The Parent Trap (1961)

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Released 12-May-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Family Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-David Swift (Director / Writer) And Hayley Mills (Actress)
Featurette-The Parent Trap: Caught In The Act
Trailer-Disney Studio Album
Featurette-Seeing Double
Gallery-Photo-Production Stills
Gallery-Production Art - Costumes, Storyboards
Gallery-Lobby Cards, Posters, Merchandise
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1961
Running Time 123:52
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (76:03) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By David Swift
Studio
Distributor
Disney
Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Hayley Mills
Hayley Mills
Maureen O'Hara
Brian Keith
Charles Ruggles
Una Merkel
Joanna Barnes
Linda Watkins
Ruth McDevitt
Frank De Vol
Crahan Denton
Leo G. Carroll
Cathleen Nesbitt
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music Richard M. Sherman
Robert B. Sherman
Paul J. Smith


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.70:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.75:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
French
Spanish
Swedish
Norwegian
Danish
Finnish
French Titling
Spanish Titling
French Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
Swedish Audio Commentary
Norwegian Audio Commentary
Danish Audio Commentary
Finnish Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Imagine growing up thinking that you were an only child. Imagine living with your parent, knowing that they had split with their former half years before and knowing that there was nothing else to know. Then imagine finding out that this is far from the truth and that there is a huge secret that had been kept from you. Susan Evers and Sharon McKendrick (Hayley Mills and Hayley Mills) are about to find out that they are in just this scenario.

    Susan Evers has grown up in sunny California, raised by loving single parent Mitch (Brian Keith) on their sprawling ranch. Mitch has done well for himself and while never one to flaunt it, he is quite wealthy. Susan has been at her father's side for as long as she can remember, but sometimes a young girl has to do something on her own and come summer it's off to a popular girl's camp. Sharon McKendrick has grown up in Boston, raised by loving single parent Margaret (Maureen O'Hara) in their spacious New England townhouse. Sharon has been the darling of the house for as long as she can remember, but there comes a time in a young girl's life that she has to go out and do something on her own for the first time, and when summer arrives it's off to Camp Inch, a popular and exclusive girl's summer camp. Both have no idea as to what they'll find.

    Settling into life at Camp Inch, the girls quickly make friends and begin to enjoy the various activities at the camp. It's a chance meeting at the camp's cafeteria that comes as a shock as the two girls come face to face for the first time. At first it's just thought to be a fluke of nature, but when the two girls and their respective group of friends begin to play ever more cruel tit-for-tat games on each other, the pair are brought before the camp's administrator for discipline. When it's assumed that the pair are twin sisters, the two proclaim otherwise. Still, their unruly behaviour is looked down upon and the pair are 'sentenced' to remain together in their own cabin where they must spend all their time together for the remainder of the summer. At first reluctant to accept the punishment, the two have little choice but to try to get along. It's during a conversation about their families that the two begin to learn that there might be more than just coincidence to their looking like each other. When Sharon shows Susan a picture of her mother, Susan is startled as she can remember once seeing the same picture in her own house before her father took it down. This, coupled with their exact same birthday, proves beyond a doubt that the two are separated twins. Seeing each has never been able to see their respective parent, the two decide to switch places at the end of the summer and see what the other's life and parent is like. With an exchange of clothes, a bit of family history and house layout information, some accent practice and some haircuts, the two girls are indistinguishable from each other. With the plan hatched, the two leave the camp to two different families.

    With each daughter getting to know the parent they never knew, the pair begin to wonder why their parents divorced in the first place. Communicating by secret midnight phone calls, the two hatch a plan; a parent trap to lure the former couple to fall in love all over again. With Mitch Evens being involved with a much younger woman and marriage talk about the place, the pair have to work extra fast if they are to get mom and dad to rekindle the spark that had long ago faded.

    I remember this film with much fondness as it was many times a favourite on Sunday night's The Wonderful World of Disney when I was a youngster (billions and billions of years ago). In fact when I bought my first DVD player in 1997 it was on my list of films that I had to have on disc. Unfortunately, Disney at that time wasn't touching DVD with a ten foot pole and it's taken almost 7 years for this film to make its way to disc. Well, the wait is over and we can now enjoy this classic family film.

    The story for this film comes from German author Erich Kästner in his novel Das doppelte Lottchen. Erich's novel told the story of two girls discovering at camp that they were indeed sisters that had been separated by their divorced parents soon after birth, and despite potentially sad and sorry subject matter, this story has become a favourite over the years and has been made into a film three times. The first time would be in 1953 with the English film Twice Upon a Time which was directed by Emeric Pressburger (A Matter of Life and Death, Black Narcissus). The second time would be in 1961 with this version carrying the Walt Disney invented name The Parent Trap, and the third time would be the 1998 Disney remake starring Lindsay Lohan. I've never seen the first version, but out of the 1961 version and the 1998 version, I'd pick the 1961 classic any day. Three made for television 'sequels' starring Hayley Mills were also done in the late 80s. This is one of those films that despite its age just plain works a treat and the filmmakers did such a good job with the special effects that they still stand up well enough to make you believe that there are two Hayley Mills'. Along with Hayley's fantastic performance(s), the supporting actors are also great with Brian Keith doing a memorable job as the tough but loving father and the lovely Maureen O'Hara eating up the screen and looking fabulous as the confident and headstrong mother. Director David Swift is reunited with his Pollyanna star Hayley Mills and he gets some fine performances out of the entire cast of the film.

    One of the things that stands out about this film are the groundbreaking special effects that were used to replicate Hayley Mills. While a double (Susan Henning) was used in many shots, some very effective split-screen technology was used to place the two Hayley's on the screen at one time and not to have it look obvious, and all these years later it still works. You can see how they did it, but then you can see how they did Spider-Man too, so it's no big deal and suspension of disbelief isn't interrupted while watching the film.

    If you have grown tired of the endless procession of crap action films and want something that everyone can watch and have a bit of fun with, then this film could be the trick. I've loved this film ever since I first saw it and watching it again (about 4 times now since I got the disc) proves that time hasn't diminished it one bit. A wonderful film that still entertains. Highly Recommended.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    We get a reasonable transfer here with an image that is quite clean and clear and which doesn't give too much away as to the age of the film.

    The programme is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.70:1, 16x9 enhanced. This is close to but not exactly the same as the original theatrical aspect ratio with some slight cropping at the left and right edges of the image. Direct comparisons to screen captures of the Region 1 disc reveals that the Region 1 disc offers just slightly more image at the sides, but not enough to make our version a total write-off. I really didn't notice anything amiss while watching the film on my display, but I did notice it while viewing the disc on my computer. I don't think the slight extra matting ruins the image, but purists may object to the aspect ratio not being completely correct and if this causes you grief, then I would suggest that the Region 1 disc is the one to pick. As you'll read in the R4 vs R1 section of the review, there is much more going against the Region 4 disc than just this slight framing issue.

    The print used to transfer the film to DVD is quite clean and the level of sharpness throughout is quite good. There are some issues with excessive grain present in the stock footage used during some of the rear projection shots in the film, but these would be technical limitations that the filmmakers might not have been able to avoid. I did find the focus a bit out at 47:42, but this wasn't the norm, thankfully. Much of the film takes place in well-lit locations, but the darker scenes in the film reveal a reasonable level of shadow detail. Not reference, but quite good and better than we've seen the film on any home video format ever. I had no issues with low level noise.

    Colour's use in this film is quite natural and I found colour's commitment to disc quite good. In films of this age, one might expect to see some quite pronounced fading, but the opposite was the case here and I was surprised at the vibrancy of the image afforded us on this disc.

     The compression level here is reasonable with the bitrate running between 5.65 and 6.45 Mb/s, enough to display the film without any MPEG nasties. As stated before, there is a varying level of grain visible during the programme, but for the most part the image is quite clean and I didn't find grain to be a real issue. Edge enhancement is present to a very limited extent and not to a level that bothered me. The occasional nick and fleck is evident, but otherwise the print used here is very clean, and indeed some sort of restoration could have been done on the film before it was committed to DVD.

    I watched much of the film with the English subtitles enabled and found that they worked, but missed much of the dialogue at times. They'll serve a purpose, but they were not word for word.

    This disc is formatted RSDL with the layer change taking place at 76:03, which is between Chapters 15 and 16. It is a good place for a layer change and I didn't find it distracting in any way.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio offered on this disc is good and serves the material well

    There are four audio options here, these being English, French and Spanish 5.1 audio tracks for the film as well as an Audio Commentary track. The English track runs at 448 Kb/s while the French and Spanish tracks run at  384 Kb/s. The commentary track is at a basic but adequate 192 Kb/s. I listened to the English track as well as the Audio Commentary.

    The dialogue quality throughout is quite good with the spoken word understandable at all times. Sync is also good, but there is some obvious ADR from time to time (21:40 for example). One pronounced bit of post production dubbing can be seen (heard) at 53:18 where the voice of Linda Watkins (as Edna Robinson) seems dubbed into the scene during post production and the voice is quite clearly not from the original actor, of if it is then it's not in the right character at all. Not a common problem, but very noticeable when I watched the film.

    The music for this film comes from Paul Smith, a frequent score contributor to Disney films such as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Shaggy Dog and Pollyanna as well as the classic television show Leave It to Beaver. The score is completely complementary and suits the film very well. Songs for the film, namely The Parent Trap and Let's Get Together come from prolific songwriting brothers  Richard Sherman and  Robert Sherman. The brothers have collaborated on the soundtracks to many great family classics such as The Aristocats, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Charlotte's Web, Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and many others. This isn't a musical in any way, but the music as performed in the movie is quite important and integral to the telling of the story.

    While the audio heard during the programme is in Dolby Digital 5.1, this looks to be a derived audio 5.1 mix with the rears providing a minimal atmospheric audio presence that suits the material well without drawing undue attention to itself.

    There isn't much here to excite the LFE channel and even though it has its own dedicated stream, if it had been missing you probably wouldn't notice. There isn't anything contained that the mains can't handle in terms of low frequency effect.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are several extras on offer with this disc.

Menu

    After selecting your language of choice with the initial Language Selection Menu, you are taken through the normal copyright warnings and distributor's logos before going to the disc's Main Menu which offers the following:     The Main Menu is animated with Hayley Mills and Hayley Mills singing Let's Get Together. The menus are 16x9 enhanced.

    Selecting the Bonus Material icon presents the following choices:

Audio Commentary - Featuring Director David Swift and Actor Hayley Mills

    This is an interesting commentary that looks to have been recorded around 1999 - 2000, which is just before the film's director David Swift died and not long after the death of film star Brian Keith. I got the impression that David and Hayley recorded this commentary in the same sitting as for the commentary of Pollyanna, and perhaps because of this they might have began to have run out of things to talk about at times. In any case, it did seem that the pair were not used to recording commentaries and thus were not as engaging with their comments as they could have been. Still, as a fan of this film it was good to hear the main participants talking about how the film came about, was made and its impact. There are a few interesting titbits for those patient enough and interested enough to give it the time.

The Parent Trap: Caught in the Middle   -   18:48

    This is an interesting making-of documentary with modern interviews of the major participants as well as original film footage. Presented full frame with audio in English Dolby Digital 2.0.

"Disney Studio Album": 1961   -   3:43

    This is a look back to 1961 and the films that came from Disney in that year. In the nearly 4 minutes running time, the viewer is treated to a series of clips from films such as 101 Dalmatians and The Absent Minded Professor. This feature is presented full frame with audio in English Dolby Digital 2.0.

"Seeing Double"   -   9:20

    A very interesting short that details how the filmmakers got Hayley Mills on screen with herself. Special effects supervisor Bob Boughton talks about the various techniques used to create the "twins effect" on screen and highlights the impressive technical work of special effects man Ub Iwerks. Also features interviews with Hayley Mills, David Swift and Susan Henning-Schutte. Presented full frame with audio in English Dolby Digital 2.0.

Production Stills

    This is a collection of over 150 production stills, both in colour and black and white. Some are direct scenes from the film while others are behind the scenes looks as the cast and crew at work (and play).

Production Art

    This section is divided up into Costumes and Storyboards. The Costumes section features 13 design drawings of the character's wardrobe for the film while the Storyboards section is 42 storyboards for the Camp Out sequence.

Advertising

    This section is divided up into Lobby Cards, Posters and Merchandise. The Lobby Cards section features 9 theatre lobby promotional cards, the Posters 10 images and Merchandise offers 16 images consisting of the comic book adaptation, soundtrack album covers and song books.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

An Open Letter to Buena Vista Home Entertainment

    Since 1928, the name Walt Disney has been synonymous with quality family entertainment. From the first Mickey Mouse cartoon, the groundbreaking Steamboat Willie to modern classics such as The Lion King and Finding Nemo, Disney has been at the fore in terms of storytelling through the medium of film. Never one to shirk a challenge, many of the films to come from the House of the Mouse have represented major leaps in technical achievement, such as the first colour feature length animated motion picture in 1937 with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to the 1982 sleeper Tron which heralded a new era of computer animation. Whilst not every film to come from Disney is a classic, the good for the most part outweighs the bad and I for one have very fond memories of watching many of Disney's offerings pre home video on the Sunday night favourite The Wonderful World of Disney, with The Parent Trap being one of my all time favourites.

    When DVD first became a viable consumer video delivery medium in 1997, Buena Vista, along with Paramount Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox were not eager to offer their product on the new format. Piracy was a concern and this saw these three influential film houses back the now defunct DIVX format as a counter offer to the modern video buying public. When 'the demon' DIVX did finally hit the post and backer Circuit City withdrew the product from the market, we finally saw Buena Vista, Paramount and Fox begin to release some of their films on the new and very popular DVD format. While early offerings from Buena Vista on DVD were far from reference quality, over time they improved in quality and now some of the best every audio and video transfers come from Disney - A Bug's Life , Finding Nemo and The Lion King instantly come to mind. And not only have the transfers to disc been increasingly first rate, the packages themselves have been quite impressive with standouts being the 2 disc Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs release, the 2 disc Special Edition of The Lion King, the 20th Anniversary Collector's Edition of Tron and the Pixar classics A Bug's Life, Monsters Inc. and Finding Nemo. All of these represent benchmarks of film presentation that should be the envy of any home video distributor and are required ownership for any serious fan of classic family and animation films.

    But whilst Buena Vista has done an amazing job with some of its titles released here in Region 4, others strangely have been given some very poor treatment. Classics such as Swiss Family Robinson , Pollyanna , 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea , Fantasia , Fantasia 2000 , Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty , Toy Story and Toy Story 2 all have been robbed of extras before being forced onto the Australian buying public. A separate collection called Vault Disney has been created in the United States to release to DVD some of the classic Disney live action back catalogue, but I am disgusted to see that Buena Vista hasn't seen fit to offer the Vault Disney collection here in Region 4. Films such as Pollyanna, 20,000 Leagues and Swiss Family Robinson have been released in Region 1 under the Vault Disney label in 2 disc sets that almost burst at the seams in terms of extras. The same for Region 4? Hardly. It seems that because we all live in the Southern Hemisphere on the world's largest island we couldn't possibly be interested in a comparable package offered to our cousins in the United States. Because I'm an Australian does this mean that I'll automatically settle for less? Is an Australian's attention span so short that we couldn't possibly bring ourselves to wade through a host of extras on a second disc? In short:  Do we deserve less?

    Buena Vista Australia Pty. Ltd., I challenge you to tell the Region 4 DVD buying public (a huge market by any standard) why we should be given less because of who we are. I challenge you to explain why we shouldn't bypass the local offering and go straight for the far, far superior Region 1 product. Tell us why once again we have to settle for less. Long time Michael D's site reviewer Ian M has brought the deficiency of many Disney titles to the attention of the buying public, and if you thought that because I've taken on the review of this title that I'd give you a softer touch, then you have another thing coming. This Package Offered To Us In Region 4 Of This Classic Film Is NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!!  See this list below? Read it and tell my why I and the rest of the Australian film buying public aren't interested in any of them.

    Region 4, Buena Vista Australia doesn't think you want any of the following:

    The Region 1 version of the disc misses out on:     Just under 2 hours of extras versus a couple of language and subtitle options. Which do you think is the better package? As a huge fan of this film, as much as it pains me to say it, I have to recommend that you avoid the local release and go for what is surely better value, the Region 1 disc. Vote with your wallet. Vote 1. Region 1. Buena Vista Australia: Please don't do this again.

Summary

    This is a truly a wonderful film, which is a great combination of story, technical achievement and acting. All the collaborators on this film have done a wonderful job and it entertains hugely. Watching it again after all these years, the spit-screen effects still work and you really do think that there are two Hayley Mills running around. Great family entertainment.

    The video is reasonable, but the images is cropped at the sides which alters it from its original aspect ratio.

    The audio is clear with a simple derived 5.1 audio mix that serves the material well.

    There are a couple of extras here, including an audio commentary with director David Swift and film star Hayley Mills, but we miss out of such a wealth of extras that there is no way I can recommend the Region 4 offering.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Sean Bradford (There is no bio.)
Sunday, July 25, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD RP-82 with DVD-Audio on board, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko TRW 325 / 32 SFT 10 76cm (32") 16x9. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderYamaha RX-V2300 Dolby Digital and dts. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationYamaha RX-V2300 110w X 6 connected via optical cable and shielded RCA (gold plated) connects for DVD-Audio
SpeakersVAF DC-X Fronts (bi-wired), VAF DC-6 Center, VAF DC-2 Rears, VAF LFE-07 Sub (Dual Amp. 80w x 2)

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Comments (Add)
Buena Vista Australia is a disgrace - Steven Cameron (read my bio) REPLY POSTED
Beuna Vista Letter - REPLY POSTED
Another Buena Vista detractor - grug (there is no bio.) REPLY POSTED