|The Great St. Trinian's Train Robbery|
|Directed by|| Sidney Gilliat |
|Written by||Frank Launder|
|Produced by||Sidney Gilliat|
|Starring|| Frankie Howerd |
|Edited by||Geoffrey Foot|
|Music by||Malcolm Arnold|
|Distributed by||British Lion Films|
The Great St. Trinian's Train Robbery is a British comedy film, directed by Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat, written by Sidney and Leslie Gilliat, and released on 4 April 1966. It is the last of the original series of films based on the St Trinian's School set of images and comics, and the only one to be produced in colour. The film stars a selection of actors from previous films in the series, including George Cole, Richard Wattis, Eric Barker, Michael Ripper, and Raymond Huntley, alongside Frankie Howerd, Reg Varney, Dora Bryan, and the voice of Stratford Johns.
The film's story focuses on St Trinian's becoming caught up in a train robbery, after the gang who conducted it attempts to reclaim their loot from the building that the students and teachers now inhabit. The story itself is based on the actual Great Train Robbery that took place in 1963, and includes numerous parodies of the technocratic ideas of the Harold Wilson government and its support of the comprehensive school system, and spoof elements based upon those from the James Bond spy films of the Sixties.
Gang leader "Alphonse" Askett, who operates under the guise of a hairdresser, is contacted by his anonymous employer, a secret mastermind, on a plan for a major train robbery. The gang are instructed to rob a mail van of £2.5 million, and hide the loot at Hamingwell Grange, a deserted country mansion, until it is safe to reclaim it. Meanwhile, Amber Spottiswood, the headmistress of St Trinian's, has an affair with Sir Horace, the new head of the Ministry of Schools (a fictional government department) and a corrupt politician, who recently took over following a Labour Party election triumph. Much to his department staff's shock, he willingly provides the school a grant in order to relocate following a fire at their previous building. St Trinian's moves into Hamingwell as a result, which subsequently spook Askett's gang when they attempt to return to recover their loot.
Learning of what happened, the gang's mastermind instructs Askett to find a means to retrieve the stolen money without raising suspicions from the school. Askett decides on sending his delinquent daughters into St Trinian's as new pupils, instructing the pair to gather any useful information that the gang can make use of. Unknown to Askett, one of the students at St Trinian's comes across some of the stolen money and brings it to Flash Harry, the school's turf accountant. Discovering it is part of the proceeds from the train robbery reported in the papers, he decides to claim the reward money from Edward Noakes, an insurance assessor. However, Noakes is put off by the secretive manner Harry conducts the meeting under, and decides to keep St Trinian's under observation instead.
The gang soon receive instructions to take advantage of an upcoming Parents' Day at the school, and pose as caterers in order to recover the money. Whilst waiting for the school to be preoccupied with a dance routine in the main hall, the gang lose a camera to one of the students, housing a hidden two-way radio. When the camera is brought to Harry in order to be fenced, he and some of the students intercept a message for Askett from the mastermind and realise the train robbers are in the school. The gang manage to recover the stolen money and escape, just as the school is alerted to what is happening; while Harry and the students chase after the gang, Spottiswood leads the teachers in hopes of claiming the reward money.
A chaotic chase with trains soon ensues. While the gang use a stolen train to make their escape, the students commandeer a passenger train to pursue them, and subsequently seize a van car from them carrying the stolen money. At the same time, police are alerted by Noakes, and commandeer another passenger train to pursue both. The students swiftly manage to evade the robbers and leave them being chased by the police, with the gang cornered at a station. While officers arrest most of the gang, Askett manages to escape in the chaos. Meanwhile, the students bring the stolen money to a station further up the railway line, planning to claim it for themselves, but are prevented from doing so by the arrival of more police. However, the officers applaud the girls for recovering it, causing the students to be awarded with medals, much to the shock of others that know them too well.
Desmond Walter-Ellis died in 1994 aged 80. Jeremy Clyde and Carole Ann Ford are the last two surviving credited adult stars as of 2022.
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 films at the British box office in 1966.
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 1954 British comedy film, directed by Frank Launder, co-written by Launder and Sidney Gilliat, and starring Alastair Sim, Joyce Grenfell, George Cole, Hermione Baddeley. Inspired by British cartoonist Ronald Searle's St Trinian's School comic strips, the film focuses on the lives of the students and teachers of the fictional school, dealing with attempts to shut them down while their headmistress faces issues with financial troubles, which culminates in the students thwarting a scheme involving a racehorse.
Blue Murder at St Trinian's is a 1957 British comedy film, directed by Frank Launder, co-written by Launder and Sidney Gilliat, and starring Terry-Thomas, George Cole, Joyce Grenfell, Lionel Jeffries and Richard Wattis; the film also includes a brief cameo of Alastair Sim, who reprising his lead role in the 1954 film, The Belles of St. Trinian's. Inspired by the St Trinian's School comic strips by British cartoonist Ronald Searle, the film is the second entry in the St. Trinian's film series, with its plot seeing the students of the fictional school making plans to secure a place on a European tour, all while subsequently aiding a criminal who is secretly seeking to escape the country with stolen jewels.
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 a 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. The railway ceased operation on 31 October 1969.
Reginald Alfred Varney was an English actor, entertainer and comedian. He is best remembered for having played the lead role of bus driver Stan Butler in the LWT sitcom On the Buses (1969–73) and its three spin-off feature films. Having performed as a music hall entertainer, Varney first came to national recognition as factory foreman Reg Turner in the BBC sitcom The Rag Trade (1961–63). He appeared in further sitcoms including Beggar My Neighbour (1966–1968) and On the Buses stardom facililated overseas cabaret tours.
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 1947 play of the same name 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 the St. Trinian's films of the 1950s and 1960s.
Richard Wattis was an English actor, co-starring in many popular British comedies of the 1950s and 1960s.
St Trinian's is a 2007 British comedy film and the sixth in a long-running series of British films based on the works of cartoonist Ronald Searle set in St Trinian's School. The first five films form a series, starting with The Belles of St. Trinian's in 1954, with sequels in 1957, 1960, 1966 and a reboot in 1980. The release of 2007, 27 years after the last entry, and 53 years after the first film, is a rebooting of the franchise, rather than a direct sequel, with certain plot elements borrowed from the first film.
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.
Longmoor is a scattered settlement in Hampshire, England. The boundaries of Longmoor contain Longmoor Military Camp, a historic army camp and training area situated in the Longmoor Inclosure. It is now by the A3 road between Greatham and Liphook.
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 serving Longmoor Military Camp. The station was the Southern terminus of the original standard gauge railway opened in stages between 1907 and 1908.
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.