|The Great St. Trinian's Train Robbery|
|Directed by|| Sidney Gilliat |
|Produced by||Sidney Gilliat|
|Written by||Frank Launder|
|Starring|| Frankie Howerd |
|Music by||Malcolm Arnold|
|Edited by||Geoffrey Foot|
|Distributed by|| British Lion Films |
The Great St. Trinian's Train Robbery is a British film comedy set in the fictional St Trinian's School, released in 1966, three years after the Great Train Robbery had taken place.It also parodies the technocratic ideas of the Harold Wilson government and its support of the comprehensive school system.
Directed by Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat with a script by Sidney and Leslie Gilliat, it was the last in the original series of four films and the only one to be made in colour.It retained George Cole, Richard Wattis, Eric Barker, Michael Ripper, and Raymond Huntley from the earlier films. Several new actors were brought in, including Frankie Howerd as Alfred (Alphonse) Askett, Reg Varney as Gilbert, Dora Bryan as headmistress Amber Spottiswood, and Stratford Johns as the Voice.
Although she was asked twice, Joyce Grenfell refused to appear again as Sergeant Ruby Gates. Raymond Huntley appeared as the "Minister of Schools" (a fictional title), having appeared in a different role in the earlier films; and Cyril Chamberlain appeared as Maxie.
The extensive use of trick gadgets in Alphonse's hairdressing salon (used to communicate with the gang's mastermind) spoofs the secret gadgets used in the James Bond spy films of the Sixties, while the gimmick of having the mastermind conceal his identity throughout the film (he is never seen on screen) spoofs the character of Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who was originally only an unseen voice.
"Alphonse" Askett (Frankie Howerd) is a hairdresser who is also the operational leader of a gang of crooks who are led behind the scenes by an invisible mastermind (voiced by Stratford Johns). He gives instructions to Askett about the robbery, Operation Windfall, using a variety of James Bond-like communications devices—including a converted showerhead.
The crooks hide the loot in Hamingwell Grange, a deserted country mansion, and after waiting for the hue and cry to die down they return to collect the numerous mailbags which contain £2.5 million (the same amount as in the real robbery). However, following a Labour Party election triumph, the house has been converted into a new home for St Trinian's School for Girls. The crooks decide to infiltrate the school by sending Askett's delinquent daughters, Lavinia and Marcia Mary, to St Trinian's as pupils, with instructions to case the joint to find a means of recovering the money, secretly, from its hiding place. The crooks' subsequent attempt to retrieve the mailbags on Parents' Day, disguised as caterers, results in a climactic train chase between the robbers and the girls.
A sub-plot is the affair between the headmistress of St Trinian's and the Minister, who uses his influence to corruptly obtain a large government grant for re-housing the school, following the latest fire, thus enabling it to move into the mansion. This angers his staff who are normally Conservatives but who, early in the film, are seen excitedly watching Labour win the election, as they believe St Trinians will be shut down by a Labour government.
The railway scenes were filmed on the former Longmoor Military Railway (closed in 1969). In the final railway scene where the girls 'return' the money the British Railways station at Liss can be seen in the background.
The locomotives used were:
The extras on board the St Trinian's train were pupils from a local convent school. In addition, the school used for much of the filming was Little Abbey Preparatory School, near Liss. The school was in fact the other side of the moor from Longmoor. This was previously a boys preparatory school based at Burghclere near Newbury, which had merged with a girls preparatory school at the location at Liss nine months prior to the making of the film
The film was among the 15 most popular movies at the British box office in 1966.
Francis Alick Howard,, better known by his stage-name Frankie Howerd, was an English comedian and comic actor whose career spanned six decades.
St Trinian's is a British gag cartoon comic strip series, created and drawn by Ronald Searle from 1946 until 1952. The cartoons all centre on a boarding school for girls, where the teachers are sadists and the girls are juvenile delinquents. The series was Searle's most famous work and inspired a popular series of comedy films.
Sidney Gilliat was an English film director, producer and writer.
The Pure Hell of St Trinian's is a 1960 British comedy film set in the fictional St Trinian's School. Directed by Frank Launder and written by him and Sidney Gilliat, it was the third in a series of four films.
The Belles of St Trinian's is a British comedy film set in the fictional St Trinian's school, released in 1954. It and its sequels were inspired by British cartoonist Ronald Searle. Directed by Frank Launder and written by Launder and Sidney Gilliat, it was the first of a series of four films.
Blue Murder at St Trinian's is a 1957 British comedy film set in the fictional St Trinian's School. Directed by Frank Launder and written by him and Sidney Gilliat, it was the second of the series of four films. The film stars Terry-Thomas, George Cole, Joyce Grenfell, Lionel Jeffries and Richard Wattis.
Frank Launder was a British writer, film director and producer, who made more than 40 films, many of them in collaboration with Sidney Gilliat.
Liss is an English village and civil parish in the East Hampshire district of Hampshire, 3.3 miles (5.3 km) north-east of Petersfield, on the A3 road, on the West Sussex border. It covers 3,567 acres (14 km²) of semi-rural countryside in the South Downs National Park. Liss railway station is on the Portsmouth Direct Line. The village comprises an old village at West Liss and a modern village round the 19th-century station. They are divided by the River Rother. Suburbs later spread towards Liss Forest.
The Longmoor Military Railway (LMR) was a British military railway in Hampshire, built by the Royal Engineers from 1903 in order to train soldiers on railway construction and operations.
Reginald Alfred Varney was an English actor, entertainer and comedian best known for his television roles on The Rag Trade and On the Buses, appearing in the latter's three spin-off film versions.
Henry Cuthbert Edwards aka Flash Harry is a fictional character from the St. Trinian's series of films who first appears in the 1954 The Belles of St Trinian's and who may also be a spiv. The term refers to "an ostentatious, loudly-dressed, and usually ill-mannered man". The best-known portrayer is George Cole in the 1950s–1960s films.
The Happiest Days of Your Life is a 1950 British comedy film directed by Frank Launder, based on the play by John Dighton. The two men also wrote the screenplay. It is one of a stable of classic British film comedies produced by Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat for British Lion Film Corporation. The film was made on location in Liss and at Riverside Studios, London. In several respects, including some common casting, it was a precursor of St. Trinian's films of the 1950s.
Richard Cameron Wattis was an English actor.
The Wildcats of St. Trinian's is the fifth British comedy film set in the fictional St Trinian's School. Directed by Frank Launder, it was released in 1980.
Not to be confused with Longmoor Military Camp.
Whitehill Junction railway station is a former railway station, on the Longmoor Military Railway, which was closed along with the rest of the line in 1969. The station served the village of Whitehill, Hampshire. The station was featured in the films The Great St Trinian's Train Robbery.
Longmoor Downs railway station is a former railway station, on the Longmoor Military Railway, which was closed along with the rest of the line in 1969. The station was the main stop serving Longmoor Military Camp. The station was featured in the films The Great St Trinian's Train Robbery and The Magnificent Two.
Leslie Gilliat was a British film producer and production manager. He was the younger brother of director Sidney Gilliat, with whom he worked on a number of films for British Lion Films.