Also, you have a little time for things that have eluded you in the first hectic weeks of teaching teenage heroes again: watching a movie here and there.
On Friday night, it was the original Parent Trap with Hayley Mills in her dual role as young adolescent twin sisters Susan Evers and Sharon McKendrick. In 1961, when The Parent Trap was released, audiences marveled at the special effect of splicing Mills onto opposite sides of the movie frame to give the illusion that she was actually two people.
In 2009, my viewing companions and I marveled at a different thing: spousal domestic abuse by the wife.
I had never watched this movie all the way through. For some reason I had never gotten beyond the peekaboo-dress-cutting scene (I can't explain it-- watch it yourself if you haven't already). This time I was there for the entire 129 minutes, and I mostly stayed awake.
The story of The Parent Trap revolves around the relationship of twins Susan and Sharon, who have been separated at the age of one and divided between their divorcing parents. Susan goes with father Mitch (Brian Keith) and Sharon goes with mother Maggie (Maureen O'Hara).
S&S are reunited at a summer camp, where after a few opening spitfire-works, come to realize they are sisters, and switch places in order to go to the other's home and see their other parent. Soon their scheme matures into a plan to get their parents back together, and as this is a Disney movie, you know the end without it being a spoiler.
Most of this is fun Disney stuff, but there is always a dark side to Mouse House picture-- witness, for example, the disturbing demises of moms in Bambi, Dumbo, and Finding Nemo.
About three-quarters of the way through Trap, divorcees Keith and O'Hara are having an argument in order to establish that they don't get along and that the separation was justified. Then, out of the blue, O'Hara drops Keith with a straight right to the eye, causing him to lose his taciturn rancher persona and transform himself into a whimpering puddle. Purple makeup assures that Keith's shiner is prominent for all to see.
Then, when the couple makes up, Keith says, "You can slug me in the face anytime you want."
Where is the 1950's All-American Macho Man made famous by all those westerns and detective films eaten up by post World War II audiences? Is this the first shot off the bow from the nascent feminist movement? Or is it another instance of well-documented Disney misogyny?
Whatever the answer, The Parent Trap is full of female manipulation, cat-fighting, and nice-nasty hissing and dissing, from Mills' twins themselves and their summer camp buddies (e.g. peekaboo dress-cutting) to O'Hara to Keith's gold-digging girlfriend (Joanna Barnes) and her mother (Linda Watkins), and even Keith's longtime maid (Una Merkel, of the famous "I don't say nothing" line).
It is as if the specter of divorce is so threatening that all femalekind must rise up either to end it or exploit it.
Especially since Brian Keith is loaded with money and looking to get swatted. You don't want to waste that type of horseflesh.
Ye Old Extra Notes
For a more contemporary view of divorce and parent-trap style remarriage, see Mrs. Doubtfire, a Touchstone (Disney) picture. I love Sally Field, I really do.
Here is a gathering of Internet opinions on Disney and dead moms.