In The Great St Trinian’s Train Robbery a gang of crooks led by Alphonse Askett (Frankie Howerd) hide the ill-gotten gains from a train robbery in an empty mansion – which is promptly bought by headmistress Amber Spottiswood (Dora Bryan), with a grant from her old “friend”, Minister of Schools Raymond Huntley, to re-house St Trinian’s. When Askett and his gang arrive to collect their ill-gotten gains from beneath the stage of the ballroom they find the grisly girls in occupation and leave in a sorry state. A change of plan is indicated and Askett sends his two delinquent daughters to the school to case the joint.
Overcoming various problems, the crooks get away with the money on Parents’ Day and load it onto a stolen train. But the schoolgirls get wind of what is happening and set off in pursuit of the criminals in a wild train chase.
Said Launder: “If you have a couple of good-humoured stars in the centre of things, the rest of the cast take their mood from them, and Frankie and Dora were always on top form and a pleasure to work with… we had a lot of fun on that film.” That fun transferred happily to the screen thanks to the inventive screenplay, which neatly divides the action between the crooks (guided by the voice of an unseen Stratford Johns), the men from the ministry and the distinctly unorthodox staff and pupils of St. Trinian’s, among them James Mason’s precocious daughter Portland Mason and honorary alumnus George Cole.
Directors: Frank Launder, Sidney Gilliat
Writers: Frank Launder, Ivor Herbert. Inspired by the drawings of Ronald Searle
Cast: Frankie Howerd, Reg Varney, Raymond Huntley, Dora Bryan, Richard Watting, Eric Barker, George Cole, Arthur Mullard, Portland Mason