Leaving a notorious trail of arson behind them, the St. Trinians schoolgirls are always on the move. When we last saw them in The Pure Hell of St Trinian’s (1960), they burned down their school building.
But their headmistress, Amber Spottiswood (Dora Bryan inadequately filling Alistair Sim’s shoes), is more than “just friends” with the Minister of Schools, Sir Horace (Raymond Huntley), so armed with a government grant, she re-houses her girls in yet another home, this time at Hamingwell Grange.
What she doesn’t know is that the Great Train Robbers have got there before her and left £2.5 million hidden under the ballroom stage.
Amber rounds up her staff: The Deputy Head, Miss Radnage (Barbara Couper), is collected from Holloway Prison; the maths mistress Miss Bledlow (Elspeth Duxbury), drops six aces and leaves the poker table; the French mistress Mademoiselle Albertine (Carole Ann Ford) vacates her premises and takes down her notice “French model – third floor”; the games mistress Magda (Maggie McGrath) releases her wrestling opponent in the ring; and the art mistress Susie Naphill (Margaret Nolan) finishes her striptease in double-quick time.
A couple of delinquent young ladies – Marcia (Maureen Crombie) and Lavinia (Susan Jones) – are entered on the register by an oaf called Alfred Askett (Frankie Howerd), who masquerades under the name ‘Alphonse of Monte Carlo’ as a gents hairdresser in his salon on Chiswick High Road.
He is the mastermind behind the train robbery whose booty is hidden in the school, and his daughters – Marcia (Maureen Crombie) and Lavinia (Susan Jones) – are sent to St Trinian’s to help him get the money out. But the plan misfires when other St Trinian’s girls accidentally stumble across the loot.
Alphonse now has quite a battle on his hands.
It’s a slow-starting but eventually heartily funny skit on the famous train robbery, with the girls of St Trinians eventually driving – literally so, in a slapstick climax with trains running up and down the down and up lines – the gang into chaos and surrender.
Richard Wattis does sterling work as the man from the ministry, but, try as they might, Dora Bryan, Reg Varney and Stratford Johns (providing the booming voiceover) can’t hold a candle to the much-missed Alastair Sim and Joyce Grenfell.
George Cole makes a welcome though brief appearance as Flash Harry. Appearing as Georgina, the sexy leader of the sixth form, is Portland Mason, the daughter of actor James Mason. Dolly bird Sally Geeson makes an (uncredited) appearance as a schoolgirl.
Schoolgirls from a Catholic convent school in Altona, Hampshire, were used as extras in the film – the first of the St Trinian’s series to be filmed in colour.
Alfred Askett/Alphonse of Monte Carlo
Minister (Sir Horace)
William (Willy the Jelly Man)
Carole Ann Ford
Maggie Rennie (as Maggie McGrath)