Trinian’s, the infamous school for ‘young ladies,’ is once again facing
dire financial crisis. The bank is threatening headmistress Camilla
Fritton with closure. Meanwhile her unorthodox doctrine of free
expression and self empowerment is also under threat from new Education
Minister Geoffrey Thwaites. He may be an old flame of Camilla’s. but
right now he’s determined to bring discipline and order to the anarchic
school. But the St Trinian’s girls are in a league of their own: smart,
fearless and determined to defend the school they love to the end. They
need to unite the warring girl gang cliques and come up with the cash
fast. Sassy Head Girl Kelly and newcomer Annabelle join forces and
gather together a motley crew of teachers, the fiendishly charming
Flash Harry and the resourceful and ruthless pupils to pull off the
heist of the century. They’re planning to steal the famous painting
‘Girl With a Pearl Earring’ from the National Gallery, right under the
noses of the authorities. But can their combined cunning, girlish wiles
and total lack of shame win the day before the authorities close them
down for good?
All of the hilarious antics and the girl-power action, which have made St Trinian’s one of our greatest and best-loved national institutions, are back on the big screen.
IndieLondon interview with Colin Firth
(compiled by Jack Foley)
Q: How would you describe your character in St Trinians?
A: Oh, I’m a suit again. Basically, it was: “Do you want to play the Minister of Education?” Yeah. I’m very much the stooge, the patsy, the guy who’s set up for a fall.
Q: Do you have fond memories of the original St Trinian’s films?
A: I have almost no memory of them. I don’t think I’ve seen them since I was quite young. I was a bit frightened of the girls. I fancied them. Even though I was young, I found them attractive and rather frightening. I’ve always been attracted to frightening girls! I’m married to one!
Q: And how would you describe the older women in the film?
A: They’re a bit naughty and very, very confident. A great sense of entitlement and a little bit sexy – inclined to a drink and a cigarette. And they can be frightening too!
Q: How would you describe Rupert’s take on Miss Fritton. Like a pantomime dame?
A: It’s not a pantomime dame. I’ll say that. Rupert plays her convincingly as a certain kind of woman. But Rupert and I have a love scene at the end of the movie. I can vouch for how difficult it is to grapple with all that extra material!
Q: How do you think modern audiences will react to the film?
A: I saw bits of the old films after we did this. To be honest, I was surprised how much the old versions are like this. Obviously, some of the lingo had to be changed—no one was talking about Emos and Chavs and Posh Tottie in the 1950s.
Q: Maybe the current Minister of Education might raise objections in the House!
A: He might not like the way he’s portrayed! But we don’t show any girls smoking. There’s some very strict film rules about that now.
Q: Did you get to meet Russell Brand? How did you find him?
A: Well, we don’t have any scenes together. But it’s interesting. Our job is trying to inject some freshness and excitement into a very dull job description, which is repetition. To work effectively in a film, you have to repeat and work consistently. Basically, you shoot a big master then you do close-ups. You’re supposed to be in the same moment, the same 30-second moment, for a day. The skill of a good actor is to make it always seem like you’re in that fantastically spontaneous moment. Very often, a stand-up comedian has a different instinct, which is to reinvent. Once you’ve laid down some material, and made them laugh, you move on and find some new material. I often think it can often be very difficult for comedians to revisit the same gag. I think Russell’s a bit more than a comedian.
Q: I believe he trained at the Drama Centre, where you trained…
A: Did he? He must be such a mess! We all are! I enjoyed drama school—it was very exciting. I was a very earnest 19-year-old. I loved all that.
Q: What feelings do you have now to your own school days?
A: It’s a funny thing—the reality is I have no feelings about school. It’s long gone. Funnily enough, the bad memories—of which I don’t have any left to be honest, I can just remember a sense of tedium—have faded. And teachers that I liked have remained quite vivid. There are three or four left.
Q: Were you in love with English and drama at school?
A: Yes, obviously. I probably ended up in those areas because those were the inspired teachers. If I’d loved my chemistry teacher and my maths teacher, goodness knows what direction my life might have gone in. I remember there was a primary school teacher who really woke me up to the joys of school for about one year when I was ten. He made me interested in things I would otherwise not have been interested in—because he was a brilliant teacher. He was instrumental in making me think learning was quite exciting.
Q: How was it to shoot the scene where the dog humps your leg?
A: It was a bit of a pain. There was a little ball of nylon, which they used to substitute the dog, because the dog was not co-operative all the time. But there was a real dog. The only dog they could find in England that was prepared to shag me was a female called Dolly, who proved not to want to do it when the time came. Dolly would intermittently be persuaded to play the game for two or three seconds. Then they gave up and they stuck the nylon on me instead.
Q: So you weren’t embarrassed about doing it?
A: When I read, it was the thing that gave me the biggest laugh. Then once you’re working on the business of the laugh, on the set, the old adage is how comedy is a rather serious business.
Q: Do you find comedy easy?
A: It’s an unknown quantity. It’s actually almost a cliché to say it, how hard comedy is. What’s that famous quote? “Dying is easy, comedy’s hard.” I think the broader it gets, if you miss by a millimetre, you’ve missed completely. It’s a very hard thing to do.
Q: You’ve worked with Rupert Everett before. How has your relationship evolved?
A: It’s quite hard to say how it’s evolved over this afternoon! It is piss taking… but I think there’s a slight feeling of us being a couple of survivors, really. It’s almost a quarter of a century in a business that does claim a lot of 15-minute flash-in-the-pan scalps. And meeting again after Another Country, where we famously didn’t get on, [for The Importance of Being Earnest], even the fact we didn’t get on very well 18 years before was already a source of connection somehow. There’s something quite reassuring – “Oh, it’s you again!”
Q: Do you hang out now off set?
A: We don’t hang out. We’ve come close to hanging out. After The Importance of Being Ernest, if we’d kept up phone-calls… I sat and listened to him holding forth on spiritual matters for hours on the set [of St Trinians]. I was glazing over and he was talking matters of the soul, in his trailer.
Q: You’ve just done The Accidental Husband next with Uma Thurman. How was that?
A: That’s fairly straightforward rom-com fare. Griffin Dunne directed, who I loved as an actor. After Hours was one of the great comedies. Griffin did tell me stories about it, but for him it was a rather long time ago, and I know what it’s like answering questions about a film you did twenty years ago! But it’s interesting being directed by someone who is a very good actor. There’s nothing like it. It might sound like a territorial thing about what I do, but I don’t think you can understand what it is until you’ve done it. I know that to be a fact. However good a communicator a director is, unless they’ve been actors, it’s just not the same as the shorthand you get with someone who’s been an actor.
Q: You’ve also just done Genova, the new Michael Winterbottom film. A ghost story, is that right?
A: It is, yes. I think like a lot of his films it’s not that easy to label what it is, certainly until you see it. But it has a ghost. It’s about two young girls, who lose their mother in a car accident. I’m the father and the mother appears to the younger of the two and has a relationship, so in that respect, yes, it has a ghost element.
The Nostalgia trip for people who believe their schooldays were the best of their lives....St Trinians
(Total Film, Nov 2007)
"It's going to shock some people," warns co-director Oliver Parker as Total Film tiptoes bashfully around the St Trinians set. We certainly hope so. But in updating the "jolly hockey sticks" with more soft drugs and sex appeal than a year of "Hollyoaks", the new occupants of St Trins argue that they're staying true to the risque edginess of the originals. "The old films go quite a long way as well," says Colin Firth, playng nasty Mr Thwaites, the man determined to prise the school from Miss Fritton (a dragged-up Rupert Everett), only to be thwarted by a ladsmag spread of resistance (including Mischa Barton, Lily Cole and Girls Aloud). "Those slightly fetishised short skirts are all there in the old films as well," says Firth. "It's spectacularly un-PC!"
They’re all so absolutely hideous
(Sunday Mail, Oct 13, 2007, by Sarah Sands)
As a child, he [Rupert Everett] was devoted to the film Mary Poppins, but, as a teenager, he fell in love with the series of St Trinian’s films and, particularly, the headmistress Miss Fritton, played by Alastair Sim. ‘Alastair Sim was a perfect actor. He had humour an gloom, which is so English. I loved Miss Fritton and the tricks being played on her. I loved her having to edge out of the room because there was a bucket on the top of the door. She had a very funny attitude.
Everett is now playing the Alastair Sim role of Miss Fritton himself. His wheeze is to model her on Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and he is astonishingly like her with flicked-back blonde hair and deep upper-class vowels. ‘Camilla is a heroine of mine. She is funny. She is a dying breed; she reminds me of my mother—no-nonsense and mucking out ponies. I hope we’re chosen for the Royal Film Performance—I’d love Charles and Camilla to come.
‘I wear marvellous clothes—tweed suits, Wellingtons, pearls, scarves from Hermès. I also have very big breasts. It has made me feel much more sympathetic towards women. Double D cups put your back out. I think I’d have them off. Breasts and high heels are awful.
Everett’s Miss Fritton carries an alligator handbag modelled on his mother’s. Furthermore, he has borrowed many of his mother’s mannerisms and catchphrases. ‘My mother says, “Don’t bore me, darling.” So I say, “Don’t bore me, girls.”’
The directors, Oliver Parker and Barnaby Thompson, have boasted of drugs and sex in the new St Trinian’s. None of this would frighten the school’s creator, cartoonist and writer Ronald Searle, who had his fiendish schoolgirls murdering each other with deadly nightshade as well as battling with hockey sticks and tormenting their long-suffering headmistress.
‘Miss Fritton is a kind of school child herself,’ says Everett. ‘She is manipulated by her pupils. So when she smokes in front of the girls she says, “Oh, sorry,” and goes to the window. I love that notion of school life, the turning of the tables. The film holds up a mirror to the rules and systems and bureaucracy that we invent and the simmering anarchy beneath.’...
Everett cannot resist teasing. One of his favourite victims is Colin Firth, who co-stars in St Trinian’s as the MP trying to make the school a respectable institution. ‘He is always acting as if he is shocked by me and I am always trying to shock him,’ grins Everett. ‘He has this great sense of humour, dry and Eeyore-like.’
The two actors didn’t get on so well when they were shooting Another Country, the film that made Everett’s name, in 1984. But he admits that, back then, his ambition was paramount and it affected relations with everybody else. ‘I fancied him at the beginning and then, after about two days I thought, “Oh no, maybe he is competition and I hadn’t noticed.” So I tried to freeze him out,’ recalls Everett, amused and appalled by his younger self.
‘I was monstrous. Everything I hadn’t dared do at public school, I did on that film set. Forming gangs, criticising everyone, being a terrorist. When you are a kid you so want your position. It is you or somebody else. Now I think that, for anyone over the age of 25, ambition is very unattractive. When you meet testosterone-driven men, it is rather revolting.’
I ask if his relationship with Firth has survived the making of St Trinian’s. ‘Me and Firthy?’ he says. ‘It is very passionate. It is the romance of the film. We are in bed together.’ I quote Firth’s remark at the Cannes Film Festival that he hoped his character would be killed in the film so he wouldn’t have to make a sequel.
Everett looks thoughtful. ‘I thought he was slightly too eager for that snog. Slightly too eager. Maybe that is why he is feeling terribly guilty. He is afraid of what I have unleashed in him.’ One can imagine Firth reading this over breakfast with his wife.
Everett’s final teasing of his co-star was to name Miss Fritton’s pet terrier Mr Darcy, the role Firth most wants to forget.
girl Gemma Arterton on the new skool rules
(Daily Mail, Jun 6, 2007, by Jenny Johnston)
One of the St Trinian's class of 2007 on why it's perfectly acceptable in the new film for the girls to take hard drugs and offer sexual favours . . . but why they must never be seen smoking
Picture the scene. You're a complete unknown, fresh out of drama school and working on a beauty counter to pay the rent—but you pitch up to audition for a leading lady role. You already know the part is out of your league. It's a movie, for goodness sake, and you haven't had as much as a non-speaking part in Casualty. Worse, it's a film everyone is already talking about—a remake of the classic St Trinian's, with those schoolgirls from hell reinvented for the 21st century. The stars are Rupert Everett, Russell Brand and Colin Firth, and filming will take place at Ealing Studios and on location in Hawaii.
Then disaster strikes. You hear that another actress has set her heart on the role. Sienna Miller—a name a little more recognisable than yours. "I was just gutted when I heard that she really wanted it," admits Gemma Arterton. "I mean .. . Sienna Miller! I never really thought I was in with a chance anyway, but when her name was bandied about, I felt like throwing in the towel."
That wasn't the only competition. A day after auditioning—and plucking up the courage to tell the director that she thought the character in question, head girl Kelly, should be something of a rebellious Amy Winehouse type—Gemma turned on the radio to hear the latest showbiz gossip. "They were talking about how Amy Winehouse—the real one—had got a film part. I was devastated, convinced she had my role. I ranted and ranted at my boyfriend. Not only had I been rejected, but they'd stolen my idea, and gone straight to Amy herself.
"I called my agent and told her she didn't need to break the news gently—I already knew Amy had the part. She said: 'No she doesn't. You have the part. They've just confirmed.' I jumped so high that I banged my head on the ceiling."
It's pure Hollywood. One day, Gemma is performing make-overs in a department store; the next she is heading off to Cannes to hang on Russell Brand's arm and being tipped as a great British talent of the future...
"I wasn't prepared for how hierarchical the whole thing was, though. We'd go to lunch in the canteen and watch as Mischa Barton, who also had a role, was whisked by us. I understand, to a point.
"People like Colin Firth would never have peace to have their lunch if extras were coming up for autographs all the time. But still it was weird."
She admits being woefully starstruck, most notably—and embarrassingly—when Girls Aloud turned up to film their scenes as the school pop group. "We ended up in their trailer saying: 'Hi, we're in the film. You are really great!' She makes gagging noises. "They must have thought, "Who are these people!"'
Fans of the original St Trinian's films, filmed in the 1950s and starring Alastair Sim, Joyce Grenfell and Joan Sims, will baulk at the revelation that Gemma hadn't even seen them when she secured her audition. "Although I did get the DVDs to see what the fuss was about," she says.
The new version, directed by Rupert Everett—who also stars as eccentric headmistresses Miss Frinton—is set in 2002 and follows the wayward schoolgirls as they enter a TV quiz hosted by Stephen Fry, and become involved in a daring heist. "It's St Trinian's for the Heat generation," explains Gemma. "Rupert based the headmistress character on Camilla Parker Bowles, which is just hilarious, and Flash Harry is played by Russell Brand. My character is a sexy minx, who uses her feminine wiles to get her way. There's lots of flirting with Russell, but sadly, no snogging. She does like to tease him, though."
Gemma's biggest surprise was that Brand—who has a notorious reputation as a ladies' man in real life—was decorum personified. "I was really shocked because he was a real gentleman, even with all these girls running around in suspenders." She seems a little disappointed, and laughs: "I came away thinking: 'Doesn't he fancy me? What's wrong with me?' "
Inevitably, the movie will provoke as much controversy as the original. Rupert Everett has spoken of the problems of making the girls even more risque than their 1950s counterparts. "I wanted to make them into drug dealers and prostitutes," he said. "I think the new film will be shocking."
Gemma was taken aback by some aspects of the script. "Some things really shocked me, but other aspects were so sedate. Cigarettes were a complete no-no, even though the original was full of girls peering through cigarette smoke. There was one scene where my character is lounging against a wall, and it cried out for her having a fag in her hand. In real life, she would, but I got shot down when I even suggested it."
It is indeed a curious fictional world where it deemed acceptable for teenage girls to take class A drugs and turn themselves into hookers, but unacceptable for them to light a cigarette.
Given that she comes from the same Heat generation the film is aiming to capture, Gemma is at ease with the overt sexuality her character exudes. Wholesome the St Trinian's girls are not. But is this an altogether good thing?
"Well, these girls are not sexy because they are schoolgirls. They are just young women who are confident about themselves and their bodies, and they are not afraid to use their bodies to get what they want."
Gemma attended a grammar school near Gravesend, Kent, and says the antics of the St Trinian's lot are simply an exaggerated version of what goes on in British schools. "In terms of the things pupils got up to, my school probably wasn't the best, but it wasn't the worst by any means," she admits. "I did see a girl smoking a joint, and someone was expelled for sniffing lighter fuel on the school field. Actually, quite a lot of that went on on the school field."
|St Trinian's Girls
Steal Priceless Vermeer In Movie
(Regional Film and Video, Jun 18, 2007)
Bridgeman Art Library's convincing reproduction of Vermeer’s 'Girl with a Pearl Earring' is a key prop in the new St. Trinian's film starring Rupert Everett and Colin Firth.
When it comes to the big screen it is not just the actors who need to be convincing—props and scenery have to provide a realistic backdrop to the action, particularly when the prop in question has a starring role.
So when Mayhem Films—producers of the new St Trinian's film starring Rupert Everett, Colin Firth and Mischa Barton—needed a priceless work of art for a grand heist in the movie, the company turned to the Bridgeman Art Library for a realistic reproduction of a masterpiece.
Part of the plot in the new movie involves the infamous St Trinian’s girls attempting to steal Vermeer's famous Girl with a Pearl Earring canvas and Bridgeman’s Art on Demand service provided the film with a very convincing likeness of the original work.
While, concerned art lovers need not worry, the real masterpiece is still safe in The Hague, co-producer Mark Hubbard noted that some film goers will pick up on the irony of selecting the Vermeer work for the film: "Not least because we had Colin Firth in our film—there was also a joke about 'stealing' Scarlett Johansson!"
enrolls at 'St. Trinian's'
Pic sells to Germany, Benelux
(Variety, May 16, 2007, by Adam Dawtrey/Cannes)
Mischa Barton has joined the cast of Ealing Studios comedy "St. Trinian's," which has also completed its first two international pre-sales to Concorde/TeleMunchen in Germany and Paradiso in Benelux.
Pic, which started shooting in March, also stars Rupert Everett, Colin Firth and Lena Headey in a caper about the girls of a posh boarding school. It's co-directed by Oliver Parker and Ealing topper Barnaby Thompson.
Barton joins St Trinian's movie
Actress and model Mischa Barton has signed up for a role in the new St Trinian's film. The 21-year-old, who starred in US teen drama The OC, will be playing the character JJ French.
Ealing pins hopes on film - Studio's 'St. Trinian's' launching at Cannes
(Variety, May 11, 2007, by Adam Dawtrey)
It's hard to imagine anything more English than Rupert Everett in drag, up to hijinks with a bunch of saucy schoolgirls. But will they get the joke in Tokyo, Turin or Topeka?
Barnaby Thompson is praying they do. His ambitious project to restore Blighty's historic Ealing Studios to its former glory will reach a crucial moment this month, when its new international sales arm launches "St. Trinian's" at Cannes, amid as much hullabaloo as it can muster. Expect to see nubile British starlets parading down the Croisette in gym slips, which should at least get the Japanese buyers through the door.
This $12 million caper, set in a posh girls' boarding school presided over by a strangely masculine headmistress played by Everett, is a contemporary reprise of a 50-year-old series of Brit films, much loved in Blighty but unknown abroad. The old Ealing of the 1940s and '50s could rely on a strong home market to support classic comedies like "The Ladykillers," "Kind Hearts and Coronets" and "The Man in the White Suit," without worrying about how they would play abroad. But the 21st century Ealing must tailor its Britishness to global tastes.
The debut of Ealing Studios Intl., headed by Natalie Brenner, thus reps a major turning point in the ability of the reborn studio to control its own destiny. Brenner's not just there to sell the movies, but to make sure Ealing makes only what the market wants to buy.
"St. Trinian's," which Thompson is co-directing alongside his old chum Oliver Parker, is actually the second Ealing movie Brenner has handled....Brenner is much more optimistic about "St Trinian's." With Entertainment Film Distributors aboard for the U.K., the high concept—a British version of "Mean Girls"—plus the ensemble of Colin Firth, Lena Headey, Toby Jones, Caterina Murino and, of course, a busload of Blighty's most alluring young actresses—presales are already rolling in Germany and Benelux. [...]
According to m.d. James Spring, that's what encouraged Investec to provide gap finance for "St. Trinian's." The studio's symbolic importance to the British film industry also explains why the U.K. Film Council, which initially turned down "St. Trinian's," rode to the rescue when the tax funding collapsed two weeks before the start of shooting. [...]
What Ealing needs now is a hit to define its new era. Whether "St. Trinian's" fits the bill will be much clearer after the schoolgirls strut their stuff in Cannes.
|Dude looks like a
lady at St Trinian's school
(Daily Mail, April 10, 2007)
Resembling a middle-aged school matron, it's hard to believe that beneath the wig and frumpy clothes, is suave 47-year-old Rupert Everett. After playing a stream of charming, upper-class dandys, the British actor has gone back to school, admittedly one like no other, in the comedy 'St. Trinian's'. He plays Miss Tritton in the film set in a school for 'young ladies' where an anarchic doctrine of free expression runs riot.
While Everett will be hamming it up, the straight guy will be played by that other British gent, Colin Firth (Hugh Grant is the third member of this well-loved triumvirate). It's been 23 years since Firth made his first big screen debut, incidentally opposite Everett, in 'Another Country'. Since then, the two have appeared in several other films together including the Oscar-winning 'Shakespeare in Love'.
Headey enroll at 'St Trinian's' - Cast includes Imrie, Chancellor
(Variety, Apr 10, 2007, by Adam Dawtrey
Several new cast members have joined the Ealing Studios comedy "St Trinian's," including Toby Jones ("Infamous") and Lena Headey ("300"). Jones and Headey, along with Celia Imrie and Anna Chancellor, will play staff at the infamous girls' boarding school of the title, while model Lily Cole and newcomer Gemma Arteton will play two of the schoolgirls.
The movie, currently shooting, is directed by Oliver Parker and Barnaby Thompson, and financed by Entertainment Film Distributors and the U.K. Film Council.
|St Trinian's let loose on
(metro.co.uk, Mar 21, 2007)
Filming for Rupert's new film is to start soon
Residents of Ealing, beware! The 'ladies' of St Trinian's school are about to descend on a studio near you. It has been announced that March 25 will be the day of reckoning at Ealing Studios in west London, as filming begins for an updated version of the chaotic camp classic.
Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Stephen Fry and Russell Brand are all lined up to star in the film about the infamous school for 'young ladies'.
St Trinian's is once again facing dire financial crisis.
Unorthodox headmistress Camilla Fritton (Rupert Everett who also plays her brother, Carnaby Fritton) has her hands full dealing with the new Education Minister Geoffrey Thwaites' (Colin Firth) tireless advances and his mission to transform her chaotic establishment into a 'respectable' ladies college—so the responsibility for saving the school falls to the anarchic pupils.
The film also features comedian Russell Brand as Flash Harry, Casino Royale star Caterina Murino as languages teacher Miss Maupassant and Stephen Fry playing the Quizmaster of "School Challenge".
Filming will last for nine quiet, uneventful weeks.
St Trinians gets UK Lottery backing
(Screendaily, Mar 20, 2007)
Oliver Parker and Barnaby Thompson's St Trinians has received $2.3m (£1.3m) National Lottery funding through the UK Film Council's Premiere Fund. The film had faced an uncertain future having had its GAAP funding plans scuppered during last week's tax crackdown in the UK. It is one of very UK few films that had looked in significant difficulty after the move but now it can start shooting this weekend.
The cast includes Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Stephen Fry, Jodie Whittaker, Tamsin Egerton, Tallulah Riley and comedian Russell Brand.
The film is being produced and directed by Oliver Parker and Barnaby Thompson from a script written by Piers Ashworth and Nick Moorcroft.
"This is a British project through and through with a fantastic cast and a very experienced and talented production team. We are very pleased to be supporting St Trinian's, an exciting comedy feature with great potential to appeal to a contemporary audience." said Sally Caplan, Head of the Premiere Fund.
The film is an Entertainment Film Distributors and Ealing Studios presentation of a Fragile Film with funding from the UK Film Council's Premiere Fund, Entertainment and Investec. Ealing Studios is handling international sales.
Rude Russell joins belles at St Trinian's
by Baz Bamigboye, Daily Mail, March 9, 2007
Those little horrors from St Trinian's will soon be bursting out of their gymslips as they return to the big screen.
Setting a very fine example in the staffroom will be Caterina Murino, a former Miss Italy finalist and one of the most beautiful of recent Bond girls, in Casino Royale. She will play what the script describes as 'the provocatively dressed and ridiculously sexy' language mistress, Miss Maupassant.
Her lessons at the present-day St Trinian's will include showing the young gels how to put their best front forward. Filming starts later this month, with Rupert Everett in the joint role of headmistress Camilla Fritton and her brother Carnaby, a descendant of the character Alastair Sim played in the original run of movies in the Fifties, which were based on illustrations by Ronald Searle. They've been on TV a thousand times, so you'll recognise him/ her/them.
The original films featured legendary screen comedians such as Joyce Grenfell, George Cole, Irene Handl and Joan Sims.
This time, along with Everett, producers and co-directors Barnaby Thompson and Oliver Parker have recruited Colin Firth as the Education Minister and, in what they hope will be an inspired bit of casting, rude boy Russell Brand as Flash Harry, the part Cole made so memorable.
Fast-rising star Jodie Whittaker, who starred opposite Peter O'Toole in Venus, plays Beverly, the bottle-blonde school secretary. In one scene she'll be wearing a T-shirt that reads 'Talk To The Chest Coz The Face Ain't Listening'.
The school's posh totty, transferred from Cheltenham times, so you'll recognise him/Ladies College, will be the headmistress's niece Annabelle Fritton, played by Talulah Riley who was one of the Bennet sisters in Joe Wright's film of Pride And Prejudice. (Ms Riley, it should be noted, is actually an old girl of Haberdashers' Aske's.)
Lucy Punch (currently in hit film Hot Fuzz) will play a snotty girl from a rival school, while Tamsin Egerton will be one of the smarter St Trinian's brats and the seductive school uniforms will be created by Penny Rose and Rebecca Hale.
Richard E. Grant is also in the film which will, appropriately, be shooting at Ealing Studios and at an old school building in Oxfordshire.
In the new film, simply called St Trinian's, the girls will combine their skills to enter a TV quiz show hosted by Stephen Fry and become involved in a daring heist.
'St. Trinian's' adds cast: Firth, Everett, Watson on board Ealing pic
(Variety, Mar 7, 2007, by Adam Dawtry)
Emily Watson, Colin Firth, Rupert Everett and comedian Russell Brand are set to star in "St. Trinian's," Ealing Studios' new version of the classic British comedy franchise that spawned several popular movies in the 1950s and 1960s.
Ealing topper Barnaby Thompson, will make his helming debut, co-directing with his regular collaborator, Oliver Parker. Thompson and Parker will also share the producing credit.
"St. Trinian's," originally inspired by books and cartoons by Ronald Searle, centers on the madcap adventures of a group of unruly girls who attend the eponymous boarding school. The latest revival is written by Piers Ashworth and Nick Moorcroft.
Watson will play the central teacher character (played in the original pics by Joyce Grenfell), while Everett will play the double cross-dressing role of the headmistress and her unscrupulous brother (originally Alistair Sim). Brand will play Flash Harry, the local small-time crook who helps the girls get into scrapes.
Cast also includes Caterina Murino ("Casino Royale"), Jodie Whittaker ("Venus"), Talulah Riley and Tamsin Egerton; Richard E. Grant and Stephen Fry do cameos.
Production is due to begin March 26, having delayed a week following the U.K. government's March 2 tax clampdown, which sunk part of the financing from Ingenious Film Partners. Entertainment Film Distributors is co-financing the film and taking U.K. rights, and Thompson is in the final stages of securing the remaining coin. Ealing's own sales arm is handling foreign sales.
"The Belles of St. Trinian's" started the franchise in 1954, followed by "Blue Murder at St. Trinian's" in 1957, "The Pure Hell of St. Trinian's" in 1960 and the "The Great St. Trinian's Train Robbery" in 1966. The series was revived in 1980 with "The Wildcats of St. Trinian's." The latest movie is not a remake of any previous "St. Trinian's" adventure but an attempt to create a 21st century version of the franchise.
St Trinian's belles to ring once more
(Independent, October 10, 2006, by Guy Adams)
They coined the phrase "jolly hockey sticks", and inspired a generation of schoolgirls to throw stink bombs and flash their stocking-tops at authority. Now, after a quarter of a century's orderly silence, the girls of St Trinian's are making a comeback.
The classic boarding school capers of the 1950s and 1960s are to be updated for this less innocent age. They will return in a series of multimillion-pound revamps filmed at the spiritual home of British slapstick, Ealing Studios.
Details of the ambitious project emerged on Sunday, when the actor Rupert Everett revealed that he will take on the role of Millicent Fritton, the harassed headmistress made famous by the late Alastair Sim.
According to Everett, the updated St Trinian's films are likely to be more controversial than the riotous originals, which were once described by a film critic as "nostalgic hymns to a golden age of juvenile delinquency" .
In contrast to their gymslip-clad forebears—who typically made catapults from knicker-elastic and chased men around the lacrosse pitch—today's St Trinian's girls will be faced with teenage pregnancies and the temptations of drugs.
Everett said the decision to "sex up" a genre hitherto associated with bun fights, gymslip rebellion, and elaborate plots to blow up the school had been the subject of heated behind-the-scenes debate.
"I disagreed with everyone over whether to retain some of the innocence of the original, or to update it," he told an audience at the Cheltenham Festival of Literature.
"I, of course, wanted to make the schoolgirls into drug-dealers and prostitutes and what have you. Others disagreed. But in the end it was decided that my way is how it will be."
The spirit of the St Trinian's series is to break taboos, he added. In the 1950s, the genre set many a moustache twitching with scenes of stocking-clad teenage girls disappearing for what, in Ealing parlance, was known as a " slap'n'tickle" behind the bike sheds.
"I think the new films will be shocking, but you've got to remember that the original St Trinian's films were also shocking in their day. People didn't think girls would actually behave like that. We've decided that the films should be as dangerous today as they were back then, which means having to pull out all the stops."
However shocking it eventually proves to be, the decision to reprise the St Trinian's genre will delight fans of the original series, which began with The Belles of St Trinian's in 1954, and spanned an era considered to be the golden age of the Ealing Comedy.
The four original films—together with a poorly-received 1980 revival, Wildcats of St Trinian's—were based on a fictional boarding school that had previously featured in illustrations published by the reclusive cartoonist Ronald Searle during the 1940s.
Searle had in turn been inspired by the real-life St Trinnean's, an Edinburgh "school for young ladies" which closed in 1946, and is now part of the University of Edinburgh's Pollock Halls of Residence.
St Trinnean's had already achieved notoriety thanks to its headmistress, Catherine Fraser Lee, a progressive figure who once insisted that pupils eat their meals backwards for an entire term, starting with pudding and ending with soup.
Inspired by Miss Lee, Searle created a series of cartoons that portrayed a dark and anarchic institution. He drew vultures circling over girls who had been murdered with pitchforks, or succumbed to violent team sports. Other pupils would drink, gamble and smoke.
Meanwhile, the famous "gym-slip" uniform worn by pupils in both the Searle cartoons and later films was based on that of James Allen's Girls School in Dulwich, south London, an independent school where Searle sent his daughter, Kate.
In the early 1950s, Searle was approached by Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliatt, a prolific writing and directing duo who made more than 40 films, including Green for Danger, The Happiest Days of Your Life, and the Dick Emery vehicle Ooh ... You Are Awful! Launder and Gilliat toned down Searle's cartoons for the silver screen.
In addition to Alastair Sim (in drag) their principal stars were George Cole, who played the local n'er do well, "Flash" Harry, and Joyce Grenfell, as the beleaguered policewoman Ruby Gates.
"There had previously been a strong tradition of schoolboy romps in film, but having girls gave it a further farcical edge." said Dick Fiddy of the British Film Institute, an expert on the Ealing Comedies.
"It was a clever move. After the war there was a general relaxation of standards, and people wanted a sort of farcical escapism."
Escapism was exactly what they got. The four original St Trinian's films followed a well-worked pattern: thanks (mostly) to the efforts of "Flash " Harry, the school would become embroiled in a shady enterprise; it would be threatened with closure by the Ministry of Education; and then the girls would attempt to outwit the ministry, often with hilarious consequences.
"The whole joy of the St Trinian's series was the way that the girls behaved like hoodlums," Mr Fiddy said. "In scenes where they attack someone, they were literally like a horde of rampaging barbarians. The films were fantastically jolly, and although they don't look shocking now, probably were at the time."
They were also highly profitable films. Like most Ealing Comedies of the time - including most of the Carry On franchise—Launder and Gilliatt's St Trinian's films were all produced to tight budgets and in a matter of months. "They were successful in the same way as a lot of other directors of the time were," Mr Fiddy said.
"They made films at a gallop. There was a factory element to it, but it ran like a well-oiled machine, and they were technically very sharp. I would say that The Belles of St Trinian's, in particular, is a very, very well made farce."
That film begins with Barchester police attempting to break up an illegal betting ring being run by the schoolgirls, by getting Ruby Gates to infiltrate the school posing as a new teacher.
Its sequel, Blue Murder at St Trinian's has an equally preposterous premise.
With their headmistress jailed—and the police and army called in to keep order—the girls win a competition with a European "goodwill" trip as a prize, allowing them to visit Italy, where they hope to snare a rich playboy as a husband.
It proved to be a winning formula, and as the series prospered, a generation of comic actors came of age in the fictional school. Terry Thomas, Sid James, John Le Mesurier and Frankie Howerd took cameo roles in later films, while a young Barbara Windsor cut her teeth as an extra in The Pure Hell of St Trinian's.
The star of the show, however, was Sim, who occasionally stepped out of the unconvincing drag he wore as the booming Millicent Fritton to portray her endearingly dodgy brother, Clarence.
Everett, who will take on Sim's mantle, may be helped by today's higher production standards. He said on Sunday that he is likely to be fitted with elaborate prosthetics and make-up to transform him into a convincing female lead.
"My role as the headmistress is made difficult because of the fact that I have a very angular neck and nose," he said.
"What will probably happen is that I will have to spend four or five hours being fitted with prosthetic body parts. We will then spend a day filming me in front of a blank screen from every angle. With a decent budget, the technology these days will then allow the whole thing to be transferred on to the final film."
Searle has rarely commented on his role in the St Trinian's films, believing that he created something of a monster. However, his literary agents, the Sayle agency, are currently involved in negotiations concerning the new project.
Heading the project is Barnaby Thompson, who directed Everett in The Importance of Being Earnest. His firm, Fragile Films, part-owns Ealing Studios, and bought production rights to the St Trinian's series in 2002.
Mr Thompson's office said yesterday that final details of the films' finance deal were being tied up this week and it was unwilling to comment further until contracts had been signed.
Everett, meanwhile, is looking forward to the new era of St Trinian's with cautious optimism: "It's a very difficult project partly because the first two St Trinian's films were real masterpieces, and one of the rules of thumb of the film industry is that you never remake a masterpiece."
Yet aficionados of the films remain intrigued. Mr Fiddy said: "There is something peculiarly British about St Trinian's, and in that respect, having a peculiarly British star like Everett makes perfect sense. But with talents like Alastair Sim, it will be a very hard act to follow."