Alastair Sim is Wetherby Pond, unyielding headmaster of Nutbourne College, struggling with a wartime blunder which merges his all-male establishment with a girls’ school, led by fearsome Muriel Whitchurch (Margaret Rutherford).
The two head teachers are soon battling for the upper hand with each other and the Ministry, amidst a landscape of dazed, eccentric teachers and a student body whose mischief knows no bounds.
A crisis (or two) forces the pair to work together when they discover they are faced with two troublesome visits on the same day: one from a group of parents who must believe the school is only for girls, and one from the ministry who must be presented with an all-boys establishment.
It’s a perfect vehicle for Sim’s comedy of exasperation, with director Frank Launder expertly juggling the farce, and – in the process – establishing the template for the highly successful St Trinian’s series.
Joyce Grenfell is a standout in one of her archetypal roles as Miss Gossage (“Call me sausage”).
The movie was filmed in Liss, Hampshire, at the village infant school. Real pupils were featured as extras.