Wednesday, 14 December 2016
The Great St Trinian's Train Robbery (1966)
There was a six year gap between The Pure Hell of St Trinian's and this, the fourth film in the franchise. This gave time for any number of new cultural elements to become targets of the film's less-than-subtle parody. The most obvious is - unsurprisingly - The Great Train Robbery of 1963, but it also takes cues from a new film franchise about some chap named "Bond", as well as at British politics of the day. The last of these three, naturally enough, has the least resonance today.
Something else that the march of time brought to the film was colour. This is the first St Trinian's movie that's not in black and white. I guess this was inevitable, eventually.
The film begins with a meticulously-planned robbery of a mail train. This nets £2.5m (about £50m in today's money), but the robbers are forced to conceal the haul in an abandoned building until such time as the "moon and tide are right".
Unfortunately for the crooks, while they await the proper time, various shenanigans are going on at the Ministry of Schools. As a result, the heretofore empty building becomes the new premises of St Trinian's. Two hundred screaming hellions now stand between them and their loot, so some clever plan will be necessary to sneak the cash out. A plan that will doubtless become more complex if any of the girls finds the money beforehand ...
This film was quite successful at the time of its release, and I can see it being moderately entertaining for the young crowd, but the St Trinian's formula does feel a little thin by this time. I think the writers knew that actually, as a great deal of the movie focuses on the crooks and their efforts to get the loot, rather than on the school itself.
Probably for die-hard St Trinian's fans only, I'd say. At least there's no suggestion of sexual violence this time around (though there is some blackface, alas).