“This school has practically reduced me to a nervous wreck!”
An undercover detective (Joyce Grenfell) is sent to investigate the situation at an anarchic boarding school for girls, whose cash-strapped headmistress (Alastair Sim) is betting money on an Arabian racehorse to save her institution. Meanwhile, Sim’s brother (also Alastair Sim) brings his rebellious daughter (Vivienne Martin) back to the school in order to learn more information about the racehorse, which is owned by the recently arrived daughter (Lorna Henderson) of a sultan (Eric Pohlmann).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Alastair Sim Films
- Boarding School
- Get Rich Quick
Based on a popular comic strip series by British satirist Ronald Searle, this first of four films in the popular “St. Trinian’s” series takes place at a boarding school where wild-haired girls run rampant while their vampy teachers smoke cigarettes and schmooze. It will primarily appeal either to those familiar with the strip or fans of Sim, who is in fine comedic mettle here playing dual roles as siblings (though he spends most of his time in drag as Millicent). He’s nicely matched by Grenfell as a determined detective who resorts to ultra-creative evidence gathering in the film’s final moments. Director Frank Launder co-wrote the screenplay with Sidney Gilliat, with whom he had previously scripted The Lady Vanishes (1938) and Night Train to Munich (1940); fans of those earlier classics should be forewarned that this flick is much more broadly slapstick, relying heavily on caricatures and the ridiculousness of a kidnapped horse.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Joyce Grenfell as Sgt. Ruby Gates
No; this one will likely only appeal to fans of Sim or Searle’s work.