Old Mother Riley Headmistress

Old Mother Riley, Headmistress is a low budget black and white 1950 British comedy film, starring Arthur Lucan and Kitty McShane. The 13th film in the Old Mother Riley series, it features the Luton Girls Choir playing many of Mother Riley's pupils.

Old Mother Riley, Headmistress
UK theatrical poster
Directed byJohn Harlow
Produced byGordon D. Myers
Screenplay byTed Kavanagh
John Harlow
Story byJackie Marks
Con West
StarringArthur Lucan
Kitty McShane
The Luton Girls Choir
Music byGeorge Melachrino
Arthur E. Davies (Choral Director) Luton Girls Choir)
CinematographyJames Wilson
Edited byDouglas Myers
Harry Reynolds Productions
Distributed byRenown Pictures
Release date
Running time
75 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Plot summary

Daughter Kitty is sacked from her job as music teacher at an exclusive girls school, but Mother Riley unexpectedly comes into an inheritance, and decides to buy the girls finishing school and give Kitty her job back. Mother Riley soon establishes herself as headmistress at St. Mildred's School for Young Ladies, and throws herself into her new role with vigour, whether it's taking P.E. lessons, brazenly cheating on Sports Day, or confronting the haunted school piano.[1][2]


  • Daphne Snowdrop Bluebell Riley ... Arthur Lucan
  • Kitty Riley ... Kitty McShane
  • School Choir ... The Luton Girls Choir
  • Bill Travers ... Willer Neal
  • Maltby ... Cyril Smith
  • Clifton Hill ... C. Denier Warren
  • Miss Helen Carruthers ... Enid Hewitt
  • Nixon ... Paul Sheridan
  • Simon ... Harry Herbert
  • Copeland ... Oswald Waller
  • Mlle Leblanc ... Jenny Mathot
  • Miss Chester ... Myrette Morven
  • Lady Meersham ... Ethel Royal
  • Mayor ... Bill Stephens
  • Miss Ashton ... Catherine Carleton (Katie Boyle)
  • Mrs Shaw ... Dorothy Darke
  • 1st laundry girl ... Vi Kaley
  • 2nd laundry girl ... Jaqueline Stanley
  • Maisie ... Beth Ross
  • Mrs Clarke ... Madge Brindley
  • Woman ...Pamela Hill
  • Chauffeur ... Graham Tonbridge
  • Girls ... Patricia Owens
  • Genine Graham
  • Joy Frankau
  • Betty Benson
  • Mary Thompson
  • Suzanne Wilde
  • Doorn Van Steyne
  • Coral Woods
  • Joy Adams
  • Cora Farrel
  • Sally Owen
  • Lyn James
  • Ursula Hopwood
  • Diana Connell

Critical reception

  • Anthony Nield wrote in The Digital Fix, " whilst the idea of Old Mother Riley owning her own girls’ school should provide plenty of comic mileage, we’re still faced with some pointless musical numbers to pad things out...(but) there’s a chirpiness and a punch in the screenplay which is hard not to enjoy. Of course, any level of sophistication is kept at a bare minimum (Lucan was never the subtlest of actors; he performed for the camera just as he did on the stage), but in its own way …Headmistress has an energy equal to that of, say, Hellzapoppin' or the Marx Brothers A Night in Casablanca, even if both are far superior and much funnier. There’s a non-stop quality to the gags which, whilst the film may ultimately be forgettable, amounts to great deal of fun. Certainly, for a thirteenth entry in a big screen franchise (and one made almost as many years after the first), it’s far better than we should rightfully expect."[3]
  • TV Guide noted, "a poor addition to the "Old Mother Riley" stable...If you see only one "Old Mother Riley" film in your lifetime, don't make it this one."[4]
  • "Fielding's Review" wrote, "lots of fun gags in this one. Along with Old Mother Riley Meets the Vampire, it’s the best of the set."[5]


  1. "Old Mother Riley Meets The Vampire/Old Mother Riley Headmistress DVD: Amazon.co.uk: Arthur Lucan, Kitty McShane: Film & TV". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
  2. "Old Mother Riley". Fieldingsreview.com. 17 May 1954. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
  3. Nield, Anthony (11 January 2006). "Old Mother Riley Meets the Vampire / Old Mother Riley Headmistress | DVD Video Review | Film @ The Digital Fix". Film.thedigitalfix.com. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
  4. "Old Mother Riley, Headmistress Review". Movies.tvguide.com. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
  5. "Old Mother Riley". Fieldingsreview.com. 17 May 1954. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
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