saw this film when it first came out, in July of 1963, when I was
thirteen. It was showing at a theater a couple of miles from my home in
Washington, D. C. I took a bus to the theater but afterwards I had an
urge to walk home, which I did, in a kind of dreamy state. The film is
not a great one but it has a kind of sweetness you don't find in
movies anymore, and a kind of modesty — it wasn't meant to be an
event, just a pleasing way of passing the time on a summer's afternoon
or evening. If you were a kid in 1963 you'd go see any Disney film that
came out, knowing you'd like it, more or less.
on the cusp of puberty then and Hayley Mills was a person of deep
fascination to me. I might not have identified my interest in her as
sexual, consciously, but she was a sexy girl — not just cute but
self-possessed in an alluring way. Her good-natured charm allowed one
access to her female power, made it approachable.
months after this film came out Kennedy would be assassinated and a
few months after that the Beatles exploded on the scene, and the
Sixties officially got going. It's tempting to think that the dream
state this film induced in me, and the long walk home I took in order
to prolong it, arose from a presentiment that this summer would be the
last innocent one of my life — that sex and tragedy and cultural
derangement would soon transform me and transform America.
I was taking a deep breath, perhaps, knowing that the slow climb of the rollercoaster had reached its zenith and that the
delirious fall was about to begin.