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.
The St. Trinian's films include 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.
Acting for Two: One notable thing about the films is the fact that in both the original series and the 2007 reboot, the Headmistress, Miss Fritton, is played by a man (Alistair Sim and Rupert Everett) who also plays her brother.
Adults Are Useless: Invoked and averted in the 2007 film: 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.
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!
Beautiful All Along: In the 2007 film, 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 and Gray Morality: In an oddly comic way. The girls are criminal Karmic Houdini's 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.
Black Comedy Rape: Implied in the 2007 movie, where Geoffrey Thwaites has a drink with his old lover, Miss Fritton, passes out due to a combination of the alcohol and unspecified prescription medication, and wakes up naked in her bed the next morning to her euphemistic implications.
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.
Brief Accent Imitation: In the 2007 film, Flash Harry briefly disguises himself as a German art collector...with a hilariously awful accent.
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).
Celebrity Paradox: When looking at The Girl With A Pearl Earring, one girl comments that Colin Firth was justified in wanting to shag her.
Cloud Cuckoolander: The receptionist, Beverly. It's established in the first episode 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: Princess Fatima in The Belles of St Trinian's. Annabel Fritton in the 2007 movie.
Cross-Cast Role: Alistair Sim (original series) and Rupert Everett (remake series) as the headmistress.
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.
Demonic Possession: Annabelle in St. Trinian's: The Legend Of Fritton's Gold gets possessed by her ancestor Captain Fritton. There is no real point to this scene, other then having the other girls scream, making the Emo do an exorcism, damaging Annabelle's self-esteem, and getting the second half of the clue.
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.
Fake Band: The Banned of St. Trinian's are featured in the 2009 film. As the DVD reveals, the actresses playing the band recorded the vocals for the two songs they're show performing. (A member of Girls Aloud, Sarah Harding, is a lead cast member in the second film, but does not perform with this group.)
Family-Friendly Firearms: Averted in Blue Murder at St. Trinian's: the girls have explicitly managed to steal a machine gun from the army.
Feigning Intelligence : Done as part of a Gambit Roulette in the 2007 film 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.
Gargle Blaster: The vodka some of the girls distill in the 2007 movie 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.
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.
Gone Swimming, Clothes Stolen: In the 2007 film, 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.
Handcar Pursuit: One takes place at the climax of The Great St Trinian's Train Robbery.
He-Man Woman Hater: In the 2009 film, an entire organization exists for hating women. Both Lord and Sir Piers Pomfrey's motivations are solely because of this as well.
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.)
Jump Scare: Played for laughs, but a jump nevertheless, one of these happens in the 2009 film when Colin Firth's character encounters a possessed Annabelle returning to the school.
Karma Houdini: The girls are guilty of everything from forgery to kidnapping, but never seem to get into any real trouble.
Laser Hallway: The 2007 film gives us just 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.
Last-Second Word Swap: In the 2009 film, Geoffrey nearly calls the girls "bitches" during a tirade to gain Pomfrey's trust, but can't bring himself to do so, saying "minxes" instead.
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.
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.")
In the Legend of Fritton's Gold, the first scene with the policeman saying "They're back," is similar to the first scene of Belles . The travelling montage is very similar to that used in Blue Murder.
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."
One Gender School: Only females. The only males who regularly are on the campus are the very put-upon Bursar and Flash.
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.
Samus Is a Girl: "That Sea Dog, was a she dog." Pirate Fritton (who is William Shakespeare) is a woman. Unlike other examples of this trope, this is blatantly obvious from the get-go.note Unless you're familiar with Captain Jack Sparrow and his campy manners...
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, 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".
Stocking Filler: The senior girls have a penchant for stockings and garter belts.
Sweet Polly Oliver: Half the main case of St. Trinian's 2 dress as guys to infiltrate a boy's school. Disturbingly, several of the girls look more convincing as guys than some of the male actors cast to play the male students, including one who comes off as a dead ringer for Leonardo DiCaprio, and another who is so handsome as a boy one of the St. Trinian's girls accidentally takes a shine to "him" before realising who she is.
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.
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. Also Sir Piers Pomfrey and Lord Pomfrey were both played by David Tennant.
Up to Eleven: Fritton's Gold features an amp that does this.
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.
Walking In Rhythm: In the original films, Flash Harry had a "theme" which played while he sneaked in.
Writers Cannot Do Math: One scene in the 2007 film had 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.