The Parent Trap (1961)

parent trap poster 1961 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 7/10

Classic family comedy

Some dated visuals

Movie Info

Movie Name:   The Parent Trap

Studio:   Walt Disney Productions

Genre(s):   Comedy/Romance/Family

Release Date(s):   June 21, 1961

MPAA Rating:   Not Rated

parent trap sharon meets susan hayley mills

I’m clearly raised by my manly father while you were clearly raised by our feminine mother…

Sent to Miss Inch’s Summer Camp for Girls, Susan Ever (Hayley Mills) and Sharon McKendrick (Hayley Mills) discover that they are identical twins separated by their parents when they were infants.  Sharon and Susan decide to switch places on the return only to discover that their father Mitch (Brian Keith) is intending to marry a young, gold-digger named Vicky Robinson (Joanna Barnes).  Susan forces her mother Maggie (Maureen O’Hara) to return her to California to switch her back with Sharon, but Susan and Sharon have bigger plans for their parents…and the trap is set!

Written and directed by David Swift, The Parent Trap is a Walt Disney family romantic comedy.  The movie was based on the German 1949 book The double Lottie (aka Lottie and Lisa).  It was nominated for Oscars for Best Sound and Best Film Editing.

The Parent Trap was a frequent player on The Wonderful World of Disney growing up.  It was one of those movies that was harmless and parents could enjoy but also safe to plop their kids down in front of it without a concern.  Unlike some of the movies on The Wonderful World of Disney, The Parent Trap is a bit better quality.

parent trap mitch adn maggie maureen ohara brian keith


Disney live action films are often hit or miss, but The Parent Trap is a hit.  The story might seem simple and unrealistic on the outside and the basic premise is questionable…what parents do that?!?   Fortunately, the script does keep changing things up and it surfaces that it is very much a romance that happens to be a comedy involving twins.  The movie is loaded with “hijinks” that will keep younger kids entertained and older viewers remembering enjoying it as kids.

The movie is largely driven on the charm of Hayley Mills.  The actress plays off the dual role (though there is really little differences in the characters once she cuts her hair) but it is commendable the extra work Mills had to do to record all the scenes where she appeared with her “double”.  Keith and O’Hara play a good sparring couple and Joanna Barnes is a good conniving interloper (with her mother played by Linda Watkins).  Crahan Denton and Una Merkel play the staff working with Sharon and Susan.  Though the roles are small, Charles Ruggles, Leo G. Carroll, Ruth McDevitt, Cathleen Nesbitt, and Nancy Kulp make the best of what they get.

parent trap lets get together hayley mills 1961

I hope my zaniness will hide the fact I’m not playing this guitar

For when it was made, The Parent Trap does have some of the best split screen shooting.  Now, with technological advances, it isn’t as good, but it still holds up.  A lot of the visual problems are more from the combination of sets (which aren’t great) and good location shooting…this negates some of the style of the film.

The Parent Trap is a fun little movie that isn’t too serious or too light.  It is a movie you don’t want to think about too heavily because you see the bizarre weaknesses in the story which aren’t necessarily seen on face value.  The film was followed up by the made-for-TV movie The Parent Trap II (with Mills as an adult) and made-for-TV Parent Trap III in 1989 (which also had a TV movie follow-up the same year).  The Parent Trap was remade with Lindsay Lohan in 1998.

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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