Wednesday 30 January 2019

Carrying On with … The Wildcats 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 the last film in the series, The Wildcats of St Trinian's from 1980. 

What's it about?

The girls of St. Trinian's hatch yet another fiendish plot—a trade union for British schoolgirls. Their friend and mentor, Flash Harry, suggests a plan which involves kidnapping girls from other rather more respectable colleges and substituting their own "agents". Thus begins a hilarious, often bloody, battle of wits as the girls meet resistance not only from Olga Vandermeer, their Headmistress, but from the Minister of Education, a private detective, and an oil sheikh. Despite all his desperate efforts to foil the conspiracy, the Minister has to face a growing realisation that the girls' demands will have to be met—for him this will mean a very great and very personal sacrifice.

Who's in it?

The cast includes the wonderful Michael Hordern as Sir Charles Hackforth and Joe Melia (perhaps best remembered for his role in Too Many Crooks with Sid James) as Flash Harry. Thorley Walters, one of the few actors from the original series to appear, takes on the role of Culpepper-Brown.

Wildcats also co-stars the likes of Rodney Bewes as Butters, Julia McKenzie as Miss Dolly Dormancott and Rose Hill as Miss Martingale. Hill is perhaps better known for playing Carmen Silvera's bedridden mother in 'Allo 'Allo.

Carry On faces?

Sheila Hancock leads the cast as headmistress Olga Vandemeer. Sheila had a supporting role in Carry On Cleo, playing Senna Pod, disgruntled wife of Kenneth Connor's Hengist. Maureen Lipman, currently livening up the cobbles of Coronation Street, plays Miss Katy Higgs. Maureen played Countess Esmerelda in the 1992 Carry On comeback, Columbus.

The aristocratic actress Ambrosine Phillpotts plays Mrs Mowbray in the film, her last before her death later that year. Ambrosine had, many years before, appeared briefly in both Carry On Regardless and Carry On Cabby. And finally, the great Rosalind Knight returns to the series following her role as a schoolgirl in Blue Murder back in 1957. This time Rosalind plays Miss Walsh. Rosalind is well known to Carry On fans for her performances as Nurse Nightingale in Carry On Nurse and Felicity Wheeler in Carry On Teacher. 

Did you know? 

It was hoped George Cole would reprise his role as Flash Harry once again however Cole wasn't free. The actor had begun his long running role as Arthur Daley in Minder on television the previous year.

Regular Carry On cinematographer Ernest Steward worked on this film.

The film was sadly not a commercial success and has not even been released on DVD in the UK.

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram

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