St. Trinian's Swings into the Sixties
First up "The Great St. Trinian's Train Robbery" is by no means a bad movie, but coming 6 years after "The Pure Hell of St. Trinian's" it definitely feels weaker. The essence of what made the St. Trinian's movies so much fun from naughty school girls through to criminals coming a cropper at their hands is still present but with changing times so has the style and the style of "The Great St. Trinian's Train Robbery" just doesn't feel right. From it being in colour through to the sixth formers being less sexy it just feels slightly weaker as does the fact that with the exception of George Cole, Richard Wattis and Eric Barker there are none of the faces which made the first 3 movies so much fun. It means that whilst still an entertaining St. Trinian's movie I sort of wish they hadn't bothered with "The Great St. Trinian's Train Robbery".
With a new Labour Government the Ministry of Schools is looking forward to them closing some private schools and in particular St. Trinian's, who with no school building, are refugees on an army base. So they are less than happy when new Education Minister Sir Horace (Raymond Huntley) decides to provide St. Trinian's with a huge grant and install his very good friend Amber Spottiswood (Dora Bryan - Two a Penny) as the new head mistress. They are not the only ones who are not happy as a group of train robbers lead by Alphonse of Monte Carlo (Frankie Howerd - Carry on Up the Jungle) have hidden their spoils in the vacant Hamingwell Grange only to discover that on their return it has become the newest St. Trinian's school and with teenage tearaways and Flash Harry (George Cole) on the scene it doesn't take long for the robbers loot to be discovered.
Now to be honest "The Great St. Trinian's Train Robbery" has all the components which went to make the previous 3 movies so much fun. We have a bunch of criminals who find themselves coming face to face with the teenage terrors when they return to Hamingwell Grange to collect the loot from a train robbery only to find it now inhabited by the St. Trinian's school. And along with that we have yet another new headmistress in Amber Spottiswood who thanks to a dodgy education minister is exploiting Government funding an employing her friends. And of course we have the ministry of schools once more at their wits end over the troublesome St. Trinian's. Basically we have pretty much identical components that made the previous movies but with slight differences so it's not a rehash.
And as such whilst we have the comedy of the St. Trinian's girls running riot in their new school and once again doing much of their dodgy dealing through Flash Harry everything boils down to the stolen loot with not only the criminals trying to recover but the girls, teachers and of course Flash Harry. It is very typical with a madcap chase element as we have the stolen loot going back and forth on a series of trains with each group trying to out smart each other. Basically you know what to expect and "The Great St. Trinian's Train Robbery" delivers exactly that.
And you also get what you expect from the performances with George Cole once again providing plenty of amusement as Flash Harry. But Cole is not alone as Frankie Howerd is just as much fun as hairdresser and robber Alphonse of Monte Carlo especially when it comes to his hair piece. And to be honest no one puts in a bad performance except with a predominantly new cast it just doesn't feel quite right.
And that is the thing about "The Great St. Trinian's Train Robbery" it just doesn't feel quite right and it's not just because of the change in characters. The biggest problem is that the style has changes, Flash Harry is no longer that much of a dodgy dealer and the girls lack that naughty sexiness as they embrace the swinging sixties. And with this being in colour it also looses some of that old fashioned magic which sounds stupid but it does.
What this all boils down to is that "The Great St. Trinian's Train Robbery" is not a bad movie and basically delivers more of the same which made the first three movies so much fun. But small things such as being in colour and the characters being more in tune with the swinging sixties just makes it feel weaker.