1. LittleMissBloodAndGuts
  2. Pamela

Why a list about girls' boarding school movies, you ask? Because boarding school movies are the last frontier of teen titillation for an adult audience. For most viewers, such institutions are mysterious entities, seldom experienced in real life, where deprivation of the opposite sex spurs either pent up frustration, hanky-panky, daring antics, or all of the above. Suffice it say that while there are all kinds of girls' boarding schools, they all have three things in common: a distinct lack of boys; the estrogen is so thick you could cut it with a knife; no one wants to be there. My mom sent me to a snooty all girls academy, and I hated it, because she sent the me there to keep me off boys. Then I discovered girls, but that's another story. Or is it? Because the appeal to half of these movies is the stereotypically male mental image of scores of girls in short pleated skirts, engaging in pillow fights, and sleeping together in dormitories clad only in their underwear. Well, it wasn't like that, at least not at mine. And the same goes for inappropriate activity, such as that between teachers and students, despite several notable incidents, none of which were ever officially acknowledged. There were always however, hushed rumors and whispered jokes about an undercurrent of inevitable, illicit sex, which is hinted at if not openly acknowledged in some of the following flicks. All seriousness aside however, films such as Cracks, and Loving Annabelle) demonstrate how the setting can be a good one for real drama, not to mention girls' coming of age stories as in Flirting and the recent Tanner Hall. Here then, is Pam's list of Girls (boarding) School Movies: (Serious films are at the top, with grade B silliness at the end. I have very high hopes for Tanner Hall and St. Trinian's, both of which seem to hold promise.) (Honorable mention for But I'm A Cheerleader. It doesn't take place in a boarding school, but a special camp for lezzies is the next best thing.) Not yet in the Flixster database: Girls' School, (1938)

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  LittleMissBloodAndGuts's Rating My Rating
Boarding School 1977,  R)
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie 1969,  PG)
Cracks 2011,  R)

For a comprehensive list of girls' boarding school films, click here: GIRLS' SCHOOL movie list

CRACKS (2009), UK
WRITTEN BY: Ben Court, Caroline Ip, and Jordan Scott based upon the novel by Sheila Kohler
DIRECTED BY: Jordan Scott
FEATURING: Eva Green, Juno Temple, María Valverde, Imogen Poots, Ellie Nunn, Adele McCann, and Zoe Carroll
TAGS: disturbing

PLOT: At a wealthy, depression era Catholic boarding school, a dangerous love triangle erupts into savagery when a repressed teacher sexually targets a thirteen year old asthmatic aristocrat.

COMMENTS: Tense and suspenseful, Cracks is a well-paced, carefully crafted period piece. It is about the consequences of creating insular environments which breed mean-spirited hierarchies and draw ill-motivated authority figures. Situations in which the authority figures empower, reward and smile upon petty tyrants because they share the same deviant mindset and orientation.

In this offbeat tale of hatred and hazing, the cloistered children of favored society engage in cruel conformity at an all-girls' school in rural 1934 England. The story focuses on an elite Brody set of girls who comprise the academy's token diving team. The girls are mentored by their vapid instructor and swim coach, Miss G. (Green). (An apparent tribute to Muriel Sparks's novel and film, The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie.)

None of the students are really happy or normal. They are the issue of the minor gentry. Their absentee parents unceremoniously dump them off at St. Mathilda, and never return. Disposing of their kids frees the adults to pursue their lavish lifestyles. And the girls know it. The polite rejection, combined with a stifling parochial environment turns the kids into seething stew-pots of repressed self-doubt and resentment.

A titled Spanish heiress arrives. She is a precocious and cultured patrician. Of course the other girls retaliate. Fiamma (Valverde) becomes a magnet for their jealousy, licentiousness and rage. While most of the girls lament that their parents seem to have forgotten about them and will never bring them home again, privileged Fiamma is vocally confident that her stretch will be short. Fiamma enjoys lavish gifts and delicacies from home. She shares them with her classmates while regaling them with wondrous tales of travel experiences and folklore. This only make things worse.

Di Rutfield (Temple), the swim team captain, is at once overshadowed and out-performed. Fiamma outflanks her socially, culturally, intellectually, and most devastatingly of all, athletically. Di no longer sets the bar by which the other girls are measured. To the contrary, she must now measure up to it.

More perilously, Di has lost her favored status as the apple of Miss G's eye. Coveted, courted and pampered by the girls' diving coach, Di was bonded to her by a barely suppressed. mutual undercurrent of romantic and sexual high voltage. Upon Fiamma's debut, Miss G's attentions shift to the enigmatic new enchantress.

My own snobby boarding school wasn't Catholic, and it was well enough administered that there was a minimum of clique exclusiveness, hazing and cruelty. But oh my, do I ever recognize the personality of Miss G. She is a tortured closet lesbian, perpetually titillated by her juvenile charges. A bundle of insecurities and self-perceived inadequacies, Miss G. fortifies her ego by reveling in the matriarchal power or her position. She is quietly desperate, dangling on a smoldering time-fuse, and primed for an angry episode of sexually frustrated, catastrophic hysteria at the first hint of a substantial challenge to her authority.

Damningly, Miss G. is also a fraud who recites adventures from Mary Kingsley's Travels To West Africa (1897), claiming the experiences to be her own. Having been at St. Mathilda continuously since she was a schoolgirl, Miss G. convinces her students that she's a feisty, liberated explorer. Fiamma really has traveled however, and Miss G resents it. Gifted, independent, rebellious by the standard of the day, it's obvious Fiamma is more wordily and educated than Miss G.

Miss G. loves Fiamma, and she hates her. She wants to alternately kiss and slap the girl. Miss G. is drowning in a swirling infusion of hormonal captivation and intimidated insecurity. She veils her own closeted sexuality and verboten urges for Fiamma behind a tenuous mask of low key hostility. Churning under her increasingly strained visage lurks a poisonous cocktail of spite, infatuation, and abject lust. Tensions amplify. Fiamma, Di, and Miss G. square off. Together they plunge into a sensational maelstrom of bitter jealously, taboo coitus, madness, and salacious mayhem.

As in William Golding's novel Lord Of The Flies, there's an irony at play in Cracks. In Golding's work, which has inspired several films, schoolboys are sent away from England to protect them from war violence. Yet they promptly do battle with each other upon being shipwrecked. Becoming utter barbarians, they revert to the trees within hours of marooning.

In Cracks the girls study Christian values, social and intellectual refinement, self control and etiquette. When Fiamma smashes their authoritarian hierarchy, the schoolgirls' cultural and humanist graces evaporate. Collectively, they atavistically plunge to the lowest common denominator of bilious rivalry, sexual jealousy and brutality.

Cracks carries strong shadings of the Muriel Sparks novel and film, The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie, but it takes a dark departure. Tense, suspenseful, Cracks' gorgeous cinematography and top tier production values accentuate its thoughtfully plotted storyline. The result is a salacious firecracker of a picture! Cracks is a must-see experience for fans of such films as Heavenly Creatures, Loving Annabelle, and Picnic At Hanging Rock.

Cracks - trailer

Tanner Hall 2011,  R)
St. Trinian's 2007,  PG-13)
Loving Annabelle 2006,  Unrated)
Loving Annabelle
A moralistic, unlikely ending spoils this otherwise touching story, which features a non-pornographic lezzie love scene so hot that I my allegedly "straight" girlfriends admitted being turned-on.


Loving Annabelle is the third remake of Mädchen in Uniformwas (1933), and as is my understanding, each remake misses the point of the original a little bit more. Loving Annabelle is a tad sappy and maudlin, and the ending would be unlikely in real life. There is no way Annabelle and Simone would be stupid enough to allow themselves to be caught, and given how the Church so adamantly protects its priests there is simply no way that Mother Immaculata would turn Simone in to the authorities.


The ending is unnecessarily melodramatic and follows a pattern in US mass produced culture whereby characters who break taboos must be punished to prove the filmmakers don't advocate their behavior, even though the entire vehicle up to that point is usually a strong justification for breaking the taboo.
Therese and Isabelle 1968,  R)
Lost and Delirious 2001,  R)
Flirting 1990,  R)
Funny and touching, this is the most credible story I have seen about girls trapped in boarding school, While it's one of those awful Catholic schools, which is not something in my experience, the personalities depicted in this film come closest to reminding me of my own experiences.

After a tremendous build--up of sexual anticipation however, both for the two central characters, and vicariously, for the viewer, the way the second girl loses her cherry in the end is sordid, cheap and anti-anticlimactical. While it might be realistic for some girls, it wasn't believable that she would have chosen to do it this way given all that it meant to her.
Picnic at Hanging Rock 1975,  PG)
Picnic at Hanging Rock
A neat atmosphere piece that goes absolutely nowhere. It looks like an unusual historical murder mystery, with a story very much like Heavenly Creatures, but it is not. It goes absolutely nowhere. The story is so bad, the original ending which gives it away as being absurd fiction had to be excised from the film production. Like the author of the story, the producers led the audience to believe without actually lying that the film tells a true story. It does not, which renders its murkiness and ambiguous ending pointless. I was warned sternly to avoid this one, but I had to check out the lesbian school girl theme. Even that was poorly developed as a source of conflict and motive. Not a a steamy, risqué drama, not a sex parable, not a sensational whodunit, and not a movie I would recommend..
The Woods 2006,  R)
The Woods
This was a pretty good supernatural thriller with some overt acknowledgment of cruel lesbianism in the tradition of La Residencia.
The Finishing School (The House That Screamed) (The Boarding School) (La Residencia) 1970,  PG)
The Finishing School (The House That Screamed) (The Boarding School) (La Residencia)
Lesbianism, sexual repression, an Oedipal relationship between the headmistress and her son...and bloody murder! ! Weird, but well done.
Innocence 2004,  R)
Completely surreal and unusual, this is is a movie that fits in with a some kind of cross between a David Lynch movie and Alice In Wnderland.
Wild Child 2009,  PG-13)
A Little Princess 1995,  G)
The Trouble with Angels 1966,  PG)
Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows 1968,  G)
Mädchen in Uniform (Girls in Uniform) (Maidens in Uniform) 1931,  Unrated)
Mädchen in Uniform (Girls in Uniform) 1958,  Unrated)
These Three 1936,  Unrated)
The Children's Hour 1961,  G)
The Little Princess 1939,  G)
Youth in Revolt 2010,  R)
Youth in Revolt
Mike Cera courts his heart's desire who's packed away to a boarding school for French speaking girls, with some funny scenes in his gf's dorm room.
School for Unclaimed Girls 1969,  R)
Satan's School for Girls 1973,  Unrated)
School Girls in Chains 1973,  Unrated)
Private School 1983,  R)
Girls School Screamers 1986,  R)
Satan's School for Girls 2000,  Unrated)
Satan's School for Girls
Better than is sounds, Shannen Doherty is infiltrates a weird girls' boarding school to find her sister killer. Similarities to The Craft.
5ive Girls 2006,  Unrated)
5ive Girls
Corny and cheap, silly grade B fare for late nite cable, with a distinct lack of worthwhile nudity,.
Private School Girls #3 2007,  Unrated)
But I'm A Cheerleader 1999,  R)
But I'm A Cheerleader
. I was avoiding this, but after seeing some of writer/director Jamie Babbit's (The Quiet) other work, I am convinced she's bright, cynical, and sharp-witted. I am hoping But I'm A Cheerleader will play out like something written by tongue-in-cheek feminist, Diablo Cody (Jennifer's Body). Anyway, watching Heathers last week put me in the mood for more anti-clique, irreverent humor, and I have high hopes this movie is an overlooked gem. links: Read about Jamie Babbit and more girl directors at Bitch magazine online. More about Diablo Cody at Bitch.

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