The first and best of a series of films based on the cartoons of Ronald Searle depicting a demonic girl's school, 1954's The Belles Of St Trinians
is a pleasantly anarchic romp. However, it's indebted to film makers Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat's own, wittier 1950 movie The Happiest Days Of Our Lives
, which also featured Alastair Sim and Joyce Grenfell in starring roles. Here, Grenfell again sparkles as a clumsy young bluestocking. She's a police sergeant gone undercover to investigate the dubious goings on at Millicent Fritton's establishment for young ladies, which turn out to include the use of a chemistry lab as a liquor distillery and low tactics on the hockey field which are rather less than jolly. The plot involving the nobbling of an Arab Sheikh's racehorse is negligible, while the schoolgirls shine en masse rather than as individuals. George Cole is a decent spiv but it's Sim who carries the day in a dual role as dodgy bookie and his sister, headmistress Ms Fritton. Sim's performance is a wonderfully plausible tour de force
of female impersonation, which considerably outshines later such efforts by the likes of Dustin Hoffman (Tootsie
)and Robin Williams (Mrs Doubtfire
). --David Stubbs
The Belles of St Trinian's is a classic comedy film set in the fictional St Trinian's School, released in 1954, directed by Frank Launder and written by Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat. Featuring a star cast of British comedy talent including - Alastair Sim as both Miss Millicent Fritton and Clarence Fritton, Joyce Grenfell, George Cole, Beryl Reid and many others. This 60th anniversary edition has been fully restored, plus features brand new extra content.
The unruly schoolgirls of St. Trinian’s are more interested in men and mischief than homework and hockey. But greater trouble beckons when the arrival at the school of Princess Fatima of Makyad coincides with the return of recently expelled Arabella Fritton, who has kidnap on her mind.
The Girls of St Trinian’s
Interview with Alistair Sim’s Daughter - Merlith McKendrick
Interview with Geoff Brown - film historian
Interview with Steve Chibnall – Professor of British Cinema, De Montfort University
Interview with Melanie Williams - Senior Lecturer in Film Studies UEA