Something a wee bit different this time out…. Instead of your Favorite Catgirl Princess’ usual fare of the weird and spooky from somewhere waaaaay off in Asia, we’re taking a look at the classic British comedy “The Belles of St Trinian’s” from 1954.
Our synopsis goes something as follows: “The Belles of St. Trinian’s” was the first of several British comedies originally inspired by the fearsome girl’s school created by cartoonist Ronald Searle. In this one, Clarence Fritton, bookie brother of the headmistress Millicent , of St Trinian’s School for Girls, sneaks his daughter into the sixth form to pick up racing tips from the daughter of an Arabic Sheik, the Princess Fatima of Makyad, who’s come to stay at the school. His horse, “Arab Boy”, is due to run in the Gold Cup and is secretly being backed by the fourth form girls, Miss Fritton, and the school funds to win a fortune in the race. Cockney spiv Flash Harry is also on hand to make a profit from the girl’s alcohol producing venture, while to further complicate matters, the Barchester police have planted sergeant Ruby Gates undercover at the school as a teacher, and the Ministry of Education are sending a third inspector down after the previous two disappeared without trace. The racehorse is kidnapped by the sixth form, but rescued and wins – saving St Trinian’s from bankruptcy and closure.“
I originally watched this one on our local Public Broadcasting station way back when…. definitely where you wanted to go when I was a kid to watch all those wonderful British imports….. and this one positively had me in stitches as a lil’ girl…. just the thought of what these wicked little hellions were doing at their school had me wondering just what sort of mischief I might get up to!! PBS…. you almost set me on the path to a crazy life of crime with this one!!
So, gentle readers….. you’ve never heard of St Trinian’s? Well it’s definitely time we fix that!! So… by all means.. “Read On”!!
Directed by Frank Launder and written by him and Sidney Gilliat, this was only the first of a series of four films made about the fictional St Trinian’s School for Girls staring many veteran British actors of the time such as Alastair Sim playing both the character of school headmistress Miss Fritton (in drag… Shades of Milton Berle!!…) and also her nere-do-well brother Clarence Fritton, George Cole played cockney spiv “Flash Harry”, and Joyce Grenfell starred as Policewoman Ruby Gates. Other members of the staff were played by Hermione Baddeley, Renee Houston, Beryl Reid, Irene Handl, Mary Merrall and Joan Sims.
This one, while most definitely very “British” in feel and also very definitely dated by modern standards, still holds up reasonably well even today. The girls are wickedly delightful in their hijinx… sowing both fear and horror among the adults of the film as they roll along like a rampaging band of marauding mongols. I love the arrival scene as the train pulls into Barchester station, all the locals scrambling for cover as if they were about to be attacked by an enemy army!! They aren’t half wrong in that assessment either…. Hehehehe!!
Throughout the enitire film series, St Trinian’s itself is depicted as an extremely unorthodox boarding school where all the younger girls of the Fourth Form are all portrayed as dangerous, uncivilized hooligans and the much older girls of the Sixth Form are all sexy femme fatales, who express their blossoming femininity by turning their schoolgirl uniforms into something sexy and risqué by the standards of the 1950’s , with short skirts that teasingly reveal the tops of the dark stockings that the all the girls wear, and with tight uniform tunics and shirts that accentuate their silhouette, creating the hourglass figure and long legs of the classic 50’s sex symbols, all the better to use their womanly wiles to manipulate the foolish men of the films. In general… the girls of St Trinian’s epitomize the classic view of the naughty schoolgirl that has become such a stereotype even today.
Carolyn had never seen one of these films, and we had a fun time watching my newly acquired DVD of the first of the series. This initial outing is a great little comedy that you can enjoy even if you are a bit lost on some of the “British” elements of the plot. If you’ve ever watched any of the “Carry On” films or old “Benny Hill” episodes… you’ll probably feel right at home. Neko gives it 4 “Meows” out of 5 for it’s fun… it’s exuberance and it’s definite “take no prisoners” role model for young girls….. it’s a “G rated” bit of naughty fun that still tickles the funny bone and brings a smile to your lips just thinking about the antics that ensue when the girls go wild even today.
Trailer? Nope… not a Trailer in sight this time out…. but I’ll keep my lil’ eyes peeled for one and when I do I’ll certainly add it in!