Millicent Fritton (Alistair Sim of The Millionairess), the clueless headmistress of the St. Trinian's School for Girls, is in a quandary. The school's bank account has only $400 but it is in debt for ten times that much. The students are incorrigible monsters who ignore their teachers when they aren't blowing each other up with bombs. The teachers are a weird lot consisting of inebriates and felons. Both the Ministry of Education and the police are investigating the school, although representatives from the Ministry never seem to return from their visits there. Policewoman Ruby Gates (Joyce Grenfell of Stage Fright) is directed to infiltrate the school as a new professor, where she discovers that there is an active gin-making business among half the students while the other half are trying to manipulate a horse race -- by stealing a horse -- in order to make some cash (an idea that after some outrage appeals to Ms. Fritton). Someone else who wants to make money on the race is Millicent's brother, Clarence (also played by Sim) and his daughter, Jackie (Diana Day), a nearly middle-aged women who should have been out of school years before. Inspired by the cartoons of Ronald Searle, The Belles of St. Trinian's is a very clever and consistently amusing black comedy that gets high marks for utter originality. The casting of Alistair Sim as the headmistress is absolutely inspired, as Sims does a dead-on impression -- if you can even call if a mere "impression" -- of a dowager who will maintain her dignity no matter what vulgar or appalling shenanigans are going on all around her. There's also a terrific and fun score by Malcolm Arnold [Stolen Face], and a host of wonderful supporting performances. The soccer match is hilarious, and the ending is a pip! Followed by several sequels and an inferior remake.
Verdict: This picture is not a drag. ***1/2.
NOTE: This post is part of the Gender Bending the Rules Blogathon co-hosted by Angelman's Place and The Midnite Drive-In.