Hello and welcome back. Over the next two days, I’ll be taking a look at the The Parent Trap, the original starring Haley Mills and the TV sequel. So join me as I take a look at the original classic and for those wondering, I have seen the remake and I do like it. Matter of fact, I saw the remake first and I wanted to review that as well but let’s save that for another time.
Yeah, had to go with a TV spot this time around bu wow, is it vague. It barely mentions anything about the film other than the fact that Susan and Sharon don’t want their father to marry Vicki, who is well, a gold digger. Hey, that’s now the movie presents her. This TV spot seems to leave out one key element here in that the girls didn’t know each other before that were forced to spend time at camp together and that’s how they found they were sisters. I don’t know if that was a big deal in the film but the way this TV spot is played out, makes it seem as though it’s for a different film altogether.
I have to admit while I like the plot of the film, when it actually gets to the meat of the story, it feels as though the beginning of the film at the summer camp is from a different movie. It still fits within this film but it just seems less smooth a transition than one would hope for. Now the rest of the film is good and the old switcheroo does work nicely in getting the parents back together. Now I must say that I was taken aback at the fact that the twins were 13 in this version as I’m so used to the Lindsay Lohan version, where they’re only 11.
Now I’ll be breaking this down into Important, Supporting, & Villain. Although I should mention that I couldn’t find pictures for all the characters but nonetheless that will not stop this review.
Susan & Sharon both played by Hayley Mills
Now I must say that Hayley Mills did a fine job in dual role and while there was a difference between them, one was more outdoorsy and the other was preppy. Also I do think that the build up to the realization that they are sisters and the switch worked well. They were fun to watch and you really felt for them when they got to meet their parents that they had never known. In a way, it was a bit tragic but I was so happy when they got to see them but I have to bring up one thing that bugged me was the ending in how abrupt it was. Because big surprise, the parents do get back together or so you think because the final shot goes to the girls in their bedroom and one of them, I really can’t recall sorry says that she has a dream about the parents getting married and the final shot is of the wedding. Now the way this transition was done, made me think that the wedding was still part of the dream and that it was left open to view if the audience to decide if the wedding was real. That is what I thought but apparently, the wedding was real.
Mitch played by Brain Keith
Mitch is the girls’ father. He is a ranch hand in the original and you can see care about his daughters. Although, I have to wonder what he saw in Vicky because I honestly do believe that he had legitimate feelings for Vicky but I don’t believe that the feelings were mutual. Though of course, I was happy that he got back together with his wife in the end. I should also note that this was Brian Keith’s first role in a comedic film and from some of the reading, I’ve done there is a rumor circulating that John Wayne was almost cast as the father in this film.
Maggie played by Maureen O’ Hara
Maggie was most certainly the motherly type and jut as with Mitch cared for her daughters. Now I wouldn’t say they were standout characters but I did want to see them get back together and was so happy when they did. I have to say that the film was a little vague in why they broke up in the first place but that wasn’t the main focus of the story. Rather, it was about getting them back together.
Miss Inch played by Ruth McDevitt
Miss Inch was not in the film for long but she does play an important role in that she brings the twins together by forcing them to spend the rest of time and being forced into the isolation tent and this brings them together. Now I can’t be sure but I do think this was a scout possibly girl scout camp. I only make this observation because of the uniforms.
Grandma Louise played by Cathleen Nesbitt
Now the way, Sharon’s grandmother was talked about made me think that she lived with only her grandmother. Even though I knew that wasn’t the case before going into the film. Even though, we didn’t spend much time with her, you could tell that she was the matriarch of the house and ran it with an iron fist and you did not say no to her. At first, I found this annoying but after watching the film, I thought about this and realized that this the time that film takes place in.
Grandpa Charles played by Charles Ruggles
Grandpa Charles was one of the most likable characters in the film and to see the way, Louise belittled him and thought his opinions didn’t matter made me sympathize with him and when he finally stood up to her after Susan revealed who she really was and wanted to let Susan and Maggie have time alone and that he finally put his foot down and realized how important that time is for the two of them. A bit off-track but typing that out made me think of this song.
Verbena played by Una Merkel
Verbena was the house maid at the ranch that Mitch and Susan live at. She was a very fun character who was a bit nosy and even though that she said it wasn’t her place, you knew that she knew would stick her nose in where it didn’t belong and it was oh so clear that she disliked Vicky to the nth degree. She was one of the most enjoyable characters.
Hecky played by Crahan Denton
I have to say that I find Hecky to be the most forgettable out of all the characters. He’s not a bad character but he is overshadowed by the rest of the cast. He is perhaps the most reluctant to help Susan and Sharon get their parents back together. Although he was willing to dress up as a gypsy as seen here to help set the mood for Mitch and Maggie’s dinner date. He really didn’t have much of a choice as Verbena threatened not to make his dinner for the next month if he didn’t go along with the plan.
Edna played by Linda Watkins
Edna was Vicky’s mom and she seemed to be oblivious to the pranks that the girls were pulling on her daughter. Okay, there is something that I need to bring up. Most of the pranks that the girls play on Vicky are a bit harmless save for the last one, where they trash her tent. Now this is a callback to the first prank pulled at the summer camp when Susan thrashes Sharon’s tent. It’s a nice touch but as much as we as the audience we are supposed to despise Vicky, I think the girls overstepped a fine line here. But at the same time, I don’t think Vicky was any better in how she reacted. I’ll get to that some more, when I talk about her character.
I have to say that I’m highly impressed by these opening titles. I’m not certain but I think this was stop motion, I know the video says Cinemascope but the title feels as though it’s telling it’s own story with a beginning, a middle and an end. That is great and the song fits in well and it is a really fun song. Disney legend Annette Funicello and Tommy Sands are the ones singing. They were brought on to sing as they were at the studio lot filming Babes In Toyland at the time.
This is a very beautiful song. I enjoy it very much and it is so peaceful and quiet while at the same time grabbing your attention. Again, it works very well at describing the movie and the relationship of Mitch and Maggie.
Here we go. If anything, this film should be remembered for this song. It is a classic and while the sound isn’t perfect, it’s not bad. It is a fun listen and I’ve always liked this song. Though why is it that songs like this from the non-musical live action Disney films aren’t as remembered as say the music from Mary Poppins? Because they are just as fun. Honestly, I knew about this song and this scene long before I had seen the movie. Now there is one thing I should mention as much as I like the remake, the cover for the ’98 version just isn’t that good.
Vicky played by Joanna Barnes
Vicky is a character that I’m really torn upon because on the one hand, I get that the girls don’t want their dad to marry. But at the same time, I feel that the audience wasn’t given much reason to hate her at the beginning even though most of the characters hate her. Though of the film progresses, you see her nasty nature unfold but it’s not without reason as Sharon tricks her into thinking that Mitch is a ladies man. That’s not the case but still, in reality, the whole debacle was started by Sharon as she took an immediate dislike to Vicky. I get that but I don’t think there was enough backing there. Now yes, Vicky did escalate the situation but the girls couldn’t leave well enough alone and had to get her at any chance they could, it felt. Now I already talked about the final prank that the girls pull on her. It’s a bit over the top but I really want to bring up the aftermath. When Vicky realized the next morning, what the twins had done she slaps one of them. Now this is where I’m a bit divided because on the one hand, Vicky was not a yet their step mother and shouldn’t have laid a hand on the girls but at the same time, she was frustrated and had it and I can see where see was coming from and even though she wasn’t their mother yet, the girls should’ve been punished for their actions. Now there is one other qualm I have with this character. I feel that she isn’t out of the movie rather poorly. Because after the camping trip, she leaves and that is the last we see of her with very minimal mention of her afterwards. Fun Fact: Joanna Barnes appears as the mother of the villain, Meredith in the remake also named Vicky. Now I’m not certain if she is reprising her character or not. I think it’s more than likely that it was just a subtle reference to the original for the adults who took their kids to see the remake.
My Final Thoughts
This was a very enjoyable film. The more I think about it was part family film and part romantic comedy. Both of these elements worked well and while I do like this version, I have to say that I think I prefer the remake if only for the fact that I grew up watching that one but this one on it’s own is very enjoyable. All of the characters are likable and I have very few qualms with this film. At this point, if I looked for anything, I’d be nitpicking and there is no need for that as this film is just a fun time. Join me next time as I take a look at The Parent Trap II.