Angel Faced Mills
Mary Clancy (Hayley Mills - That Darn Cat!) and Rachel Devery (June Harding) meet on the train as they head to St. Francis Academy, an all girls school run by nuns and neither Mary nor Rachel really want to go there. As such it doesn't take long for them to get up to mischief, breaking rules, smoking in the basement and putting soap powder in the nuns sugar but every time they get caught by the Mother Superior (Rosalind Russell - Gypsy) who makes them do pots and pans as punishment. But with each year the girls grow up, not only becoming best of friends but in the case of Mary gaining a respect for the work and sacrifice of the nuns.
Maybe it is because I like the original "St. Trinian's" movies and also the fresh faced appeal of a young Hayley Mills that I really like "The Trouble with Angels" despite knowing that it isn't really ground breaking in anyway. It has a touch of the "St. Trinian's" humour about it as we watch Mary Clancy and her friend Rachel prank their way through school and whilst we see Hayley Mills smoking she still has that fresh faced, young girl persona going on which dominated her previous movies. But I suppose what makes "The Trouble with Angels" that little bit more is that whilst there is obvious comedy and a lot of cliche character elements it also has a heart as we watch Mary growing up, understanding and respecting the nuns who have taught her and her classmates over their 3 years at St. Francis'.
So as already mentioned "The Trouble with Angels" doesn't really feature any new ideas and every time you hear Mary Clancy utter the words "I've got the most scathingly brilliant idea!" you know that she has some sort of prank in mind. As such we watch over the space of 3 years Mary Clancy and her best friend Rachel making money by giving tours of the Nun's private quarters, putting soap powder in their sugar bowls and smoking in the basement. Basically it's "St. Trinian's" but a toned down version with no violence just simple pranks which more often or not end up with Mary and Rachel doing pots and pans as punishment. But whilst unoriginal it is still good fun especially with Mother Superior often being one step ahead of the girls.
But that is just part of the movie as we also watch as Mary grows up and starts to appreciate what the nuns do for them especially the Mother Superior. It's not the most revealing of stories as we go from Mary not liking them at all to, well I won't say but the big surprise is not really a surprise at all. But it actually makes "The Trouble with Angels" quite charming as Mary realises that Mother Superior is not as cold and frosty as she thought and once upon a time had an exciting life prior to devoting her life to Christ.
But whilst we do have these two elements the pranking followed by appreciation that is all there really is to "The Trouble with Angels" yet it ends up feeling more thanks to the enjoyable performances. Now whilst it's hard not to laugh at Mary Wickes as Sister Clarence or the funny face of June Harding who plays Rachel "The Trouble with Angels" really is a movie which belongs to Hayley Mills and Rosalind Russell. In many ways Hayley Mills as Mary Clancy plays a very similar, lovable character which we had seen her do before but with that mischievous side of being a prankster and shock horror one who smokes as well. And Rosalind Russell behind her Nun's outfit makes for a wonderfully stern character but one who you know absolutely loves the girls which she guides through 3 years of their lives. But what makes it so good is the warmth which both actors bring to the roles as Mary comes to appreciate Mother Superior and what she is doing for her.
What this all boils down to is that "The Trouble with Angels" is a simple and charming movie, one which isn't the most original but put together nicely to deliver humour and warmth. Watching it now it is hard not to feel that it is a bit cheesy in places but strangely it adds to the movie's simple charm.