A French Mistress
Original British quad poster
Directed byRoy Boulting
Screenplay byRoy Boulting
Jeffrey Dell
Based onplay The French Mistress by Sonnie Hale
Produced byJohn Boulting
StarringCecil Parker
James Robertson Justice
Ian Bannen
CinematographyMutz Greenbaum
Edited byJohn Jympson
Music byJohn Addison
Charter Film Productions
Distributed byBritish Lion (U.K.)
Films Around the World (U.S.)
Release date
  • 25 August 1960 (1960-08-25) (London)
Running time
98 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

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.[1]

It is based on a stage play, The French Mistress by Sonnie Hale under the pen name Robert Monro, first produced in 1955 at the Theatre Royal Windsor, starring Hale.[2][3][4]

Plot summary

A young French woman, Madaleine Lafarge, is unintentionally appointed as the French teacher at an English public school for boys, which is not used to having women teachers. She causes a stir with pupils and other school staff, and complications ensue.

A romance develops between Lafarge and the headmaster's son who is also a teacher at the school. This is a cause of concern for the headmaster when he comes to believe that she is 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. All the problems are resolved when it becomes apparent that she cannot be his daughter.


Critical reception

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."[5]


Tamahine, three years later, (1963), used the same theme.


  1. ^ "A French Mistress (1960)". BFI. Archived from the original on 12 July 2012.
  2. ^ "Sonnie Hale". BFI. Archived from the original on 22 July 2012.
  3. ^ "A French Mistress *** (1960, Cecil Parker, James Robertson Justice, Ian Bannen, Raymond Huntley, Irene Handl, Agnès Laurent) – Classic Movie Review 2117". Derek Winnert. 26 January 2015.
  4. ^ "The News Tribune from Fort Pierce, Florida · Page 12". Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ "Movie Reviews". The New York Times. 16 September 2021.