Customer Review

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not quite up to the standard of the classic Belles of St Trinians [1954] and it's sequel - but well worth a look, 7 Jan. 2008
This review is from: St. Trinians - The Great St. Trinians Train Robbery [DVD] (DVD)
Probably the weakest of the superb 'St Trinians' film series and actually not helped by being in colour. That said, it's by no means unwatchable, and can raise a few titters. Made a few years after the real Great Train Robbery, the films plot revolves around the schoolgirl's trying to foil an attempt by train robbers to recover two and a half million pounds hidden in their school - surely though it's the girls who should be the criminal masterminds, although this lot wouldn't last 5 minutes against their older schoolmates from the original movie. While the first, far darker film 'The Belles of St Trinians' [1954], with Alistair Sims, Joyce Grenfell & George Cole, is essential viewing, this final outing is more in the 'carry on' mould - although it's none the worse for that and does have a real period charm. Sadly Alistair Sims declined to continue his headmistress role in the sequel Blue Murder at St Trinians [1956] other than a short cameo, although this is made up for by the inclusion of the superbly caddish Terry Thomas.

The St Trinians films are based on the 1940/50s dark (but very funny) cartoons of Ronald Searle, which were themselves inspired by Edinburgh's real St Trinneans School [1920] where discipline was encouraged to be self rather than school imposed - leading to the jibe that the girls were taught to do whatever they want. Searle met a few former pupils during the war and the cartoons evolved from his jokes with them (The real school closed in 1946 when the headmistress retired). For the original Searle cartoons, see the book St. Trinian's: The Entire Appalling Business.

Assuming you fancy this movie, I'd buy the good value four film The St Trinians Collection DVD set, where you get the original three classic B&W St Trinian movies as well [although none of these St Trinians DVDs have subtitles or any extras to speak of). This set has the 2nd sequel Pure Hell of St Trinians [1957] thats so-so but still well worth watching (it's actually worth owning just for the superb first few opening scenes). All these films were made by the great Frank Launder & Sidney Gilliat team (Blue Lagoon, The lady Vanishes, Happiest days of your life, etc..), and the first three St Trinians are at least the equal of the best Ealing Comedies - but this last 1966 one is more like a decent 'Carry On' movie. The riotous finale train chase sequence drags on a touch, but the movie's earlier caricature of Britain in the 1960s is often delightful [particularly to those like me who remember the era as a child - I was 10 when I saw this movie at first release in 1966].

It's got a top notch enthusiastic Brit cast as well, e.g. George Cole, Dora Bryan, Frankie Howard, Reg Varney, Richard Wattis, Eric Barker, Stratford Johns, and Arthur Mullard [Joyce Grenfell sadly refused to take part] - and although the schoolgirls get a back seat to the film's adult stars, I still prefer this movie to the latest slicker 2007 'St Trinians' [that featured the girls a tad more] - although younger viewers seem to rate these new films more highly. Also check out Frank Launder & Sidney Gilliat's earlier [1950] school-comedy movie The Happiest Days Of Your Life starring Alastair Sim and Margaret Rutherford that's very sympathetic to these St Trinians films and is now finally available on DVD .
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 1 Nov 2013 07:56:28 GMT
Last edited by the author on 1 Nov 2013 08:16:50 GMT
Keith_Joseph says:
Frank Launder wrote and directed a fifth St Trinians film released in 1980 entitled 'The Wildcats of St Trinians', which starred Sheila Hancock, Michael Hordern, Rodney Bewes, Maureen Lipman (who predictably recreates the Joyce Grenfell character), and Julia McKenzie. Apparently, despite the top notch cast list, it was rather poor and sadly sank without trace - shame it isn't included in the The St Trinians Collection (4 DVD Box) set for completeness though.

Today's youngsters far prefer the new St Trinians movies: St Trinian's (2007) and St Trinian's 2 - The Legend Of Fritton's Gold (2009) which successfully rebooted the series for 21st century UK kids. Although my daughter [16] did enjoy watching this old 'The Great St Trinians train robbery' and 'Blue murder at St Trinians' films once, she rated the original 'The belles of St Trinians' (my fave) the lowest, as she wasn't interested in its horse racing theme. Still there's always room on the shelf for both these St Trinians DVD sets (so C+ for effort girls!).
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