As a Hollywood powerhouse, Disney is superb at heralding its successes and hiding its oddities. Certain, we have all seen Magnificence and the Beast, Mary Poppins, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. However tucked deep contained in the Disney Vault are extra obscure titles, like The Black Cauldron, In Search of the Castaways, and The Three Lives of Thomasina. Some are merely unhealthy. Others are bizarre. In some instances, just like the gloriously campy The Watcher within the Woods, it is each.
But Disney’s strangest film was additionally certainly one of its largest hits. I am speaking about The Father or mother Lure, the 1961 comedy starring Hayley Mills. Throughout its preliminary theatrical run, the movie earned $25 million, which quantities to roughly $200 million at this time. That is some huge cash for a film that, whereas on its floor is a enjoyable household romp, is definitely bonkers.
It is so bonkers that when it got here time to jot down The Last Time I Lied, the follow-up to my bestselling thriller, Ultimate Women, I selected to set it at an all-girls Summer season camp not not like the one in The Father or mother Lure. It appeared becoming for a ebook about secrets and techniques and lies, contemplating how the film is essentially the most twisted factor Disney’s ever made.
Simply how twisted is it? Let me depend the methods.
(Creator’s word: In all instances, I am referring solely to the 1961 movie and never the 1998 version starring Lindsay Lohan.)
- Based mostly on a 1949 German novel, Das Doppelte Lottchen, The Father or mother Lure is about two women named Susan and Sharon who meet for the primary time at Summer season camp. They give the impression of being precisely alike. They sound precisely the identical. But nobody in camp appears to search out this unusual, least of all the women themselves. Relatively than simply method one another and say, “Hey, we appear to be twins – what’s up with that?” the women embark on a sequence of escalating pranks that result in chaos throughout a elaborate formal dance with a close-by boys’ camp. As punishment, Sharon and Susan are compelled to bunk collectively in an remoted cabin. It is solely then, throughout a uncommon second of bonding, that they understand, “Hey, we appear to be twins as a result of we’re!”
- It seems that Susan and Sharon’s dad and mom divorced once they have been infants. As a result of the divorce was so acrimonious, those self same dad and mom determined that fairly than share custody, it was finest to separate the twins up and by no means inform them that they’ve a sister. I am unable to stress how mind-bogglingly messed-up that’s. We’re speaking Lois Duncan ranges of twistedness. In reality, it is only one incestuous brother away from coming into V.C. Andrews territory.
- As a substitute of confronting their dad and mom about mendacity to all of them their lives, Susan and Sharon determine the very best plan of action is to impersonate one another at Summer season’s finish. So posh bookworm Sharon pretends to be Susan and goes to reside with hunky dad Brian Keith in California. Cool child Susan, in the meantime, is whisked to Boston to reside in haughty splendor with elegant mother Maureen O’Hara. And whereas that situation has all the trimmings of a splendidly juicy YA thriller, the film goes a special route. Hijinks ensue, suspicions are raised, and all events concerned reunite.
- Once more, fairly than confront their dad and mom, Sharon and Susan hatch a brand new plan: to get the household again collectively by ending their father’s engagement to a youthful girl. At no level do the women cease and say, “Hey, seeing how they hated one another a lot that they determined to separate us at start, perhaps getting our dad and mom again collectively is not a good suggestion.” Nor do they cease to contemplate that, seeing how she’s the one grownup of their lives who hasn’t lied to them, perhaps the fiancée is not so unhealthy in spite of everything. As a substitute, they drive her away with the identical pranks they used at camp.
- Each dad and mom, in the meantime, show an odd lack of regret for, you now, spinning a lifelong internet of lies. You’d assume certainly one of them may really feel responsible about agreeing to by no means see certainly one of their daughters once more. However aside from a number of throwaway traces, it is by no means addressed in depth. What the entire household wants is a long time of remedy. What the film provides them is a catchy duet between Hayley Mills and Hayley Mills and one other tenting journey earlier than coming in for a hasty, glad ending. If you would like realism, this is not the place to search out it.
Bonus Cultural Oddity
“Let’s Get Collectively,” the track Sharon and Susan sing for his or her dad and mom, really is a winner. Radio listeners on the time agreed, turning it right into a Prime 10 hit for Hayley Mills within the Fall of 1961.
Bonus Conspiracy Principle
Nobody – and I imply nobody – notices that although Susan and Sharon grew up in California and Boston, respectively, each communicate with a British accent. The film fails to convey it up as properly, main me to assume Sharon and Susan’s dad and mom cut up them up and by no means informed them about one another as a result of THEY AREN’T THEIR REAL PARENTS.
Give it some thought. There’s zero purpose to not inform Sharon and Susan that they’ve a twin sister except there’s extra to cowl up. Maybe the women have been kidnapped at start, in all probability from a London hospital, and smuggled abroad. Again within the US, their kidnappers determined the very best probability of not getting caught was to separate up the twins and reside on reverse coasts. Their solely mistake was by chance sending them to the identical Summer season camp at the very same time.
I, for one, love this concept. It yanks the film from the realm of family-friendly enjoyable into the YA thriller style the place it rightfully belongs, making it not simply twisted however really devious.
Riley Sager is the writer of the worldwide bestseller Ultimate Women. His newest novel, The Last Time I Lied, is out July three.