Blue Murder at St. Trinian's (1957) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
9Jul/100

Blue Murder at St. Trinian’s (1957)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site Pre-Code.com

Danny DISLIKEIf the first St. Trinian's movie achieved a certain level of tolerable mediocrity, it's almost impressive how quickly the crew decided to jettison all the pieces and instead continue to expand the copious and interminable subplots that dragged the first film down.

The sequel begins with Flash Harry, the bookie and front for the girls in the first film, working out of Italy, trying to sell one of the girls to an interested millionaire. While this smacks highly of, oh, say, prostitution, the movie tries to portray it in a lighthearted tone. That the millionaire can't pick one girl from all their pictures; again, though now vaguely insultingly, none of the girls have their own personality.

The Sixth Forms back home are distressed that the millionaire can't make up his mind, and they decide to scheme their way to Italy to meet him up close and personal. That the Italian millionaire can't be assed to come meet the British bombshells himself speaks well towards any future romantic pairings.

The girls decide that to get to Italy to meet the man, they will have to break into the Ministry of Education and change the results of a contest between the schools as to make it appear that they won a pan-European vacation. There's a long scene of a few dozen girls breaking into the Ministry's vault in a riff on Rififi (1955) that really goes nowhere. But since the Ministry isn't allowed to apply logic to any of actions and must always bend to the will of the screenwriter, they begin to plan St. Trinian's trip.

Of course, everyone at the Ministry has actually been on edge. After the events of the first movie, Alaster Sim's headmistress was sent to jail, and the Royal Marine Corps was actually sent in to try and deal with the girls. This is a nice bit of characterization for the girls were we to actually see the girls do anything. Instead, the army sits in a beleaguered bunker complaining of gunfire and expositioning a bit about what a terror those girls are. However, the Ministry must find the school a new headmistress before the army can back down and the girls can go to Europe.

MEANWHILE (dear God, I'm describing the plot on this one, it could take a while), one of the girls' fathers is a jewel thief, and has absconded his way to the school to elude capture. After the girls went to all the effort to forge the contest, they don't want to go to Europe without a headmistress that they have under their thumb, so they enlist him to put on a petticoat and be their new marm.

This leads to the Ministry having to find someone who's desperate enough to actually drive the nationally famous and reckless girls across Europe. They finally find a man desperate enough, a man with a vaguely shady past but who is trying to do right on this trip. He's played by British comedian Terry-Thomas in a vaguely bittersweet tone.

In the same tone is the policewoman from the first film, Joyce Grenfell plays the woman who barely survived going undercover at St. Trinian's the first time. While it may sound like I'm joking about that, the police inspector who assigns her the job makes it clear that they've lost several officers there before-- never to be seen again. To make matters worse, the inspector is the police woman's fiance, and has been said fiance for the last fourteen years. While I'm sure there's the possibility for humor coming from a woman being intentionally murdered by her prissy and assholish fiance, Grenfell's character is so sweet and the inspector such an inhumane prissy douche that any humor is drained from the situation.

It isn't helped that Thomas and Grenfell fall in love during the long voyage, and that Grenfall decides to leave Thomas at the very end to return to her police inspector fiance for no reason other than pity. He still seems pretty miffed that she survived again; that he is still not the most unappealing character in the film is a truly monumental achievement.

Flash Harry gets my vote on the most unappealing character. His character feels like he's supposed to be a smooth talking lothario, but played here he comes off as a skeezy slimeball; without any major female characters to play against, he's not just a pimp, but a ringleader and master. The women all work at his beck and call as he tries to get them to sexy up and work harder for their invisible millionaire, and the actor goes the whole nine to fully invoke the audience's revulsion.

When those plots have been resolved and everyone goes home in a miserable fashion, this dreary dreary film finally ends. And, sadly, since I wrote these reviews after I watched all of these movies, this series is only going to get much, much worse.

Blue Murder at St. Trinian's (1957)

This film (IMDB) is available on DVD.

Directed by Frank Launder
Starring Terry-Thomas

Posted by Danny

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