Tuesday 27 November 2018

Carrying On with … The Pure Hell of St Trinian's!

I've recently written a great deal about some of the other great series of British comedy films, such as the Norman Wisdom comedies and the Doctor films, and how the Carry Ons made an impression in these lovely films. I've now decided to write about another legendary set of films, the St Trinian's films. Set in the fictional unruly all girls private school somewhere in England, the films followed their adventures and those of both the staff of the school, the law enforcers chasing after them and the education department who frequently despaired of what they got up to!

The films featured countless wonderful performances and will always be synonymous with a handful of timeless actors. So without further ado, let's continue on today with a look at the third film in the series, The Pure Hell of St Trinian's from way back in 1957, over sixty years ago!

What's it about?

The St. Trinian's Girls burn down the school building and are, subsequently, put on trial, found guilty, and await sentencing the next day by Judge Slender. This leads to rejoicing at the Ministry of Education, and in Barset, the school's village home, where Sergeant Ruby Gates and Superintendent Samuel Kemp-Bird can finally plan their marriage, which is predicated on the end of St. Trinian's. However, beautiful Sixth-Form pupil Rosalie Dawn  has been flirting with Slender during the trial, where she gives him her telephone numbers, and continues flirting at the sentencing session. Consequently, when Professor of Philosophy Canford of the University of Baghdad suggests that, rather than punishment, the girls need sympathy, and explains that he has funds to buy a new school building, and with the help of noted educator Matilda Harker-Packer, the girls can be rehabilitated, Judge Slender ignores the guilty verdict and gives him a year to accomplish his aims. This causes dismay at the Ministry, where Butters, on the advice of his psychiatrist, does a pastoral dance to calm his nerves. The revival of St. Trinian's also means the end of Gates' and Kemp-Bird's marriage plans. The girls, led by Prof. Canford, new Headmistress Harker-Packer, and the new teaching staff, move into the former Hannington Manor, now the new St. Trinian's school building.

Who's in it?

Without the great Alastair Sim on board as Miss Fritton, the remainder of the original cast, George Cole and Joyce Grenfell take centre stage as Flash Harry and Sergeant Ruby Gates.  Joining the cast is legendary actor Cecil Parker playing Professor Canford.

Carry On faces?

The main star of the film, Cecil Parker, of course had a cameo role in Carry On Jack in 1963. Returning from the previous film is Carry On Sergeant, Constable and Spying star Eric Barker, again playing Culpepper-Brown. Irene Handl (Nurse, Constable) returns to the series following her appearance as a teacher in The Belles in 1954. This time she plays Headmistress Miss Harker-Packer.

Two Carry On stars who were also the best of friends in real life also pop up in Pure Hell. Sid James plays Alphonse O'Reilly while Liz Fraser plays WPC Susan Partridge. Cyril Chamberlain, an actor who appeared in countless films in this era, turns up as an Army Captain while future Carry On Cleo actor Warren Mitchell plays a Tailor.

Finally, two future Carry On actresses turn up in small uncredited roles. Sally Douglas, a small part player in the likes of Carry On Cleo and Carry On Cowboy, plays a Harem Girl while future Carry On Cowboy and The Big Job actress Edina Ronay has an uncredited role as Lavinia. 

Did you know? 

This was Joyce Grenfell's last appearance in the series - she would not return for The Great St Trinian's Train Robbery six years later.

Sid James had appeared in a cameo role in The Belles of St Trinian's way back in 1954 but his return here is a completely different character.

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