While The Moon-Spinners is hardly a great film, it is notable for being much more serious than most live action Disney films. Until the last fifteen minutes or so, when Hayley Mills encounters Pola Negri, Moon-Spinners avoids that winking-slightly-at-the-camera kind of comedy that is the hallmark of so much of the studio's work, especially in the 1960's. Before then, Moon-Spinners finds Mills performing believably as a real young woman rather than as the typical 1960s teenager she was so often asked to play. She's well matched with the talented Joan Greenwood, and as the love interest/mystery man, Peter McEnery is solid without being stiff. Eli Wallach is memorably villainous, one of the few human Disney foes that has real menace. In addition to the fine cast, Moon-Spinners features several memorable scenes, including a scary ride on a windmill's arms and a lively festival in honor of King Minos, and there is some attractive location scenery throughout. Unfortunately, the script is not as tautly written as it needs to be, and there are several turns (especially toward the end) that stretch credulity too far. In addition, the broadness of the Negri sequence is jarring, undercutting the effectiveness of the climax that follows it. Mills would be back in more familiar (and more profitable) territory with her next film, That Darn Cat.
by Craig Butler review