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 no use, instead 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 , Headmistress Miss Fritton's brother (who wishes to build on the old ground) 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.One notable thing about the films is the fact that the Headmistress, Miss Fritton, is played by a man (Alistair Sim and Rupert Everett) who also playsher brother. The only constant, however, is Flash Harry (played by Russell Brand in the 2007 film).
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.
Actor Allusion: Not only did Annabelle Fritton attend Cheltenham Ladies' College before being involuntarily transferred by her father to St. Trinian's, so did her actress, Talulah Riley (attend Cheltenham, that is; St. Trinian's doesn't really exist).
Adults Are Useless: Invoked in the 2007 film. "No use relying on the grown-ups. We need to sort this out ourselves."
Although Miss Fritton ends up being very helpful
Amazon Brigade: The field hockey team. In the older movies, it would be the fourth formers.
Badass Creed: ''"At other schools, they send young girls unprepared into a cold merciless world. But here at St Trinians, 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 Comedy Rape: In the 2007 movie, Geoffrey Thwaites has a drink with his old lover, Miss Fritton, and wakes up naked in her bed the next morning.
Note that the sex did not necessarily happen; Miss Fritton (played by Rupert Everett) euphemistically implies it, but the alcohol (its intensity boosted by an unspecified prescription medicine from her purse) knocked him out cold. (And is not exactly known to necessarily be helpful in sexual situations.)
Blackface: In the Great St Trinians Train Robbery Frankie Howerd's character gets a face full of soot and he then uses it 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.
Call Back 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 . Also the travelling montage is very similar to that used in Blue Murder.
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: Given that it's a near-remake of Belles of St. Trinian's, and 27 years separate it and the last St. Trinian's release, the 2007 film is a fresh start for the series.
Debatable, since references are made to the current Miss. Fritton's "Great Aunt Millicent", the same Miss Millicent Fritton played by Alastair Sim in the original films. A portrait and a bust of Sim as Miss Fritton (both of which also featured in The Belles of St. Trinian's) also appear. It could be argued that this is still a continuation of the original series. The current Flash Harry could be the original's grandson.
Corrupt the Cutie: Princess Fatima in The Belles of St Trinian's. Annabel Fritton in the 2007 movie. Pretty much everyone else. It doesn't take long in most cases...
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.Trinians, 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.
Fake Band: Girls Aloud play one in the closing scenes of the 2007 movie - they also make cameos in the movie as students.
Another group, 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.)
Fake Brit: It might be surprising to learn that Mischa Barton is not this having been born in England
Feigning Intelligence : Done as part of a Gambit Roulette in the 2007 St. Trinian's when the girls partake in a nation wide quiz to find the smartest school in Britain. They use increasingly underhand 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.
Its notable that due to some Values Dissonance, the Posh Totties do not fall under this trope for British viewers. The Posh Totties are all Sixth Form students, which would make them 17-18 (and the age of consent in Britain is 16).
some Values Dissonance here, in that "posh tottie" in British English often refers to attractive young women of any age up to mid-to-late twenties affecting an upper-muddle-class or upper-class style; the Posh Totties of the film actually run a phone-sex operation which has no particular reference to St Trinian's
Gargle Blaster: The vodka some of the girls distill in the 2007 movie is powerful enough that a tiny taste makes Geoffrey quite drunk for a few minutes, and a shotglass 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.
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 St. Trinian's 2 when Colin Firth's character encounters a possessed Annabelle returning to the school.
Laser Hallway: The 2007 film gives us just about every heist movie trope in the space of thirty minutes.
And any not covered in that film are covered in the 2009 film.
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.")
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 is the very put-upon Bursar and Flash
Only Sane Man: The undercover policewoman Ruby, compared to the other teachers.
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...
Saved from Development Hell: For some unknown reason there was a 14-year gap between the fourth St. Trinian's movie (The Great St. Trinian's Train Robbery, 1966) and the fifth (The Wildcats of St. Trinian's, 1980). But there's no mystery why there was a 27-year gap between Wildcats and the sixth (St. Trinian's, 2007); Wildcats was reportedly so dire that it's the only one not available on DVD.
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.
Uncanny Family Resemblance: in both the original film and the reboot. In the Belles of St Trinians, 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 (played by David Tennent).
Up to Eleven: Fritton's Gold features an amp that does this.
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.
Clearly the writer extrapolated from πr2 giving the area of a circle. Stephen Fry is much better versed in humanities than science, otherwise he might have spotted this one.