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Howard Phillips, a vicar who's new in the town of Bellington, wants to reach out to youth. The previous vicar's daughter, Hester Peters, who fears being a spinster, wants to be his wife. He tells her he's not interested. When he confronts a tough kid about something the youth has done, the lad sets out to frame the vicar. Hester, who's walked in on the confrontation, backs the youth's story. The town sides with her and the lad, turning against Phillips. He has a crisis of faith. What options does he have; can no one help him, his reputation, or his calling?Written by
SERIOUS CHARGE is a social drama with a 'wrongfully accused' theme. It stars Anthony Quayle who gives an excellent performance as a crusading vicar trying to knock some sense into the local juvenile delinquents. Unfortunately he makes an enemy of a couple of people in the vicinity and when a false charge is lodged against him, the whole community immediately believes his guilt.
This is one of those films that feels ahead of its time despite being rather dated in look and feel. It's a rather genteel production at times, particularly in the depiction of the fun-loving delinquents, who do 'dangerous' things like breaking into a swimming pool at night for a swim. The one tension-filled moment with them is the stand-off with Quayle in the church. The film is also of interest for featuring a youthful Cliff Richard in his movie debut and yes, he gets to contribute a handful of songs on the soundtrack.
For the most part this is slow paced and engrossing. Quayle was always an underrated actor and doesn't put a foot wrong. I liked the way his sexuality is kept hidden from view so you never really know if he's homosexual or not, not that it really matters. Sarah Churchill is fine as the spurned and vengeful woman. There's a minor but strong role for Percy Herbert as the violent father of one of the thugs. The ending is rather predictable but the film as a whole hangs together quite nicely; it's a solid story, well told.
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