“And you’re sure he always goes out at midnight?”
“Oh yes. Unless of course it’s one of his contrary nights.”
… and right there you have in a nutshell why this original is better than the 1997 remake with Christina Ricci (though I do love that version still). The way Hayley Mills delivers lines like that (another fave is the way she tells Kelso early on, “My cat came home last night wearing a wrist watch,” “Wearing a wrist watch?” “Yeh.”) is just pricelessly deadpan. I’m running out of old movies of hers to watch for the first time now, and I should probably save them really, ‘cos they’re always a pleasant surprise.
At 2 hours, this Disney feature already looks a little heavy, and until she shows up – even after, to an extent – this is actually a much more serious take on what amounts to a fairly ridiculous story. During the first scene – where we see the bad guys (uber-serious heavies Neville Brand and Frank Gorshin) talking around the tied up bank teller – you’d really be forgiven for thinking what you’re watching is far from a Disney movie for kids. These aren’t the butterfingered bad guys you usually get in these things (and the remake). Later on we witness DC separate a dead duck’s head from its body. It’s all almost a little shocking, lol.
But it’s also tons of fun. Mills once again kinda-sorta attempts an American embellishment on her accent, though it’s far less conspicuous than The Truth About Spring, and is almost mirrored by Dorothy Provine, who is perfectly cast as her sister. When the two of them are together onscreen, it wouldn’t matter if the movie was 12 hours long, it’d still pass like lightning.
Quite the perfect thing to warm up a cold dark Christmas evening. It really doesn’t demand a lot of attention, too, which is exactly what I needed after 4 hours of Russian, lol.