11 October 2010 | cattwister
Of its time...
"once you have paid him the Dane-geld you never get rid of the Dane." Rudyard Kipling
Well, well, well... St Trinians as political comment. Other reviewers have mentioned this, but it is little wonder that this film flopped in 1980 when it was released upon a trade-union obsessed UK public. The film sends up the trade union movement and strongly critiques any attempt to compromise with the "workers" and meet their demands... a lesson that the 1980's UK government took to heart after the appeasement tactics of the 1970's. Unlike most other reviewers I liked this film: it is a clear and obvious continuation of the original franchise with many character touches lifted directly from the first four films, much more-so than the remakes (updated versions) in 2007 and 2009.
I bought this film because of its reputation - here is a UK film so "appalingly bad" that you can't actually buy it in the UK (my copy had to be bought via the USA but from a UK based-supplier!) - and I was prepared to witness a truly atrocious piece of cinema... Perhaps that mindset helped me to see the good in it where others can only see the bad. This film is a product of its time - much as the originals were. Wildcats from 1980 is similar in style to the Carry On movies minus most (but not all) of the smuttiness and bawdy humour. It is still *very* much a children's film - for UK children.
To me, this film was truer to the original film than the remakes because the driving force behind the girl's mayhem was the "lower sixth form", still wearing silly hats and wielding hockey-sticks, and not the "upper sixth form" in their short skirts and bikinis (and for all those tut-tutting about that... the "sexy" schoolgirls were in the earlier films too... If you watch Wildcats and all you can see are the upper-sixth girls, pro or con, then I can guarantee that *you* are bringing that perspective with you to the film... that said, the opening credits' "dance number" was truly crass). The 2007 and 2009 remakes switched this "upper/lower" dynamic around and let the upper-sixth lead the action far too much - which was a mistake in my opinion.
This film fails - or is rather unintentionally funny - when it lurches over into bizarre racial and gender stereotypes - particularly Harry who is running a "legitimate" Chinese take-away actually disguised as a Chinese man (which he is not) in a truly this-could-only-be-the-70's-or-early-80s sort of way. Or the bimbo fitness instructor (was she actually Swedish or was that just a joke?), or the Dutch headmistress with her box of chocolates - although, to be fair, nobody can follow Alastair Sim as the headmistress and get away with it. Note the underlying theme here: foreigners - welcome to xenophobic England! The acting is more ham-fisted "TV comedy" than "film star" but then again that's also the case with the Carry On films... It is what it is.
Bottom line: slightly better than just "ok". If you like the more raucous UK comedies from the 1970's (and I do) then this will work for you. It is nowhere near as bad as other reviews are making out. I laughed with it and I laughed at it. It's a comedy. And a window into the attitudes of late 1970's UK.