Saturday, October 11, 2014

Silly Cinema: The Parent Trap (1961)

Have I mentioned (less than one million times) that The Parent Trap (1961) is my favorite movie in the whole wide world?  Coming from a classic-movie nerd, this might seem like a questionable choice, yet I make no apologies.  The casting is perfect.  The sets and locations are incredible.  The script is hilarious.  The music is stellar.  And the costumes...don't even get me started on the costumes.  The Parent Trap is my "happy place" movie, a movie that I can watch any time of any day in any mood.  It is a movie for which I, an unyielding critic, am forever willing to not only suspend my disbelief that two people would actually separate their infant twins only to never speak to/of said twins again, but to love them all the more for the zany story-telling opportunities their poor decision making created!

"Oh El Capitan, my El Capitan..."

When my dear friend informed me that there was to be a "Throwback Thursday" screening of The Parent Trap at the historic The El Capitan Theatre (est. 1926), I cleared my already-empty schedule and headed straight for Hollywood!  Unfortunately, I wasn't warned that this was not to be a sing-a-long/talk-a-long performance; with a view count reaching into the hundreds, I come prepared with memorized score, script, songs, and a full-arsenal of character voices!

I was more than excited to go to The El Capitan; the only time I had ever been inside was not to see a film, it was to be a character extra in a photo shoot for a restaurant at Disney's California Adventure Park.  Sadly, according to reports, I didn't make it into the restaurant's final design as it was determined that no one could look at my face and keep their food down.  Be that as it may, I was still happy to return to the scene of my crimes against photography.  Often overshadowed by its neighbor across the street, The Chinese Theatre, The El Capitan holds its own as a true movie palace.

If you don't believe me, just take a look a look at the ceiling of the forecourt!!!

And a few of the other glorious details!

Can you believe that we got all of that history and beauty plus popcorn, a drink, and a raffle ticket for only ten dollars - and that was before the movie even started?!!  Once inside the theater, we were further treated to a small display of artifacts from the film. 

I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the original puppets used in the
opening title sequence of The Parent Trap.  I had heard from a few insiders
that despite the warehouses full of material, Disney has gaping holes in its
archives.  At only 5-6" tall these pieces could have all easily gone the way
of "Marcia's" hair...

The Parent Trap (Opening Titles)

As I am of the opinion that Maureen O'Hara is the most beautiful creature to have ever roamed the face of this earth, my favorite things to see were the costume sketches for Margaret McKendrick (Maureen O'Hara); her evolution from uptight "well-bred, ladylike, Bostonian matron" to earthy, barefoot goddess is thoughtfully executed in costume by designer, Bill Thomas.


Getting warmer...

HOT!  HOT!  HOT!!!
Step aside, Ava Gardner, there is a new "Barefoot Contessa" in town!
I have actually made a version of this outfit for Mary because I could
never get it out of my head!

From clothing design, to architecture (I would KILL for a real version of Mitch Evers', Brian KeithCarmel ranch), to comedy, to music, it probably goes without saying that this film has informed much of the wacky tacky sensibility.  Having only ever seen the movie on the small screen, however, it was a rare treat to capture some of the finer details on the big screen.

The evening's program began with an medley of Disney favorites played on
a gorgeous theater organ, after which a Disney archivist presented a slide
show highlighting some special behind-the-scenes moments.  Then the real
fun began!

Our old pal, Richard Sherman, one half of that inimitable writing duo,
The Sherman Brothers, was on hand to play, sing, and charm the audience
with stories about the song-writing process for The Parent Trap.  He explained
that he and his brother, Robert, basically composed the entire soundtrack, with
each new song an attempt to name the movie ("Let's Get Together," "For Now,
For Always," etc.).  It wasn't until Walt Disney came to them with the name
"The Parent Trap" that they composed the film's title song and the rest is history.

Leaving the stage to a standing ovation, Mr. Sherman joined the audience and the house lights dimmed so the movie could begin.  If, for whatever reason of moral delinquency, you've lived your entire life without ever having seen The Parent Trap, then repent now for the kingdom of Hayley Mills is nigh.  Should you not have access to a glorious movie palace, a television, a dvd player, or a pirated movie stream, then you are welcome to the wacky tacky clubhouse for a viewing; The Parent Trap DVD is more than likely already in the player.  Should the power go out, I can always perform my live-action version for you, in which I play every role.  C'mon, "Let's Get Together!"

"Let's Get Together" - Hayley Mills & Hayley Mills
from The Parent Trap (1961)

Do you have any beautiful movie palaces where you live?  Have you seen The Parent Trap?  Have you seen it as many times as I have and committed it to memory?  If you could die and come back as any person, would it be Hayley Mills?

The El Capitan Theatre
6838 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA


Mr. Tiny


  1. I must admit, I'm rather heartbroken I didn't know about this screening in advance!! Disney sends all sorts of alerts, but did I pay attention to this one? Of course not!! Haha. The Parent Trap is one of my absolute favorites, one of those movies I pop in if I'm having a bad day and it turns everything around. Thank you for documenting the event, and taking the pictures of the displays!

    1. Aw, nuts! I'm sorry that you missed it. Well, the next tbt is December 11 - Swiss Family Robinson!

  2. I was 11 when the movie came out and a huge fan of Hayley Mills so you can bet I saw that movie in a movie theater....alas, not as fabulous as El Capitan, but instead the "Forest" theater in Forest Grove, OR, where a movie cost $.85, popcorn was $.10 and a Sugar Daddy was $.05 - a fabulous night out for just a buck.

    My husband is a huge fan of Maureen O'Hara (his personal favorite movie is The Quiet Man) so we tune into The Parent Trap any time we find it on tv.

    The absolute best movie theater I've ever been in was in Brooklyn, NY, where I saw Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in 1971. I wish I could remember the name of it but I suppose it's long gone now.

    1. Thanks for sharing your movie memories!!! The Quiet Man is a family favorite for us too. I thought we got a deal for $10; is happily go back to a $1 movie day!

  3. Ditto what Elise said - can't believe I missed this! Maureen O'Hara really makes that movie for me. What a talent. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I have seen this since my child hood but after reading this post I know I have to see it how on earth didn't I notice those costumes all those years ago

    retro rover

    1. I encourage you to revisit the movie ASAP! You won't be able to miss the evil Vickie's costumes either - gorgeous!

  5. OH MY GOSH!!!! Why, WHY Do I live in all the wrong places?! I bet this was a total blast! I have tried time and time again to get my Boss at the historic Wichita Theatre in Wichita Falls TX to do something like this, but he just doesn't believe it will make money. What an enchanting evening, glad i could live it vicariously through you!

    1. Given the parties, the productions, and the pals you have, it sounds like you're living in just the right place! I say, keep hounding your boss. Try a throwback movie night just once and see how it works. Maybe make it a fundraiser so the theater gets good PR and a chance to advertise the upcoming season of shows. It could be great!

  6. Can you tell I'm way behind in my blog reader? I couldn't let this post pass without a comment though! I LOVE the parent trap too! Crystal and I used to sing let's get together ALL the time in high school with my dad playing the song on piano. Not as punk as we thought we were, haha, but it was so fun! And what a beautiful theater! Our old theater in Nashville isn't spectacular but we love to go to the louisville palace in kentucky. It is GORGEOUS but they only play movies there during the summer. Usually hitchcock or a series of classic musicals. It is perfect.

    1. I pretty much love any and all movie theaters; I still get excited everytime the lights go down. My older sister and I once crashed a bible study just so we could see the inside of the movie theater that a church had taken over. Next time we see eachother, Let's Get Together will definitely be on the agenda!