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Customer Review

HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 7 January 2008
Probably the weakest of the superb Frank Launder & Sidney Gilliat '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 like my teenage daughter seem to rate these new films far more highly (she has happily watched this old Great St Trinians Train Robbery movie once though and quite enjoyed it). 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 old St Trinians films and is now finally available on DVD .
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