THE TRUTH ABOUT SPRING is a pleasing 1965 lark showcasing Hayley Mills, her dad John, and James MacArthur, designed for young audiences of the era, with some nostalgic pull going for it today among fans who grew up with Mills and MacArthur in their Disney films. At 18, she gets “her first screen kiss” from MacArthur, still so youthful looking he could play naive at 27. It’s a likeable group to spend some extra time with.
Here, father John plays the rascal, free-breezing owner of a little sailboat, lazily plying the Caribbean with his tomboyish daughter. Vacationing with a rich uncle (David Tomlinson), budding lawyer MacArthur impromptu joins the pair for some weeks of lollygagging. The trio engages in some mild treasure-adventure with humorously roguish competitors and of course a romance is struck between the young people.
102 minutes of leisure, broadly but pleasingly played, and spiced by supporting work from villain-lite types hammed up by cagey pros Lionel Jeffries, Harry Andrews and Niall MacGinnis. Jeffries is most amusing. Nice, clean, old-fashioned material, though you almost get done in early from insistent scoring by Robert Farnon, which sees fit to cute-things-up and overboard. It’s supposed to be the Caribbean, but was filmed off Spain’s Costa Brava and if you’re savvy you might aha!-recognize those beaches & rocks from Mysterious Island and The Three Worlds Of Gulliver.
James Lee Barrett adapted from a 1921 novel by Henry De Veer Stacpoole, who penned a daunting ninety-three books between 1894 and 1949, the most famous being “The Blue Lagoon”. The title for this one was “Satan: A Romance Of The Bahamas”, but The Truth About Spring had a less spooky sound to it.
Directed by Richard Thorpe, this character comedy served as a coming-of-age pic for both Hayley and James. She began to branch out into adult roles in pictures like The Chalk Garden, Sky West And Crooked (directed by her father), and The Family Way and MacArthur likewise landed supporting gigs in The Bedford Incident and Battle Of The Bulge (his 11-year run on Hawaii Five-O started in ’68).
No figures on grosses to be found, other than US rentals of $1,500,000,which suggest a gross probably twice that and more, with overseas revenue likely making for a tidy profit. When they did the advertising for the film, they couldn’t quite decide what age & crowd to pitch, as the posters below suggest.