I was reminded by Boing Boing that the St Trinian’s film came out earlier this week.
And to celebrate this dubious event I’ve decided to never ever watch it. Instead I’d like to celebrate the St Trinian’s I grew up with.
Because, on my fathers bookcase, amongst the classics and the tell tale signs of an English teacher (Shakespeare, Dickens, Orwell et al) were a few cartoon books: Fred Bassett, a Charles Addams, Giles annuals and a Ronald Searle St Trinian’s book. Every so often when I wandered the house bored during the endless Summer holidays, I would meander my way into his study and peruse the shelves looking for anything to read. And a deep abiding love of these three books grew and grew.
So St Trinian’s for me definitely isn’t some dodgy film described by Mark Kermode as “badly written, grubbliy acted, poorly filmed”. And it isn’t even the much better 1960s films with George Cole and the great Alastair Sim. It’s all about this:
(Ronald Searle’s St Trinian’s cartoons. Absolute perfection.)
And lucky folks that you are, instead of simply going to get the movie on DVD you can now pop along and get this instead. (Or even better, buy it for me.)
(St Trinian’s: The Entire Appalling Business. Ronald Searle. This is the US version of the collection, but looks like it’s freely available over here. It just looks so much better than the British version does.)
There’s something so wonderfully English about these St Trinian’s cartoons, just like there was about Giles and Fred Bassett (ironically they were partly inspired by a Scottish school in Edinburgh though, not an English school! – Joe). They couldn’t have come from anywhere else. And most probably couldn’t have come from any other time either. The remake of the film seems to prove this. Scheming, devious, anarchic schoolgirls that entertained us in Searle’s version merely serve to titilate and make dodgy phone sex gags in the new film. (And yes, I know there were some dodgy Sixth Form girls in the 60s films, but nowhere near the sorts of things I’ve seen in just the previews in the current film.)
So you can keep your remake. Searle’s cartoons are the beginning, the middle and the end of St Trinian’s for me.
There’s a couple of Ronald Searle sites that look official (Ronald Searle.com and .co.uk respectively) but they’re not that great. One of the nicest resources I could find is this good tribute blog and of course there’s always wikipedia.