Wednesday, 7 December 2016

The Pure Hell of St Trinian's (1960)

St Trinian's fourth form have pulled off their greatest accomplishment yet: they've managed to burn down the whole school.  Though successfully prosecuted by the crown for their malfeasance, the girls escape punishment when the judge (who is smitten by one of the sixth formers) accepts the offer of one Professor Canford of the University of Baghdad to fund the establishment of a new school to rehabilitate the "poor, misguided children".

If the generosity of Canford's offer seems a tad suspicious to you then congratulations, you are officially smarter than any of the characters in this film.  He's the somewhat-unwitting dupe of a Middle Eastern sheikh, who plans to kidnap the entire sixth form to act as brides for his many sons.

Of course, when word of this makes it back to England, both the authorities and - rather more effectively - the fourth form swing into action to effect a rescue.

By the third film in a series, the core concept is often starting to wear a little thin.  This is certainly the case with The Pure Hell in St Trinian's.  You'll be hard-pressed to find an original joke in the whole thing, and at least one sub-plot is pretty much recycled-in-whole from the previous movie.  Now at the time of the film's original release this was probably much less apparent.  It had been three years since the preceding film in the series, after all, and the days of VCRs - let alone DVDs and streaming services - were still in the future.  The common schticks between the movies are much more apparent when you're watching them within the space of a few weeks, as I am.

Even without easy access to the immediately preceding films, though, this is not a terribly good movie.  The sheikh's plot is really very icky if you think about it for even a few seconds, since it boils down to the kidnap and attempted rape of young women.  I know 1960 was a different age, but I'm still surprised this was considered appropriate material for a "family friendly" comedy series.

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