Reviewed by: Brett Willis
|Featuring||Hayley Mills, Dean Jones, Dorothy Provine, Roddy McDowall, Neville Brand|
This film features Hayley Mills at age 19, in a transitional stage from extraordinary child star to ordinary adult actress. Her performance and the film in general are inferior to her earlier Disney work such as “Pollyanna” and “The Parent Trap”, but still quite good. I haven’t seen the remake; I’m satisfied with this and other Mills films as they are.
Patti Randall (Mills) and her older sister Ingrid (Dorothy Provine) are at home alone while their parents are away on a trip. Their Siamese cat, “D.C.”, comes back from his nightly prowl with his collar replaced by a woman’s watch with part of the word HELP scratched on the back. Patti guesses (correctly) that the watch belongs to a kidnapped bank teller who’s been on the news. But she has to convince FBI agent Zeke Kelso (Dean Jones) and his superiors to continue to follow the “cat angle” on that case until D.C. can lead them to the crooks.
Content: This is basically a comedy with a good supporting cast including Roddy McDowall, Elsa Lanchester, William Demarest and Ed Wynn. It features quite a bit of misdirection, slapstick and sight gags. There’s no profanity except when Patti explains that her father’s name for D.C. actually isn’t “Darn” and the viewer is left to figure out what it really is. There’s no sexual content; all the characters act properly, even at the drive-in movies and at home with no parents around. Lanchester, as the next-door busybody, suspects the girls of entertaining men inappropriately; but what’s really happening is that the FBI uses the Randall house as the “cat tracking station.” At one point Patti fabricates evidence in order to keep the Feds on the case (not a good example to follow). And although this is supposed to be light-hearted comedy, the two crooks do intend to murder their hostage. The lead crook is played by Neville Brand, who was Al Capone on the 1959-63 “Untouchables” TV series, and he’s convincingly threatening. Some children under age 10 or so may be frightened by him and his partner. But the mood of the film is such that we know the bad guys will eventually get caught and the captive rescued. Overall, it’s a good evening of fun.