The Moon-Spinners (1964)

moon-spinners poster 1964 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

Bizarre Disney movie, Hitchcock via Disney

Dense plot, not always kid-friendly

Movie Info

Movie Name: The Moon-Spinners

Studio: Walt Disney Pictures

Genre(s): Mystery/Suspense/Drama/Romance/Family

Release Date(s): July 8, 1964

MPAA Rating: G

moon spinners hayley mills peter mcenery

The jump scare in this scene terrified me as a kid

Nikky Ferris (Hayley Mills) and her aunt Frances (Joan Greenwood) are vacationing on Crete in the village of Elounda.  When they meet a man named Mark Camford (Peter McEnery), Nikky feels an immediate connection to the young, mysterious man.  When Mark doesn’t meet her for their planned date, Nikky finds herself pulled into a mystery of crime and deceit that could be fatal!

Directed by James Neilson, The Moon-Spinners is a Walt Disney live-action mystery-suspense drama.  The film was based on the 1962 novel by Mary Stewart.

I vividly remember watching The Moon-Spinners with my mother on the Magical World of Disney.  A jump scene in the movie scared me and I recall it as one of my first big scares in a movie (even though I knew it was coming from the commercial).  As a result, I’ve always had a soft spot for The Moon-Spinners…and it is a really weird Disney film.

moon spinners eli wallach hayley mills

What do you mean I’m in a Disney movie…I’ll kill you for saying that!!!

Imagine if Walt Disney decided to do a Hitchcock crime picture, and you have The Moon-Spinners.  The exotic location, the mystery of the jewels, and a no-nonsense tone to the story reminds me of films like The 39 Steps…but lighter.  Even though it is lighter, it still doesn’t feel like a Disney story (and if you didn’t go into it knowing it is a Disney film you might never guess it).  For the oddity of the film, I commend it.

Hayley Mills still remains a star in this film, but even acknowledged by the script, it is an awkward period for her.  She’s not old enough to be a leading lady, but she’s too old to be the cute Parent Trap-type star anymore.  There is something charming about her fresh faced, in-between look that holds true, but Peter McEnery feels too old for her.  Eli Wallach acts as if he’s not in a Disney movie and is his normal menacing self.  The film is also the last role of silent actress Pola Negri.

moon spinners hayley mills pola negri

Now I want a pet cheetah…

Part of the real joy of The Moon-Spinners is the setting.  Though the movie has a lot of Disney sets, much of the movie was set in Crete and shot there.  The exotic location is another different aspect of the Disney film which generally were more set-based.

I’m not going to pretend that The Moon-Spinners is the best movie, but I do enjoy it.  When watching the movie try to enter the film not considering a Disney movie and then think about how different is from a Disney film.  The plot is pretty dense which doesn’t help for younger viewers, but it does have some thrills.  While the film fared poorly at the box-office, it deserves a second viewing…and now with streaming options, I hope more people get to see it.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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