At a cockamamie academy for girls, run by fussily severe headmistress Millicent Fritton (Sim), education is trumped by delinquency: cheating is encouraged, students concoct gin in chemistry class, and Fritton’s slimy brother Clarence (also Sim), is cooking the books, so to speak. With the school short on funds, Clarence involves the young ladies in a scheme to foil a gang of crooks attempting to rig a horse race. Meanwhile, the police have dispatched lady sleuth Ruby Gates (Grenfell) to look into complaints and unseemly doings at St. Trinian’s, raising the stakes for everyone.
A nutty British comedy based on characters created by renowned English cartoonist Ronald Searle, Frank Launder’s “Belles” is farce with a capital “F.” In a delicious dual role, the great comic actor Alastair Sim plays the selfish headmistress and her oilier-than-thou sibling, while Joyce Grenfell wrings a rich vein of humor from her turn as a gullible spy posing as a teacher. But the true marvel here is George Cole as a conniving Cockney guy acting as a go-between for the girls and their bookie. “Belle”-issimo!