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Serious Charge (1959)

An unmarried vicar, the Reverend Howard Phillips (Anthony Quayle), newly arrived in the parish of Bellington, attempts to force local 19-year-old thug and petty criminal Larry Thompson (Andrew Ray) to face up to his responsibilities to Mary Williams (Leigh Madison), the naive young girl he has made pregnant.

Tempers are lost, a struggle ensues, and in retaliation, Thompson accuses Phillips of “interfering with him”. The episode is witnessed by Hester Peters (Sarah Churchill), the daughter of the parish’s previous clergyman (Noel Howlett), who had become infatuated with the athletic and handsome new vicar.

However, having earlier seen a young girl (Mary) leaving the vicarage late one night (she had sought the vicar’s advice about her pregnancy), Hester jumps to the conclusion the two are romantically linked and with the fury of a woman scorned, refuses to contradict Thompson’s palpably false accusation.

The big draw-card of the film was the cameo role of Cliff Richard, then a teenage pop idol, as Larry Thompson’s layabout younger brother, Curley.

Richard barely speaks in his movie debut, although he does sing three songs, including Living Doll (#1 in the British Charts and the top-selling song of 1959), which he sings in the local café to the rather incongruous accompaniment of The Shadows (still known as The Drifters at the time) and the Norrie Paramour orchestra.

A fellow delinquent was played by another 1950s rock and roll star, the uncredited Jess Conrad in an early acting performance.

Written and produced by Mickey Delamar, the film was adapted from a stage play written by Philip King.

Reverend Howard Phillips
Anthony Quayle
Hester Peters
Sarah Churchill
Larry Thompson
Andrew Ray
Mrs Phillips
Irene Browne
Bill Thompson
Percy Herbert
Reverend Peters
Noel Howlett
Sergeant Harrison
Wensley Pithey
Mary Williams
Leigh Madison
Probation Officer (Miss Langton)
Judith Furse
Almshouse Matron
Jean Cadell
Wilfrid Brambell
Mrs Browning
Olive Sloane
George Roderick
Curley Thompson
Cliff Richard
Liliane Brousse

Terence Young