Trompé Setsuled (setsuled) wrote,
Trompé Setsuled

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When Male and Female Clouds Crash

When a couple hundred girls are accidentally bussed in to your boys' school, making do in the circumstances can be very difficult but you may sense somehow it's necessary. Headmaster Wetherby Pond (Alastair Sim) of the not at all suggestively named Nutbourne College fortunately has the assistance of Headmistress Muriel Whitchurch (Margaret Rutherford) of the misplaced and also definitely not suggestively named St. Swinthin's in 1950's The Happiest Days of Your Life. A sentiment about school life not usually shared by students but as one girl tells her parents before a professor can stop her this particular semester turns out to be "a real scorcher". The film is a very amusing screwball comedy.

Of course, both heads of the respective schools attempt to phone the ministry but seem continually put off by bureaucracy or a key representative's trip to a golf course. Things are bad enough trying to accommodate all the extra people in the house--Pond finds the drawers in his quarters have been emptied of his possessions and replaced by Whitchurch's undergarments. His clothes turn out to be hanging about his office. But then they face a crisis as parents of Whitchurch's students turn up for a tour of the girl's school while some members of Parliament turn up for a tour of Pond's boy's school at the same time. To conduct both tours, the heads, the staff, and the students attempt to effect a "miracle of timing" with results you might predict, such as a brawl between the rugby boys and the lacrosse girls.

My favourite Alastair Sim role is still in Alfred Hitchcock's Stage Fright. I'm still hoping to see another movie in which he's used the way I think he ought to have been, in which he's more genuinely cagey. But he is still quite good as the foolish, status obsessed Pond.

But my favourite lines in this movie actually come from Rutherford. I loved when she hastily contrives an explanation for photos of girls pinned up in the staff common room, explaining two photos of women in bikinis are of swim champion alumni and a photo of a can-can dancer is in fact a former student engaged in Morris dancing.

I also liked when a parent notices her child continually turning up in the different classrooms Whitchurch takes them to on the tour--because the girls are continually cycling through so that Pond can conduct his simultaneous tour for the MPs--and Whitchurch can only helplessly explain that the girl in question is "quite ubiquitous!"

The movie features a lot of effective supporting performances, too, particularly from Whitchurch's second in command Miss Gossage (Joyce Grenfell). There's also a completely pointless handsome male English school teacher in love with a pointless pretty female English school teacher who have only three or four small seemingly obligatory scenes--the filmmakers seem to have felt it necessary to have a straight romantic subplot as a counterbalance. Fortunately it's just barely in the film and not very obtrusive. It still ends up with the two of them kissing as though it means something to us and feels slightly odd when it of course means pretty much nothing.
Tags: alasair sim, comedy, frank launder, joyce grenfell, margaret rutherford, movies, screwball comedy

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