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The Parent Trap (1961) is a Walt Disney Productions feature film starring Hayley Mills, Maureen O'Hara and Brian Keith in a story about teenage twins and their divorced parents. The screenplay by the film's director David Swift was based upon the book Lottie and Lisa (Das Doppelte Lottchen) by Erich Kästner. Kastner derived his version from a Deanna Durbin movie called "Three Smart Girls". 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 to VHS and DVD. The original film was Mills' second of six films for Disney.


Identical twins Sharon McKendrick and Susan Evers (Hayley Mills) make each other's acquaintance at summer camp, not realizing at first that they are indeed sisters. After both admitted they have come from broken homes, they soon learn that their parents Maggie and Mitch (Maureen O'Hara and Brian Keith) divorced shortly after the twins' birth, with each parent having custody to one daughter. The sisters, each dying to meet the parent they never knew, switch places in order to visit the parent they have never seen. While Susan is in Boston masquerading as Sharon, Sharon is in California masquerading as Susan.

Sharon calls Susan in Boston with the news that their father is planning to marry a gold-digger and their mother needs to be rushed to California to prevent the union. In Boston, Susan tells her mother the truth about the switched identities and the two fly to California.

With both parents and both twins in California, the twins set about (with some slight approval from their mother) sabotaging their father's marriage plans. Mitch's money-hungry girlfriend Vicki Robinson (Joanna Barnes) receives some rude, mischievous treatment from the girls and some veiled cattiness from Maggie. When Vicki is away for an evening, the girls stage a reprise of their parents' first date in Mitch's home with an Italian dinner and a gypsy violinist. The former spouses are gradually drawn together.

Vicki however digs her heels in regarding Mitch and marriage, but the girls effect the coup de grace on a wilderness camping trip: Vicki spends her time swatting mosquitoes after dousing herself with a sugar and water "mosquito repellent" given her by Sharon and Susan, and finds her sleep interrupted by two bear cubs licking honey off her feet. The bear cubs were drawn to her tent by a trail of honey left by the twins. Exasperated, Vicki gladly tosses in the towel. Mitch and Maggie rekindle the love they once held for each other and the two remarry in the final scene with the twins as members of the wedding party.

Cast includes Cathleen Nesbitt and Charles Ruggles as the girls' maternal grandparents, Una Merkel as Mitch's sympathetic housekeeper Verbena, Ruth McDevitt and Nancy Kulp as summer camp staff, and Leo G. Carroll as Reverend Mosby. Hayley Mills' father John appeared in the uncredited role of a golf caddy while Susan Henning was Hayley Mills' uncredited body double for several of the "twin" shots in the film.


Production notes

The screenplay 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. 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 in Californiamarker at various locales. The summer camp scenes were filmed at Camp Cedar Lake, in the Angeles National Forest 5 minutes from Big Bear Lake, California. The Monterey scenes were filmed in various California locations, including millionaire Stuyvesant Fish's 5,200 acre (21 km²) ranch in Carmel, Monterey's Pebble Beach golf course. The scenes at the Monterey house were shot at studio's Golden Oak Ranch in Placerita Canyon, where Mitch's ranch was built. 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. Of course, 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 Carolinamarker.

Musical numbers

Richard M. and Robert B. 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" 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. The title song was performed by Tommy Sands and Annette Funicello who were both on the studio lot shooting Babes in Toyland at the time.

Awards and nominations

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.

Subsequent developments

The film was theatrically re-released in 1968. The Disney Studios produced three television sequels The Parent Trap II (1986), The Parent Trap III (1989), and The Parent Trap IV: Hawaiian Honeymoon (1989). In 1963, ABC television sitcom The Patty Duke Show debuted using similar filming techniques in a series about teenage cousins (played by Patty Duke) with identical twin appearances but with completely different personalities. The original The Parent Trap was remade in 1998 starring Lindsay Lohan.

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