Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Parent Trap (1961) Title Sequence

If you've been keeping tabs of my latest posts, you've probably noticed the Disney theme I have going. I didn't intentionally do this, it just kind of happened. I'm going to go with this Disney theme until it runs its course and run a summary at the end of it. I'm actually really glad that I'm in a Disney mood, because I have a couple "weak" (artistically-speaking) posts, but enjoyable nonetheless. I think you'll enjoy them.

As you know, I love a great title sequence. Add a little animation into it, and I'm sold on the movie. Especially when the film is as good as the (original) Parent Trap (1961). I'm not going to say I don't enjoy the Lindsay Lohan '90s remake, but you'd have to be insane to think that it surpasses the original. I think what's best about The Parent Trap is that it's such a sharp film- it's universally funny to all audiences- parents and kids alike, and who can argue with its adorable story line. Besides, with Hayley Mills, Maureen O'Hara, and Brian Keith starring, the film is brought to a whole other level due to the superior acting talent involved.



The Parent Trap begins with a really wonderful title sequence, which I think underscores just how great the magnitude of artistic talent was at Disney during the '50s and '60s, the period that I consider as the "Golden Age" for Disney. The Parent Trap is, of course, a live-action film. There is no animation involved, but it begins with an animated title sequence set to the titular song, The Parent Trap (written by the fantastic Sherman Brothers).


The title sequence is really a series of animated scenes that, when strung together, roughly resemble the plot to come. It starts with a lightning bolt that ushers in a pseudo-sampler that reads "God Bless our Broken Home," introducing the initial element of divorce. There are two distinct elements to the sequence. The titles usually come up on a patterned background, accompanied by these two mischievous cherubs. Between the sequences, there are these scenes of an angry couple. The couple under a tree (with two sisters at the top of the tree). The couple angrily eating breakfast. The couple on the couch. The couple on a parkbench, falling for each other. The couple at the beach, bumping into each other due to the plotting of the two little girls.



It's really very cute. The animations look like a mix of stop motion and paper-cut figures. The figures are really quite stunning. For the most part, they're only the roughest of caricatures. Actually, the only figures that resembles the corresponding actor is the woman, whose red curls are vaguely reminiscent of Maureen O'Hara. But for the most part, genders aside, the figures could be anyone.




To a modern audience, the title sequence serves two purposes. First, as it originally intended, it provides the audience with the basic background (a divorced couple with daughters, mischief, set-ups, etc). But on a more contemporary note, the figures have this very funny, unique '60s look. You can tell from the title sequence that this is an older picture, just from the style of animation used. The figures actually kind of remind me of the more vintage areas of Disneyland and Disney World- I'm thinking of "It's a Small World" in particular.



The scene is thanks to the talents of three men in particular: T. Hee, Bill Justice, and Xavier Atencio, all Disney legends who worked extensively for the studio, as far as I know. I have to say, they really did an excellent job. You finish watching the title sequence and you're all ready for a nice little, family-friendly romantic comedy. And if a title sequence can prepare for a film, it's done its duty. What more can you ask for?


NOTE: I've included most stills from the sequence (not all in chronological order) for you because I know it is not well documented on the internet. 

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