Once you've seen Ludwig Bemelmans' idiosyncratic drawing of the twelve little girls in two straight lines dissolve into little actors, you've seen it all. We're at a school for young ladies in Paris in the '50s. Hatty Jones as the fearless heroine is likeable, while McDormand is, as ever, absolutely in her role. Her Miss Clavel presents physical comedy instead of the rather neurotic tilt of the original; her panics are very watchable as she tries to keep tabs on her brood. Hawthorne could have phoned in his Lord Covington, who decides to sell the school, so little does he have to do. The various ambassadors who arrive as potential buyers are put off by pranks, none memorable. Another plot, presumably born of desperation, involves the kidnapping of the Spanish ambassador's son, who registers a faintly leering presence astride a motor scooter.