|Directed by||Terence Young|
|Produced by||Mickey Delamar|
|Written by||Mickey Delamar
|Music by||Leighton Lucas (Score)
Lionel Bart (Songs)
|Edited by||Allan Harris|
Serious Charge (also known as A Touch of Hell) is a 1959 British film directed by Terence Young, and written and produced by Mickey Delamar. Adapted from a stage play written by Philip King, the film is now most notable for being Cliff Richard’s screen acting début in a minor supporting role.
An unmarried vicar, the Reverend Howard Phillips (Anthony Quayle), newly arrived in the parish, attempts to get 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. When Howard threatens to tell his coffee-bar friends, Larry trashes the room and fakes a struggle. As a dishevelled Larry leaves, Hester Peters (Sarah Churchill) arrives, and he tells her that Howard "interfered" with him. Hester is the daughter of the parish’s previous clergyman and has become infatuated with the athletic and handsome new vicar. However, having earlier seen a young girl leaving the vicarage late one night (Mary, who 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', chooses to believe Larry's account. Shortly afterwards, Mary chances across Larry kissing another girl, and blindly flees across the road into the path of a car and is killed.
As a consequence of the malicious accusation, Howard is subjected to ridicule and abuse by his parishioners; his car's tyres are slashed and he receives poison pen letters. When his mother (Irene Browne) learns of events, knowing about Hester's romantic interest in Howard, she quickly comprehends the situation, takes Hester to task and persuades her to accept Howard's account. Larry duly receives his come-uppance at the hands of his father.
The film includes a cameo role by Cliff Richard, then a teenage pop idol, as Larry Thompson's younger brother, Curley. Richard sings three songs, although none is heard in its entirety: No Turning Back, Mad, and Living Doll - the last is a different version from that which became a number #1 in the British charts. A fellow delinquent was played by another 1950s rock and roll star, the uncredited Jess Conrad in an early acting performance. There are fleeting images of female nudity in the scenes of the young people in the lido, very unusual for British films of that era.
- Anthony Quayle as Reverend Howard Phillips
- Sarah Churchill as Hester Peters
- Andrew Ray as Larry Thompson
- Irene Browne as Mrs. Phillips
- Percy Herbert as Mr. Thompson
- Noel Howlett as Reverend Peters
- Wensley Pithey as Police Sergeant
- Leigh Madison as Mary Williams
- Judith Furse as Probation Officer
- Jean Cadell as Almshouse Matron
- Wilfrid Brambell as Verger
- Olive Sloane as Mrs. Browning
- George Roderick as Fishmonger
- Cliff Richard as Curley Thompson
- Liliane Brousse as Michelle
- Wilfred Pickles as Chairman of the court [uncredited]
- Congreve, William. (1697). The Mourning Bride, (play)
- Film plot