Disney Technicolor film.[1][2] It stars Hayley Mills (in a dual role), Maureen O'Hara and Brian Keith in a story about teenage twins on a quest to reunite their divorced parents. The screenplay by the film's director David Swift[3] was based upon the 1949 book Lottie and Lisa (German: Das Doppelte Lottchen) by Erich Kästner.[4] The Parent Trap was nominated for two Academy Awards, was broadcast on television, saw three television sequels, was remade in 1998 with Lindsay Lohan, and has been released on digital stereo LaserDisc format in 1986 as well as VHS and DVD in 2002. The original film was Mills' second of six films for Disney.


Identical twins Sharon McKendrick and Susan Evers (Hayley Mills) meet at Miss Inch's Summer Camp for Girls, unaware that they are sisters. Their identical appearance initially creates rivalry, and they pull pranks on each other, culminating in the camp dance being ruined. As punishment, Miss Inch decides that they must live together in the isolated "Serendipity" cabin (and eat together at an "Isolation Table") for the remainder of the camp season. After discovering that they both come from single-parent homes, they soon realize they are twin sisters and that their parents, Mitchell "Mitch" Evers (Brian Keith) and Margaret "Maggie" McKendrick (Maureen O'Hara), divorced shortly after their birth, with each parent having custody of one of them. The twins, each eager to meet the parent she never knew, decide to switch places. Susan gives Sharon a matching haircut and teaches her how to her bite her nails, and they also take a crash-course getting to know each other's personalities and character traits so as to fool the parents.

While Susan is in Boston at their grandparents' house pretending to be Sharon, Sharon goes to California to their father's house, pretending to be Susan. Sharon learns their father is engaged to a child-hating gold digger named Vicky Robinson (Joanna Barnes). Sharon calls Susan to tell her that their father is planning to marry Vicky, who is beautiful and dangerous, and that she must bring their mother to California immediately. Susan eventually reveals to their mother and grandparents the truth about their switching places. They are extremely happy to see Susan again, and Maggie and Susan fly to California. After Mitch and Maggie are reunited, they argue and the twins make their surprise appearance together. Mitch is extremely happy to see Sharon again, and after he tells Vicky the truth about the twins, she is shocked and furious — especially after learning that Maggie plans to spend the night at his house.

The girls recreate their parents' first date at the Italian restaurant Martinelli's with a gypsy violinist. The former spouses are gradually drawn together, but have another fight about why they divorced in the first place, with Maggie telling Mitch that she and Sharon are leaving in the morning, and that she wishes him the best of everything with Vicky. Susan and Sharon try to find a way to delay their return to Boston, so the twins dress and talk alike so their parents are unable to tell them apart. They will reveal who is who only after returning from the annual family camping trip. Mitch and Maggie reluctantly agree. Vicky is furious, so Maggie tricks her into taking her place and letting her know it would give her a chance to get to know the twins better.

Mitch is an outdoorsman, but Vicky is not, and she is not used to climbing mountains and being in the woods, so the twins decide to play tricks on her. Vicky spends her time swatting mosquitoes after unknowingly using sugared water instead of mosquito repellent. She is also awakened by two bear cubs licking honey, placed by the twins, off her feet. Exasperated, Vicky finally has a shouting tantrum, destroying everything in her path. The tantrum culminates in Vicky angrily slapping Susan, leaving Mitch with a whole new-found view of her. When Vicky escapes back to the city in a great huff, Mitch seems none too worried to be rid of her.

Back at the house, the twins apologize for what they did to Vicky, and are forgiven. Maggie makes dinner, and Mitch talks about what their life was like when they were married. They realize they still love each other, and do not want to grow into a couple of old and lonely people. They share a kiss, and decide to remarry.


Production notes[edit]

Production started under the title of We Belong Together.[6]

The film originally called for only a few trick photography shots of Hayley Mills in scenes with herself; the bulk of the film was to be shot using a body double. The film used Disney's proprietary sodium vapor process for compositing rather than the usual chroma key technique. When Walt Disney saw how seamless the processed shots were, he ordered the script reconfigured to include more of the special effect. Disney also wanted Mills to appear on camera as much as possible, knowing that she was having growth spurts during filming.

The film was shot mostly at various locales in California. The summer camp scenes were filmed at Bluff Lake Camp (then owned by the Pasadena YMCA, now by Habonim Dror's Camp Gilboa) and the family camping scenes later in the movie at Cedar Lake Camp, both in the San Bernardino Mountains near the city of Big Bear Lake in Southern California. The Monterey scenes were filmed in various California locations, including millionaire Stuyvesant Fish's 5,200 acres (21 km2) ranch in Carmel and Monterey's Pebble Beach golf course. The scenes at the Monterey house were shot at the studio's Golden Oak Ranch in Placerita Canyon, where Mitch's ranch was built.[7] It was the design of this set that proved the most popular, and to this day the Walt Disney Archives receives requests for plans of the home's interior design.[8] In fact, there never was such a house; the set was simply various rooms built on a sound stage. Camp Inch was based on a real girls' camp called Camp Crestridge for Girls at the Ridgecrest Baptist Conference Center near Asheville, North Carolina.

Musical numbers[edit]

Richard and Robert Sherman provided the songs, which, besides the title song "The Parent Trap", includes "For Now, For Always", and "Let's Get Together". "Let's Get Together" (sung by Annette Funicello) is heard playing from a record player at the summer camp; the tune is reprised by the twins when they restage their parents' first date and that version is sung double-tracked by Hayley Mills. (Hayley's own single of the song, credited to "Hayley Mills and Hayley Mills," reached #8 on the US charts.) The film's title song was performed by Tommy Sands and Annette Funicello, who were both on the studio lot shooting Babes in Toyland at the time.


Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote that "it should be most appealing to adults, as well as to children, because of the cheerfully persuasive dual performance of Hayley Mills."[9] Variety stated that the film was "absolutely predictable from the outset," but was still "a winner" thanks to the performance of Mills, who "seems to have an instinctive sense of comedy and an uncanny ability to react in just the right manner. Her contribution to the picture is virtually infinite."[10] Charles Stinson of the Los Angeles Times declared it "a comedy unusually well designed for the entire family — enough sight gags to keep the children screaming and enough clever dialogue to amuse their parents."[11] Harrison's Reports graded the film as "Very Good,"[2] and Richard L. Coe of The Washington Post called it "charmingly lively" even though "the terrain is familiar."[12]

The film currently holds a score of 90% on the review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes based on 20 reviews.[13]

Awards and nominations[edit]

The film was nominated for two Academy Awards: one for Sound by Robert O. Cook, and the other for Film Editing by Philip W. Anderson.[14] The film and its editor, Philip W. Anderson, won the inaugural 1962 Eddie Award of the American Cinema Editors.[15]

Subsequent developments[edit]

In 1961 a comic book version of the film was published, adapted and illustrated by Dan Spiegle.[16][17]

The film was theatrically re-released in 1968 and earned $1.8 million in rentals.[18]

The Disney Studios produced three television sequels The Parent Trap II (1986), Parent Trap III (1989) and Parent Trap: Hawaiian Honeymoon (1989). The original was remade in 1998 starring Lindsay Lohan, Dennis Quaid and Natasha Richardson. Joanna Barnes also made an appearance as Vicki, the mother of Dennis Quaid's character's fiancée, Meridith. Vicki is the same name as Barnes' character in the 1961 film, hinting at the fate of her original character. In February 2018, it was reported that another remake of The Parent Trap is in development for Walt Disney Studios' upcoming streaming service Disney+.[19]

In India, there have been several films inspired by The Parent Trap. In 1965, a Tamil language version of the story called Kuzhandaiyum Deivamum, starring Kutty Padmini was released. The following year, it was remade into Telugu as Leta Manasulu also starring Kutty Padmini. A Hindi version Do Kaliyaan starring Neetu Singh in the double role was made in 1968.[20] The 1987 film Pyar Ke Kabil also has a similar storyline, as does the 2001 film Kuch Khatti Kuch Meethi which has Kajol playing the double role of 23-year-old twins.[21]

Home media DVD and Blu-ray[edit]

The film was released on a 2-disc special edition DVD in 2005. Also enclosed in this package is the made-for-television sequel, The Parent Trap II (1986), plus the original film trailer and other bonus features.

Blu-ray release: On April 24, 2018, The Parent Trap (1961) was released on HD Blu-ray by the Disney Movie Club. The 1998 remake was also released on HD Blu-ray the same day. [22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Variety film review; May 3, 2005, page 26.
  2. ^ a b Harrison's Reports film review; May 6, 1961, page 70.
  3. ^ "The Parent Trap". Turner Classic Movies. Atlanta: Turner Broadcasting System (Time Warner). Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  4. ^ Kästner, Erich (2015). Lottie and Lisa (Reissue ed.). New York City: Lizzie Skurnick Books. ISBN 978-1939601339.
  5. ^ Hoffmann, Barbara (22 March 2018). "Finally, a well-adjusted Disney child star". New York Post. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  6. ^ BY WAY OF REPORT By A.H. WEILER. New York Times 4 Sep 1960: 79.
  7. ^ "History: A Movie Ranch Like No Other". Retrieved 2013-04-14.
  8. ^ "Disney Movies & Facts".[self-published source]
  9. ^ Crowther, Bosley (June 22, 1961). "Hayley Mills Plays 2 Roles in Comedy". The New York Times. 23.
  10. ^ "Film Reviews: The Parent Trap". Variety. May 3, 1961. 26.
  11. ^ Stinson, Charles (June 26, 1961). "'The Parent Trap' Fun for the Entire Family". Los Angeles Times. Part IV, p. 9.
  12. ^ Coe, Richard L. (July 11, 1961). "TRULY Plural Is Haley [sic] Mills". The Washington Post. B8.
  13. ^ "The Parent Trap". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 14, 2019.
  14. ^ "The 34th Academy Awards (1962) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-08-22.
  15. ^ "The Parent Trap" – via
  16. ^ Walt Disney's the parent trap. 1210. Adapted and illustrated by Dan Spiegle. New York: Dell. 1961. LCCN sv97025407.CS1 maint: others (link)
  17. ^ Friedman, Drew (9 November 2016). More Heroes of the Comics: Portraits of the Legends of Comic Books. Fantagraphics Books. p. 174. ISBN 978-1-60699-960-8.
  18. ^ "Big Rental Films of 2010", Variety, 7 January 2011 p 15
  19. ^ "Disney Planning Another 'Muppets' Reboot for Its Streaming Service (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. February 21, 2018. Retrieved February 26, 2018.
  20. ^ Guy, Randor (30 June 2011). "Kuzhandaiyum Deivamum 1965". The Hindu. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  21. ^ Nahta, Komal (January 30, 2001). "Rishi's khatta experience!". Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  22. ^

External links[edit]