Solid arguments could be made for these and countless others as well. Since Jaws and Star Wars were released in the mid-1970s, summer has become the season for high energy, popcorn-filled, franchise-driven trips to the local multiplexes. But my candidate for a perfect summer movie predates those two films by nearly a decade and a half, and while it was certainly a special effects powerhouse in its day, it is best remembered for its undeniable charm and the engaging performances of its cast.
The screenplay and direction of David Swift mix equal parts melodrama, romance and comedy for very satisfying results. Some reviewers, including Disney scholar Leonard Maltin, felt the film uneven in its comedy and ultimately average, a criticism I personally have to disagree with. However, nearly all critics of the time were universal in their praise of the filmâs cast. Accolades were deservedly given to romantic leads Brian Keith and the always beautiful Maureen OâHara, but the film is also notable for its equaling engaging supporting players; among them Nancy Kulp, Frank DeVol, Una Merkel, Joanna Barnes, Charlie Ruggles, Ruth McDevitt and Leo G. Carroll.
But letâs face it; from beginning to end, The Parent Trap belongs to Hayley Mills. Her remarkable performances as both Sharon and Susan are every bit as convincing as the special effects that allow her two characters to share the screen. Studio veteran Ub Iwerks supervised the processes that brought together the two distinctly different twins; it proved an amazing marriage of technical achievement with the exceptional acting of the very talented Mills.