The Pure Hell of St. Trinian's (1960) - Can't Stop the Movies
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The Pure Hell of St. Trinian’s (1960)

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Danny DISLIKEOkay, let me start off with the easy joke: the title for this entry is eerily accurate. I couldn't really think of a better title: Pimpin' At St. Trinian's Ain't Easy During the Production Code Years, or: How I Learned to Start Drinking Heavily Through The Course of Watching These Movies is about the closest I can get, and it seems a bit ungainly.

The movie begins with a number of Fourth Forms burning St. Trinian's to the ground; mind you, so far in these movies the girls are utterly devoted to the institution, and love their headmistress and the freedom that such a liberal school affords them. In this chapter, one of the girls plays the jazz fiddle while the flames climb up to the sky, while a few other girls change the firemen's hoses from the hydrant to the gasoline truck someone has apparently decided to park nearby. I could be wrong, but that sounds fairly preventable.

This leads to one of the film's only amusing bits, as the entire school is put on trial for the school's arson. They overflow the defendants box, and generally make an idiot out of everyone involved. One Fourth Form explains, "Morals is not going out with boys after dark." The judge even gives them to a nice new headmaster for a probationary period after a shapely Sixth Form passes him her digits.

The new Headmaster has worked out a plan to sell the Sixth Forms to an Arab sheik who wants them as wives for his twenty six sons. If that sentence seems to lay too much you at once, don't worry, the movie will drag this out for seventy minutes. We have a few amusing bumps (the school puts on a show to demonstrate how they've reformed and one girl does Hamlet's soliloquy while stripping) mixed in among the dreariness (if you're like me and are completely repulsed by Flash Harry, boy are you in for a treat...).

The worst of it is the return of the policewoman storyline from the last two movies. Sergeant Ruby Gates is on year sixteen of her engagement, and it looks like the inspector will finally have to make due on his promise to wed once Trinian's is burned to the ground. The movie is too wacky to let that happen, and instead he attempts to have Ruby murdered once more by sending her again to the crazy school to follow them on their trip to Saudi Arabia.

If this plot line wasn't inane in the previous film (it was), we have two new wrinkles: the inspector himself is shown to be carrying on an affair with a beautiful new intern, and Gates herself again meets a charming young man undercover. This time, though, she meets the Headmaster who is obviously just seducing her so that she won't arrest him for the crimes he's committing. So instead of a semi-sweet romance like we made due with in the last film, we get this poor woman who is dating a louse and being seduced by a lout.

Ruby Gates is a completely inoffensive character! She's sweet and loyal. She manages to survive three encounters with St. Trinian's, and, while she doesn't exactly earn the girls' respect, she earns Flash Harry's (his loyalty to the girls and his niceness to Ruby are probably his only redeeming traits), and at the end of the film she manages to become a national hero by saving the girls from the mad sheik's sons.

She almost gets her wedding, but the girls return and set their school on fire yet again. The inspector grins and leaves Ruby at the alter.

Who in God's name thinks that this is funny? The treatment of the Gates character and of all of the girls as irredeemable but faceless twerps seems to indicate a complete lack of belief in female authority; that all of the headmistresses in the last two films have been played by men in drag only underlines, bolds, italicizes, and 42 point fonts it.

There's more to this film. Gates, the headmaster, and Harry get stuck on a deserted island. They run into several ministers from the Ministry of Education who-- so hilariously-- resort to ballet whenever Trinian's is brought up. They figure out how to find the sheik's place when they find one Sixth Form who was abducted by a cabin boy on their yacht. She's been forced to be a fan dancer, and after our main character's pump the information from her in a wackily tight dressing room, they hurry off to save the day.

Um, what about the girl?

Okay, whatever. This movie is terrible. You shouldn't waste your time on it. You shouldn't even waste your time reading this review (sorry, guess that should have been at the beginning of the article). Get away from this webpage as fast as you can and forget.


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The Pure Hell of St. Trinian's (1960)

This film (IMDB) is currently available on DVD.

Directed by Frank Launder
Starring George Cole

Posted by Danny

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  1. Hello Danny, enjoyed reading your article – do you know what the music is in the ballet sequence, danced to by the police and officials, to relax, in the film?
    Thank you for your time

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