Hayley Mills plays twins who, unknown to their divorced parents, meet at a summer camp. Products of single parent households, they switch places (surprise!) so as to meet the parent they never knew, and then contrive to reunite them.
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"The Parent Trap," (1961) also known as "Petticoats and Bluejeans," is a take off of the novel "Lottie and Lisa" (German title: Das doppelte Lottchen) by Erich Kästner (1949). It’s about 9 year old twin girls separated at birth who meet at summer camp. Kastner derived his version from a Deanna Durbin movie nominated for 3 Oscars called "Three Smart Girls" (1939). The film is about three sisters living in Switzerland with their divorced mother. They run away to New York to prevent their father from marrying a devious socialite.
Child star Hayley Mills stars in the classic "The Parent Trap" with a great supporting cast of Brian Keith (five years before Uncle Bill on "Family Affair"), lovely red-headed Maureen O'Hara and Leo G. Carroll. Directed by David Swift, Mills plays twin sisters, Sharon from Boston and Susan from California, who were separated at a very young age when their parents Mitch (Brian Keith) and Margaret (Maureen O'Hara) split. The girls meet for the first time when they are both sent to the same camp for the summer where they immediately dislike each other. After discovering they are twin sisters, the girls plan to reunite their feuding parents by switching places and forcing them to meet face to face to switch them back. However, Sharon and Susan don't count on the obstacle of Vicky (Joanna Barnes), who is quickly winning the attention of their father. The circumstances that unfold are hilarious, heartwarming and completely endearing.
"The Parent Trap" is a great lively, light-hearted, entertaining film, but for a Disney 'family' movie it's surprising to see a grandfather 'smoking,' a minister 'drinking' along with the amount of yelling that went on between the characters Mitch and Maggie; not to mention a face slap by Vicky. The film pioneered the processed split-screen technique, which while not seamless was revolutionary. In 1963, ABC television sitcom "The Patty Duke Show" debuted using similar filming techniques in a series about teenage cousins with identical twin appearances, but with completely different personalities. "The Parent Trap" was nominated for two Academy Awards: one for Sound by Robert O. Cook and the other for Film Editing by Philip W. Anderson.