Film / St. Trinian's

"We are the best,
So screw the rest.
We do as we damn well please.
Until the end,
St. Trinian's,
Defenders of Anarchy!"
Girls Aloud, St. Trinian's (2007)

St Trinian's is a film series based on a series of cartoons by Ronald Searle (who also was responsible for the molesworth books and Dick Deadeye, or Duty Done). The films are set in a disreputable girls' school where the only rule is that there are no rules. The girls themselves are teen and pre-teen horrors who are not above using their feminine wiles to get away with murder. The teachers? They're teaching the girls how to get away with crime in foreign countries and mixing drinks. The headmistress, Miss Fritton, has no interest in maintaining any form of order. And there's a local spiv, Flash Harry, who makes money from whatever schemes the girls cook up (usually).

The original film series consists of:

  • The Belles of St. Trinian's (1954): The decrepit school is desperately in need of some money, so the headmistress allows the girls to place bets on a horserace. Things get out of hand when the classes place bets on rival horses.
  • Blue Murder at St. Trinian's (1957): Flash Harry (George Cole here) sets up a marriage agency, resulting in a prince wanting to meet the girls. Problems arise when the jewel-thief father of one of the girls decides to hide out at the school.
  • The Pure Hell of St. Trinian's (1960): The girls are kidnapped and forced to defend themselves against the sons of an Arabian Emir, who want them as their wives.
  • The Great St. Trinian's Train Robbery (1966): The school takes over a mansion in which thieves have hidden money.

The series was revived in 1980 with The Wildcats of St. Trinian's. In this movie, Joe Melia replaced George Cole as Flash Harry, and the film was not a success.

The franchise would have to wait 27 more years before a new film came out, this time simply called St. Trinian's (St. Trinian's School for (Bad) Girls in DVD release). In this one, the school is threatened with foreclosure by the bank and the ultra-conservative Minister of Education. Faced with threats from all sides, the girls decide to pull off the biggest heist ever concocted by a bunch of teenagers. This one features Colin Firth as the Minister of Education, and thus avoids the Celebrity Paradox by making jokes about Another Country, Pride and Prejudice and Girl with a Pearl Earring. It's also notable for having Colin Firth and Rupert Everett perform "Love is in the Air" over the end credits. There was also a poorly-received (though not bad) sequel, St. Trinian's 2: The Legend of Fritton's Gold, in 2009 (featuring former Doctor Who star David Tennant as the villain). A third film is planned.

St. Trinian's 2: The Legend of Fritton's Gold has it's own page.


Tropes that span the entire St.Trinian's franchise:

  • Amazon Brigade: The field hockey team. In the older movies, it would be the fourth formers. Can be applied to pretty much the entire group when they get going.
  • Badass Creed: "At other schools, they send young girls unprepared into a cold merciless world. But here at St. Trinian's, it is the merciless world which must be prepared."
    • The theme song for the 2007 and 2009 films (quoted at the top of this page) is heavily implied to be, at least in part, a school song. Students can be heard chanting part of it before the hockey game in the first movie ("Feel the fear; we're maniacs.") and quietly singing the chorus before going into battle in the sequel.
    • There is also a line from the school song from the older films: Let our motto be broadcast: "Get your blow in first!" She who draws the sword last always comes off worst!
  • Berserk Button: Don't mess with any of the girls. If you do, the rest of the school will pay you their full attention.
  • Black and Gray Morality: In an oddly comic way. The girls are criminal Karma Houdinis who should be in juvenile detention at the very least. In spite of this they are usually not as bad as their enemies, and they are loyal to their friends and their school. Whatever they get up to is however usually very funny as well.
  • Boarding School of Horrors: As illustrated by Ronald Searle's wonderful comics.
  • Catholic Schoolgirls Rule: St. Trinian's isn't Catholic but the trope still applies ("St. Trinian's Girl" is the British name for this trope).
  • Go Among Mad People: A staple of the movies is showing how normal people react to being thrown into the school. Usually, they wind up either becoming paranoid or joining in the craziness. In the 2007 film an official at the Ministry of Education is shown to still suffer twitches and tics because of his brief exposure to the school.
  • Honest John's Dealership: Flash Harry
  • Inspired By: St. Trinnean's School in Edinburgh, established by Miss C. Fraser Lee in 1922 and was believed to operate on an extremely relaxed theory of educational freedom. Ronald Searle created the first of the St. Trinian's cartoons after meeting the daughters of a couple he knew, who went to the real school. He tried tried to imagine what kind of school would produce the pair of pre-teen hellraisers, and created a British institution.
    Fans of the movies may be disappointed to learn that the reality is nothing like fiction. The school differed from other middle-class girls' boarding schools only in that the students were allowed to determine their own homework schedules. At the time, though, this was seen as revolutionary and somewhat suspect. (Also, the school had a lacrosse team rather than field hockey.)
  • Karma Houdini: The girls are guilty of everything from forgery to kidnapping, but never seem to get into any real trouble.
  • Little Miss Badass: The lower year girls.
  • Lovable Rogue: Flash Harry.
  • One-Gender School: St. Trinian's is an all girls school, and the majority of the staff are female.
    • The Bursar and the art teacher are male in the 2007 reboot.
  • Sexy Schoolwoman: Some of the senior girls, particularly in the reboot film (emphasized by the fact the vast majority of the cast were in their 20s).
  • Stocking Filler: The senior girls have a penchant for stockings and garter belts.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: in both the original film and the reboot. In The Belles of St. Trinian's, Millicent and Clarence Fritton were both played by Alastair Sim. In the reboot film, Camilla and Carnaby Fritton were both played by Rupert Everett.
  • Unflinching Walk: The unexpected explosion of the shack that formally initiates the surprise visit to St Trinian, while it causes a gaggle of jhournalist to crouch and jump in fear, doesn't seem to faze Thwaites whatsoever.
  • Villain Protagonist: The girls (it is St. Trinian's after all) are usually portrayed as organised criminals at best. On the other hand whoever their current enemy is is usually worse: bookmakers and the 6th form in the first film, kidnappers in the third, and a bunch of train robbers in the fourth. On the other hand the 6th Form in the The Belles and the entire school in Blue Murder at St. Trinian's are explicitly only acting to further their own plans. Flash usually falls into this niche as well.
  • Villain Song: If you do view the students as Villain Protagonists, the St. Trinian's Chant would be this. It fits pretty well in any case, with the girls revelling in the mayhem they cause.
  • Zettai Ryouiki: Worn by several senior girls.

The original series of St. Trinian's films (1954 - 1966) include the following tropes:

  • Blackface: In the Great St. Trinian's Train Robbery Frankie Howerd's character gets a face full of soot, which he then uses to impersonate a Pakistani worker (with a dreadful accent) to evade capture.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: Princess Fatima
  • Cross-Cast Role: Alistair Sim as the headmistress.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: In The Belles of St. Trinian's, the girls are not a united group, but are instead acting at cross purposes. The 6th Form's actions also explicitly endanger the survival of the school, while later films have the 4th and 6th Forms form a united group and protecting the school is usually their main priority.
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: Averted in Blue Murder at St. Trinian's: the girls have explicitly managed to steal a machine gun from the army.
  • Handcar Pursuit: One takes place at the climax of The Great St Trinian's Train Robbery.
  • Oh Crap!: In Train Robbery, the mastermind behind the crime syndicate only appears to his subordinates as the unchanging image of an eye on a TV screen. Unchanging, that is, until they tell him that the school that's taken over the house where they hid the loot is St. Trinian's.
  • Only Sane Man:
    • The undercover policewoman Ruby, compared to the other teachers.
    • Oddly enough, Flash himself brief falls into this role during The Great St. Trinian's Train Robbery, upon learning the girls plan to take the train robbery money for themselves, he exclaims they'll never get away with something like that. Subverted in that he goes along with the plan when one of the girls points out how much they have gotten away with before.
  • Quintessential British Gentleman: Captain Romney Carlton-Ricketts in Blue Murder at St Trinian's, played by Terry-Thomas.
  • Walking In Rhythm: In the original films, Flash Harry had a "theme" which played while he sneaked in.
  • The Caper:
    • The break-in at the Ministry in Blue Murder at St.Trinian's, where the girls break into the ministry, break through a ceiling, crack a safe and carry out their plan to substitute some test answers, to make sure they win a prize of a European tour so they can get to Italy and the VI form can meet their Italian suitors. They get away with it undetected even though they left a huge hole in the ceiling which, though papered over, is discovered in the morning.
    • The train robbers in The Great St. Trinian's Train Robbery pull off the perfect heist, hide the millions and look set to get away with it, until it turns out they hid the loot in a house that's since been acquired as St. Trinian's new base of operations. They then plan another caper, hoping to get the money back.

The St. Trinian's (2007) film includes the following tropes:

  • Accidental Athlete: Annabelle Fritton is recruited for the hockey team after she smashes a bust with a mobile phone she belted with a hockey stick.
  • Adults Are Useless: Invoked and averted; While the girls do say that "No use relying on the grown-ups. We need to sort this out ourselves," Miss Fritton turns out to be helpful in the end.
  • Beautiful All Along: Annabelle's rapid-fire montage of makeovers twists and subverts this trope before ending in a standard expression that puts her in Posh Totty territory.
  • Black Comedy Rape: Implied when Geoffrey Thwaites has a drink with his old lover, Miss Fritton, and passes out due to a combination of the alcohol and unspecified prescription medication. He then wakes up naked in her bed the next morning to her euphemistic implications.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Flash Harry briefly disguises himself as a German art collector...with a hilariously awful accent.
  • Celebrity Paradox: When looking at The Girl With A Pearl Earring, one girl comments that Colin Firth (who plays Geoffrey) was justified in wanting to shag her.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: The receptionist, Beverly. It's implied that this is partially because she's often very, very high.
  • Continuity Reboot: The 2007 film borrows plot elements of The Belles of St. Trinian's and isn't explicitly linked to the previous six films.
  • Corrupt the Cutie:
    • Annabel Fritton starts out as a Na´ve Newcomer who ends up becoming a fully fledged St. Trinian's girl towards the end of the film.
    • Miss Dickinson remains fairly kind hearted and eager to teach, she just learns how to get them interested on a more St. Trinian's level.
  • Cross-Cast Role: Creator/Rupert Everett as the headmistress Miss Fritton.
  • Custom Uniform: Due to the rather relaxed rules at St. Trinian's, all the girls wear custom uniforms apart from Annabel at first. Averted for laughs in one scene, where instead of scolding a student for dangling a girl off of the stairs, a teacher demands that she tuck her shirt in.
  • Dance Party Ending: With Girls Aloud, no less.
  • Famous-Named Foreigner: There is a French teacher called Miss Maupassant
  • Feigning Intelligence : Done as part of a Gambit Roulette when the girls partake in a nation-wide quiz to find the smartest school in Britain. They use increasingly underhanded tactics to win each round (including sleeping with the other contestants and drugging one unfortunate team) and use the Internet to look up the answers, which are then relayed to the girls on stage. It does help that they know some of the answers.
  • Fille Fatale: The Posh Totties run a phone-sex operation.
  • Gargle Blaster: The vodka some of the girls distill is labelled "100% proof". It's powerful enough that a tiny taste makes Geoffrey quite drunk for a few minutes, and a shot glass full of it is powerful enough to knock a Russian girl unconscious. Previous versions apparently made people go blind and may have killed a woman.
  • Gone Swimming, Clothes Stolen: The girls band together to effect this trope on new girl Annabelle Fritton as she showers, filming the resulting nekkid antics on hidden cameras and broadcasting it on YouTube.
  • Laser Hallway: This film gives about every heist movie trope in the space of thirty minutes, which means that the girls have to negotiate one of these en route to stealing the Girl with a Pearl Earring.
  • Lower-Class Lout: One of the cliques is known as The Chavs.
  • Mad Bomber: The explosive-mad twins.
  • Mythology Gag: Several taken from the older films;
    • The bust that Annabelle shatters is of Alistair Sim, the actor who portrayed Miss Fritton in the earlier films.
    • Similarly, the painting in Miss Fritton's office is also of Sim.
    • The animated heist plan mimics the artistic style of Ronald Searle, whose cartoons inspired the films.
    • The uniforms the Posh Totties wear to the School Challenge are based on the uniforms from the earlier films.
    • On the way to the School Challenge final, the camera lingers on the visible tops of Annabelle's stockings. The fact that the girls wore this style in the 50s movies was seen as shocking and scandalous.
    • A deleted scene has a ministry official suggest "Let Those Wildcats Beware" as a news headline for the Minister's plan to make St. Trinian's an example; this is a reference to Wildcats of St. Trinian's. Thwaite shoots it down as stupid, which may itself be a reference to how bad Wildcats was.
    • At least one of the pictures the camera pans over in the Art Room is based on one of the original Searle drawings (The original caption to which is "...And this is Rachel, our Head girl.")
  • Na´ve Newcomer:
    • Annabelle when she first shows up at school and comes around to being a full fledged St. Trinian's girl by the time the first half of the movie is over.
    • Miss Dickinson is the new English teacher and she's completely overwhelmed on her first day. She appears to have gotten a decent grasp of what's going on by the time the film ends.
  • Never Found the Body: Miss Dickinson comments that they have lost "four English teachers in six months," prompting Ms Fritton to observe: "Very careless of us. I expect they'll turn up."
  • Open the Door and See All the People: Reporters and paparazzi are at the school and Colin Firth's character just happens to stands nude at the window of the headmistress' room.
  • Power Walk: The girls do this after having successfully pulled off their heist.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Pride and Prejudice gets a lot:
      • Many of the cast have some connection to P&P: Colin Firth was Mr. Darcy and Anna Chancellor (Miss Bagstock) was Miss Bingley in the 1995 miniseries; Talulah Riley (Annabelle) was Mary Bennet in the 2005 film version; and Gemma Arterton (Kelly) was Elizabeth Bennet in the 2008 miniseries Lost in Austen.
      • Miss Fritton's dog is named for Mr. Darcy. This becomes distinctly "meta" in that the dog is kicked out the window while attempting to hump the Education Minister's leg - even Mr Darcy wants Colin Firth!
      • Colin Firth's slow-motion walk to the hockey field in wet white shirt with his jacket over his arm mimics a similar scene he did in the 1995 Pride and Prejudice.
      • The quizmaster's question "What book was originally titled First Impressions?" references the original title of Pride and Prejudice.
    • Similarly, there are a number of shoutouts surrounding "The Girl With A Pearl Earring", starting with Colin Firth's role in the 2003 film of the same name, the explicit reference to Colin Firth wanting to shag her, and Chelsea initially thinking that the idea is to "steal Scarlett Johansson''.
    • To The Italian Job (1969), when the twins use a little too much explosive during the heist rehearsal.
      You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!
    • In her mannerisms and mode of dress, Camilla Fritton parodies Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.
    • When Thwaites and Camilla meet, she says "Another time!" and he answers "Another country!" His response is the title of a 1984 film in which Rupert Everett and Colin Firth first starred together.
    • When Annabelle is entering the school for the first time, she calls it "Hogwarts for Pikeys".
    • A deleted scene has the girls running a Fight Club, which of course no one talks about.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math:
    • Stephen Fry award points to a team for concluding that the volume of a sphere is πr3. A fourteen-year-old could probably tell you that it's (4πr3)/3.

Alternative Title(s): St Trinians

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/StTrinians