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The Parent Trap (1961) Vault Disney DVD Review

The Parent Trap (1961) movie poster The Parent Trap (1961)

Theatrical Release: June 21, 1961 / Running Time: 129 Minutes / Rating: G

Director: David Swift / Writers: Erich Kästner (book), David Swift (screenplay)

Cast: Hayley Mills (Sharon McKendrick, Susan Evers), Maureen O'Hara (Maggie McKendrick), Brian Keith (Mitch Evers), Charles Ruggles (Charles McKendrick), Una Merkel (Verbena), Leo G. Carroll (Rev. Dr. Mosby), Joanna Barnes (Vicky Robinson), Cathleen Nesbitt (Louise McKendrick), Linda Watkins (Edna Robinson), Ruth McDevitt (Miss Inch)

Songs: "The Parent Trap", "For Now, For Always", "Let's Get Together"

UPDATE: This 2-disc The Parent Trap: Vault Disney DVD was discontinued in 2005 to make way for The Parent Trap: 2-Movie Collection, a 2-disc set containing the original The Parent Trap, the 1986 made-for-TV sequel The Parent Trap II, and all the original film's Vault Disney extras except for the audio commentary and Donald Duck short. Buy this 2-Movie Collection DVD from Amazon.com or read our in-depth review here.

The Parent Trap (1961) was Hayley Mills' second of many films with Walt Disney. To date, it remains Mills' most popular Disney film. Having spawned two low-profile sequels and a worthy 1998 theatrical remake, the original Parent Trap is very much a fan favorite.

Hayley Mills is, of course, the star of The Parent Trap, playing dual roles of the twin sisters who only discover that they have a twin when they meet each other at summer camp. The two girls decide they would like to switch roles to meet and spend time with the one parent they have never known, and they conspire to do all they can to get their parents back together again. Only problem is that Dad (Brian Keith) is already planning on getting re-married...to someone else!

You'll be seeing double when Sharon McKendrick (Hayley Mills) and Susan Evers (Hayley Mills) meet at summer camp in Disney's original 1961 comedy "The Parent Trap."

Based on the German book "Das Doppelte Lottchen" by Erich Kästner, The Parent Trap was brought to the screen by writer/director David Swift, just a year after Swift teamed with Hayley for Pollyanna. The Parent Trap is a charming, original comedy and is one of the most entertaining films of the 1960s. Much credit must go to the young Hayley Mills, whose screen presence carries the film for over two hours. Maureen O' Hara and Brian Keith turn in solid performances as well. Overall, everything seems to work, from Swift's sharp screenplay and direction to the Sherman Brothers' songs to the interesting stop-motion animated opening. The splitscreen visual effects hold up quite well and while the film is over forty years old, it has not dated much. In fact it seems rather fresh. This comedy has delighted generations and remains a surefire hit with families today.

Disney has given The Parent Trap a wonderful 2-disc set as part of the Vault Disney line, which is overflowing with extras, many of which are not even listed on the back cover.

Buy The Parent Trap (2-Disc Vault Disney DVD) from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.75:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Closed Captioned
Release Date: May 7, 2002
Two Single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99
(reduced from $29.99)
White Double Alpha Keepcase


The Parent Trap is properly presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.75:1, and has been enhanced for widescreen televisions. Video quality is pretty impressive. While the film does seem a bit soft and the '60s color palette somewhat muted, the transfer is free from any serious problems. Considering the age of the source material, The Parent Trap looks great! Effects shots involving the splitscreen or bluescreen techniques (the latter of which do not remain visually convincing) aren't up to the quality of the rest of the film, but the difference isn't very noticeable if you aren't looking for it. Overall, the colors are rendered quite nicely, and you'll be amazed that a film more than forty years old can look so great.

Posing as Sharon, Susan enjoys time with her mother (Maureen O'Hara) in an actual Boston park.

As with the other Vault Disney releases, The Parent Trap boasts a 5.1 Dolby Digital remix, which is essentially Mono. There is not much channel separation and hardly any surround usage, but it is not really called for here. The most important issue is "does this film sound good?" and the answer to that is an easy "Yes." The soundtrack isn't as alive as modern films, naturally, but it is mostly a dialogue-driven film and the dialogue is all clear and intelligible. I suppose the 5.1 track is something to put on a package, even if it doesn't particularly feel like Dolby Digital 5.1 or enhance the material. Nonetheless, this sound mix is certainly suitable for the film, with very little to complain about.

Photos and crafts get animated on The Parent Trap Disc 1 Main Menu


Extra material is where The Parent Trap and other Vault Disney releases soar above other DVDs. As with the other Vault Disney DVDs, The Parent Trap is preceded on Disc 1 by the 7-minute animated short that accompanied the film upon its initial theatrical run. "Donald's Double Trouble", as the title might imply, stars Donald Duck and a duck that looks quite similar to Donald. This is a fairly amusing short and it's a nice touch how the short plays before the movie as it did in theaters (you can skip the short if you'd just like to start the movie). Also on Disc 1 is an Audio Commentary with Hayley Mills and David Swift.

Preview trailers at the start of the disc are for Lilo & Stitch, Max Keeble's Big Move, and Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch. Accessing the Sneak Peeks menu also gives you the choice to watch previews for Return to Never Land, Monsters, Inc., and Beauty and the Beast.

The Parent Trap's animated menus are lively, with Disc 1 featuring the catchy "Let's Get Together" tune and Disc 2 featuring the elaborate and pleasant Vault Disney menus, which are indicative of the overall effort that went into the design of these DVDs.

Maureen O'Hara in 'Caught in the Act' The Sherman Brothers 'Let's Get Together' Montage

"The Parent Trap: Caught in the Act" is a charming new 19-minute featurette on the making of the film. Stars Hayley Mills, Maureen O'Hara, and Joanna Barnes reflect on the significance of the film. Also appearing are writer/director David Swift (taped shortly before his death), Roy Disney, and songwriting brothers Richard and Robert Sherman. Through the amusing anecdote told over the end credits, this piece is entirely entertaining. Topics discussed include how having two Hayleys on screen was accomplished technically.

"The Sherman Brothers" (15 minutes) profiles the songwriting duo who created all of the film's songs. The Sherman Brothers have a long, successful history of writing music for Disney films, and it's great to see them recall today coming up with the songs for The Parent Trap.

"Let's Get Together" (1:35) is a simple montage of moments from The Parent Trap set to the twins performing the song.

Lost Treasure: 'Who's That Twin?' Hayley Mills and Susan Henning Promotional Artwork from the Production Archive Galleries

The Lost Treasures (6:00) on this set is "Who's The Twin?", an immensely interesting little featurette on Susan Henning-Schutte, the other twin from the movie. In shots where one of the girls is only clearly seen, Henning is the twin seen in profile or from the back. She recalls being made up to look just like Hayley as well as being presented a Duckster award from Walt himself at the completion of the film.

The Disney Studio Album feature, part of all of the Vault Disney releases, as usual, is a montage of the various productions from the year of the film's release. This montage runs 3 1/2 minutes long and covers such 1961 films as 101 Dalmatians, The Absent Minded Professor, and Babes in Toyland.

Onto the The Parent Trap Production Archive, where there are still more bonus features to be found. There are extensive Galleries with Production Stills, Production Art (Costumes and Storyboards), six Cast and Director Biographies, Advertising (Posters, Lobby Cards, and Merchandise) and a Screenplay Excerpt with a clip of the scene.

Choosing "Production Gallery" from the Production Archive menu takes you to a 1 1/2 video montage of black & white stills from the film, set to instrumental music of the title song. "Trailers & TV Spots" contains five minutes of ads for the film in succession.

Disney Legend: Hayley Mills Walt Disney, 'The Titlemakers' Kimball & Swift: The Disney Years

"Disney Legend: Hayley Mills" is a 22 1/2 minute featurette that covers Mills' various Disney films made in the 1960s. Disney veterans Dean Jones and Kevin Corcoran comment on the actress, as well as Roy Disney and Maureen O'Hara. There's some really interesting footage included and it's an easily engaging watch.

"Seeing Double" goes into detail about the visual effects employed to create the illusion of two Hayley Millses. Running just over 9 minutes, this featurette covers the technical wizardry of the film more thoroughly than the "Caught in the Act" making-of featurette.

"The Titlemakers" (17:17) is a classic segment from a "Disneyland" TV episode (the last one created in black & white) hosted by Walt Disney. It covers the innovative opening credits sequence made for the film. Walt takes us on a tour of the titles department. Tommy Sands and Annette Funicello take time off from making Babes in Toyland record the title song "The Parent Trap." They explain The Parent Trap's premise with clips to a mysterious but familiar voice from above.

"Kimball & Swift: The Disney Years" (17:30) is a sweet, funny piece on animator Ward Kimball and director David Swift. These two Disney legends are both in their 80s here, but they glow with youthful spirit as they recall their various encounters over the years. It's a wonderful feature which captures some wonderful recollections from the two men, who would both pass on within a year of taping this.

Last up is the Audio Archives section which includes eleven radio spots for the film, two songs ("For Now, For Always" and "The Parent Trap"), and two Sound Studio scenes: "The Girlfriend" and "Twin's Revenge." You can watch these scenes with just dialogue, just sound effects, just music, or the final composite as it appears in the film.

Sharon and Susan get together. Yea yea yea!


You'll have a swingin' time with this wonderful Vault Disney release of one of Disney's finest live action films made. Lovingly restored and accompanied by hours of genuinely entertaining bonus features, this 2-disc set of The Parent Trap will undoubtedly delight today's children, children of the '60s, and every one in between. If you only get one live action Disney movie, this is quite possibly the finest DVD release to choose. Furthermore, it's pleasantly low-priced.

Buy this DVD from Amazon.com Marketplace

Buy from Amazon.com Marketplace

UPDATE: This 2-disc The Parent Trap: Vault Disney DVD was discontinued in 2005 to make way for The Parent Trap: 2-Movie Collection, a 2-disc set containing the original The Parent Trap, the 1986 made-for-TV sequel The Parent Trap II, and all the original film's Vault Disney extras except for the audio commentary and Donald Duck short. Buy this 2-Movie Collection DVD from Amazon.com or read our in-depth review here.

Related Reviews:
The Parent Trap & The Parent Trap II (2-Movie Collection) • The Parent Trap (1998 remake, Special Double Trouble Edition)

Other '60s Disney Movies:
PollyannaSummer MagicThat Darn Cat!In Search of the Castaways
The Love BugMonkeys, Go Home!Follow Me, Boys!Those CallowaysThe Sword in the Stone

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Reviewed February 21, 2004.