Release date10 November 1961 (1961-11-10) Based on"The French Mistress" WriterSonnie Hale (play), Roy Boulting (screenplay), Jeffrey Dell (screenplay)
A French Mistress is a 1960 British comedy film directed by Roy Boulting and starring Cecil Parker, James Robertson Justice, Agnès Laurent, Ian Bannen, Raymond Huntley, Irene Handl and Thorley Walters.
It is based on a stage play, "The French Mistress" by Robert Monro (AKA Sonnie Hale), first produced in 1959 at the Theatre Royal Windsor, starring Sonnie Hale.
A young French woman, Madaleine Lafarge (Laurent), is appointed as a French teacher at a rather old-fashioned English public school which is not used to women teachers. She causes a stir and complications ensue.
A romance develops between her and the headmaster's son (Bannen) who is also a teacher at the school. The headmaster (Parker) is concerned as he comes to believe that she is really his daughter, from an affair he had during a holiday in France in his youth. He attempts to stop the romance by sacking her so that she will go back to France, but the boys go on strike and nearly riot. It transpires at the end that there has been a misunderstanding, which means that she cannot be his daughter.
This is basically a rather lightweight British comedy film typical of its time, with a cast of veteran British character actors, although with a slightly prurient touch.
Cecil Parker - Headmaster John Crane
James Robertson Justice - Robert Martin
Ian Bannen - Colin Crane
Agnès Laurent - Madeleine LaFarge
Raymond Huntley - Reverend Edwin Peake
Irene Handl - Staff Sergeant Hodges
Edith Sharpe - Matron
Kenneth Griffith - Mr Meade
Robert Bruce - Mr Ramsay
Thorley Walters - Colonel Edmonds
Henry Longhurst - 2nd Governor
Brian Oulton - 3rd Governor
Scot Finch - Edmonds, Head Boy
Richard Palmer - Milsom
Peter Greenspan - Wigram
David Griffin - Slater
Jeremy Bulloch - Baines
David Diarmid Cammell - Vane
Chris Sandford - Poole
Gregory Warwick - Warwick
Nigel Bulloch - Proffit
Gordon Pleasant - Benson
Michael Crawford - Kent
Pearson Dodd - Church
Christopher Beeny - Stephenson
Athene Seyler - Beatrice Peake
Cardew Robinson - Ambulance Attendant
Margaret Lacey - Kitchen Maid
Paul Sheridan - M Fraguier, Previous French Teacher
Bosley Crowther in The New York Times wrote, "We would have expected something better from the Boultings and Mr. Dell. A good cast of old familiars—excepting Agnes Laurent, a newcomer who plays the mademoiselle — try to do something with it and occasionally do all right with a line here, a facial expression or a situation there. Cecil Parker puffs and pouts as the headmaster, and Ian Bannen stands up stoutly as his son. Raymond Huntley and James Robertson Justice do their acts as other masters in the school. Irene Handl also draws a few fast laughs as the compulsively pugnacious cook, and Edith Sharpe and Athene Seyler cluck politely as the only other females around the place. But the ministrations of the stalwarts do not quite save the day. The Boultings are onto a sticky wicket with that silly sex-scandal stuff."