The Belles of St. Trinian's (1954) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
8Jul/100

The Belles of St. Trinian’s (1954)

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

Danny INDIFFERENTI'm not quite sure what drew me to watching the entire series of St. Trinian's movies now. Perhaps reading about the new movies in the cycle piqued my interests (there have been two in Britain in recent years starring the venerable Rupert Everett), or maybe I just have a thing for schoolgirls (the older ones, of course), but whatever.

I made the decision to watch through the five 'classic' St. Trinian's films, and no matter how much I regretted this later, watched them I did.

The first movie in most film series tends to be the best; usually you only get sequels if the first one is either popular or a critical darling that's deemed worthy of another chance. With that criteria in mind, The Belles of St. Trinian's (1954) must have made a goddamn fortune.

Starring British comedy star Alastair Sim in a double role as both the school's headmistress and her conniving brother (for no discernible reason), the plot mostly revolves around a new student arriving at St. Trinian's while the police send a frightened officer in after to investigate the place for fraud. The new student is the daughter of an Arab sheik, and her father is backing a much talked about racehorse that keeps the students, the teachers, the beleaguered headmistress, her brother, and an assortment of other lowlifes busy.

The movie does manage a few laughs, all originating from the girls themselves. They're split up into two groups: the Fourth Forms are the younger girls, all who look dirty and shuffle under foot. They're usually up to the more noble mischief, making gin in chemistry class or tooling around with some nitroglycerin. The older girls, the Sixth Forms, are all bubbling under the age of eighteen and wear their skirts up rather high. As opposed to the Fourths, who are every parents nightmare of an unruly mob of violent schoolchildren who know no mercy, the Sixths seem to draw back and prefer to use sex and manipulation as their tools.

And that's about the most you get out of them. None of the girls are given individual personalities... hell, they're barely given names, outside of the two who are directly involved in the plot. And if I do say so, that's probably where a lot of my problem with this film comes from; the girls are all located stage left. While the adult's reaction to these misfits is vaguely amusing, it gets old quickly. The movie might as well be called Reactions to the Girls of St. Trinian's As They're So Terribly Improper, Wot Wot, and the movie suffers for it.

I guess I could take you further into the plot but it's so belabored and so damn stupid that I'd be insulting your intelligence by spelling it out. The plot takes forever to get anywhere, and once it gets there you wish it hadn't even bothered. There are too many characters doing nothing of any interest.

Vile, despicable girls pushing against a stuffy nation absolutely terrified of them sounds like a great comedy, but we're instead served up some junk with horse racing, gambling, saving the school... and, frankly, it's a load of horseshit. And it's really kind of a shame, wot wot.

The Belles of St. Trinian's (1954)

This film (IMDB) is currently available on DVD and from Netflix.

Directed by Frank Launder
Starring Alastair Sim

Posted by Danny

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