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Great St Trinian’s Train Robbery (1966, Frankie Howerd, Reg Varney)

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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.

production details
Country: UK
Release Year: 1966

Director: Sidney Gilliat, Frank Launder
Writers: Sidney Gilliat, Frank Launder, Leslie Gilliat (from the characters created by Ronald Searle)

cast
Frankie Howerd as Alphonse of Monte Carlo / Alfred Askett
Reg Varney as Gilbert
Norman Mitchell as William
Raymond Huntley as Sir Horace, the Minister
Dora Bryan as Amber Spottiswood
George Cole as ‘Flash’ Harry
Colin Gordon as Noakes
Richard Wattis as Manton Bassett
Cyril Chamberlain as Maxie
Eric Barker as Culpepper Brown
Arthur Mullard as Big Jim
Larry Martyn as Chips
Terry Scott as Policeman
Portland Mason as Georgina
Godfrey Winn as Truelove
Desmond Walter-Ellis as Leonard Edwards
Leon Thau as Pakistani Porter

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