Serious Charge

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For the soundtrack EP, see Serious Charge (EP).
Serious Charge
Serious Charge FilmPoster.jpeg
Directed by Terence Young
Produced by Mickey Delamar
Written by Mickey Delamar
Guy Elmes
Starring Anthony Quayle
Sarah Churchill
Andrew Ray
Irene Browne
Music by Leighton Lewis (Score)
Lionel Bart (Songs)
Cinematography Georges Périnal
Edited by Allan Harris
Release dates
  • 1959 (1959)
Running time
107 mins
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Serious Charge (also known as A Touch of Hell) is an United Kingdom 1959 film now most notable for being Cliff Richard’s screen acting début in a very minor supporting role, playing a layabout teenage musician called Curley Thompson.

Directed by Terence Young, and written and produced by Mickey Delamar, the film was adapted from a stage play written by Philip King. One of the teenage delinquent gang members was played by another 1950s rock and roll star, the uncredited Jess Conrad in an early acting performance.


An unmarried vicar, the Reverend Howard Phillips (Anthony Quayle), newly arrived in the parish, accuses a local 19 year old thug and petty criminal, Larry Thompson (Andrew Ray) of being partly responsible for the recent death of a teenage girl (Leigh Madison), whom Thompson had impregnated and abandoned. 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, who had become infatuated with the athletic and handsome new vicar. Having earlier seen the young girl 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, 'a fury like a woman scorned',[1] refuses to contradict Thompson's false accusation. The Reverend Phillips is duly subjected to ridicule and abuse by his parishioners; his car's tyres are slashed, and he receives poison pen letters. Matters are resolved when his atheist mother (Irene Browne) arrives; with a woman's intuition, she quickly comprehends the situation, takes Hester to task, and compels her to tell the truth.[2]

The drawcard of the film was that Cliff Richard, then a teenage pop idol was to appear, the film features musical performances by Cliff Richard, mostly notably Living Doll, which became a number #1 in the British Charts, Richard plays the thug’s younger brother; Curley Thompson, he barely speaks in the film, other than to sing three songs 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.



Main article: Serious Charge(EP)


  1. ^ Congreve, William. (1697). The Mourning Bride, (play).
  2. ^ Film plot

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