Hayley Mills movies made her the consummate Disney star in the '60s: cute, bubbly and precocious. During her six-year run with Disney, Mills starred with some of the biggest names of the time (and opposite herself in The Parent Trap) cementing her place in classic movie history. Her career faltered after she left the studio, but her Disney legacy is worth reliving again and again.
Mills’ first movie with Disney saw her in the title role as Pollyanna
, a girl who could find the silver lining in the stormiest cloud. The role won Mills a special juvenile performance Academy Award and solidified her star status. Watching Pollyanna transform her small town and the lives of its inhabitants - including Jane Wyman, Karl Malden, Donald Crisp, Adolphe Menjou and Agnes Moorehead - is a delight. If you're looking to see your first Hayley Mills film, start at the beginning!
Long before Lindsay Lohan played the dual role of twins trying to reunite their divorced parents, Mills brought twice the fun to the original. The two look-alikes are rivals at summer camp, but when forced to bunk together they discover their matching features are more than coincidence and decide to switch places. Great fun ensues while the twins try to maintain their ruse and fool their parents. Featuring the now-famous Mills (and Mills) "Let's Get Together" duet, The Parent Trap
is a must-see.
Mills hits the high seas In Search of the Castaways
as Mary Grant who, along with her brother (Keith Hamshere) and their odd companion (Maurice Chevalier), head off to find the children's father, believed to be lost at sea. This fun film is filled with all sorts of crazy adventures, including avalanches, earthquakes, fires, floods, and kidnapping, just to name a few. The highlight is a harrowing ride down the side of a mountain, which looks fun for kids of all ages.
is the most sedate of the films that Mills made for Disney. She stars as Nancy Carey, the eldest child of a family in financial trouble following the death of their father. Nancy convinces Osh Popham (Burl Ives), the caretaker for a home in Maine, to let the family stay there for free as they adjust to their new situation and deal with some unexpected twists. Featuring a number of songs by Disney favorites Richard and Robert Sherman, Ives’ song "Ugly Bug Ball" became a huge hit that year.
Taking a more serious turn, The Moon-Spinners
finds Mills overseas on the island of Crete. Nikki Ferris (Mills) and her aunt (Joan Greenwood) are greeted with hostility by local Stratos (Eli Wallach) and when one of the fellow guests at the inn is shot, Nikki is determined to get to the bottom of it. Disney’s attempt at a suspense thriller was a box office bomb. However, it’s far from a horrible movie and the climatic scene where Mills is hanging from a windmill is one of the scariest moments in her Disney films.
Mills returns to a lighter, fluffier plot for her last film with Disney. Patti (Mills) correctly interprets a message on a watch her cat is mysteriously wearing to be from a kidnapped bank teller. Dean Jones stars as the FBI agent who harbors serious doubts – and allergies – about the whole deal. Though Disney remade That Darn Cat
in 1997 (with an appearance by Jones), the original holds strong and is a fitting end to the partnership between Disney and Mills.