Today, we celebrate the birthday of former Disney darling Hayley Mills. Thirty-seven years before Lindsay Lohan made her child star debut, Hayley Mills starred in Disney’s classic film The Parent Trap. Yes, it did exist before LiLo, and if you haven’t seen the original, for shame. It should be a staple of every childhood. Now, the occasion of Miss Mills’ birth obviously requires some celebratory reflection on the film for which she is most known, as well as it’s ’90s counterpart. And let’s face it, that’s certainly the version of Lindsay we all like to remember. Before mugshots and rehab and repeated rides on the struggle bus, LiLo was an adorably precocious little ginger. How the times have changed. Let’s rewind the clock to yesteryear to compare the highlights of these Disney masterpieces and decide which one takes the (birthday) cake.
The Twins Meet
The Hayley Mills version of the film brings the twins, Susan and Sharon, together quite quickly when they come face to face over the milk cartons in the camp mess hall. Meh, not the most inventive meet-cute. Personally, I’ve always been partial to the fencing match after which the girls, Annie and Hallie, meet for the first time. Not only did that scene make fencing eternally cool in my book, it introduced one of my favorite zingers in film history. “I have class and you don’t.” Boom. That baby has been locked away in my arsenal for just the right moment, a moment which will obviously include a British accent. One day, one day..
Of course, no one can forget the cabin hijinks in each movie. There is clearly such an art to cabin vandalization, like, how do they manage this without waking anyone? I’m still a bit bummed that my parents never sent me to camp so I could test it out. But the original version takes it a step further when Sharon cuts off the back of Susan’s dress at the camp dance. OMG. All the boys saw her undies. Sounds trivial, sure. But as someone that suffers from constant fear of my skirt being tucked into my underwear, this is clearly as bad as it can get. That’s a traumatizing life experience, right there.
Hands down, Lindsay takes this one with that adorable handshake she and her lovely British butler perform on the reg. Once I saw this film, Miss Mary Mack and Concentration became a thing of the past. Who needs those tired, lame handshakes when you can be just like little LiLo? I put a lot of effort into this, constantly rewinding (remember when that was a thing?) and rewatching until I got it just right. I may or may not still know it by heart. Hayley Mills’ version is best known for the kitschy little song, “Let’s Get Together,” which is cute the first time you hear it, but then morphs into an inescapable earworm. Watch it for nostalgia’s sake if you will, but just know it’ll be in your head for days. You’ve been warned.
In each film, the tomboy daughter, Susan or Hallie, live in good ol’ California. But the 1969 version places Sharon, the posh daughter, in Boston while LiLo jumps across the pond to London. I do love me some Boston, but as a lifelong anglophile, I’ve gotta go with the Brits. Anything involving that accent is instantly more appealing. Cliche? Perhaps. Do I care? Not a bit. British butlers, British brides, British brownstones – all fabulous. Not to mention that adorable scene where LiLo and Natasha Richardson walk across Abbey Road a la The Beatles. Dawww.
Of course, what would this film be without the resident golddiggers, Vicky Robinson and Meredith Blake. Betches. Honestly, this one is a toss-up. Elaine Hendrix nails the loathsome Meredith in the re-make, all blonde bombshell and conniving siren. There are few things as satisfying as seeing her get hazed by some 11-year-olds on the camping trip. Joanna Barnes, who portrays Vicky in the original, doesn’t look the part as much, but damn, is she feisty. Vicky gets kicked to the curb just like Meredith, but she gives one of the twins a big ol’ backhand before doing so. Girl don’t mess.
Happily Ever After
The 1969 version leaves us with the parents confessing their love and making out in the kitchen. I mean, okay, sure, points for realism. But it just wouldn’t be a successful love story without an unrealistic ending to raise my expectations for every real relationship I’ll ever have. There’s just nothing quite as wonderful as the completely nonsensical romantic gesture of hopping a last minute Concorde flight (pocket change, really) and beating your ex back to London. I swoon.
After watching each version back-to-back, I’ve gotta give this one to Lindsay. I know, I know, maybe I just love the ’90s. Sue me. Maybe I just want to see Lindsay do well at something, anything these days. But we must give credit where credit is due. So happy birthday, Hayley Mills! Thanks for showing our young LiLo how it’s done.