Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Its a serious charge boys

Some more deliciously old-fashioned British movies from the late Fifties and early Sixties, time capsules to a vanished world now: SERIOUS CHARGE, 1959; THE BOYS, 1962.

The blurb says: Cliff Richard makes his sensational debut in SERIOUS CHARGE, and sings 3 songs including his first UK Number One smash hit “Living Doll”.
Directed by Terence Young, SERIOUS CHARGE sees Cliff (in a small role) playing teddyboy Curley Thompson, a young tearaway in a small English town, looking for kicks. Everyone thinks he is bad – except local vicar Revered Philips (Anthony Quayle) who sees the good in Curley and stands up for him in court. Unfortunately Curley’s older brother Larry (Andrew Ray) is an out-and-out hoodlum, with a switchblade in his hand, and nothing but contempt for his hometown of “DeadsvilleEngland”.
When Reverend Phillips first humiliates him in the local young club and then confronts him about his pregnant girlfriend, Larry snaps and accuses of Reverend of sexual assault – a serious charge that seems to have been witnessed by respected church-worker Hester (Sarah Churchill). Suddenly the vicar finds himself on the receiving end of a bitter hate campaign ….  

Hester is the spinster daughter of the previous vicar and has designs on Reverend Quayle and sees herself as the vicar's wife. His wise pragmatic mother sees how dangerous this could be and so it proves when Hester sides with the town's bullies and bigots against the beleagured vicar. Will he prove his innocence and turn the tables on his tormentors? Terence Young makes the most of this drama - he would soon go on to those first two James Bonds, and of course directed treats like ZARAK
We are left with the idea that the vicar and Hester may have a future - but perhaps there is a doubt over his sexuality - but if so surely the sulky pouting Curley (Cliff) would be a better bet than the nasty Larry ... Regular familiar faces here include Wilfrid Brambell, Judith Furse, Jean Cadell and again (see below) pop singer Jess Conrad. The surprise is that the young David Hemmings is not among the gang, as he was doing so many small parts then. He is in 1962's SOME PEOPLE, which would be a good companion piece to SERIOUS CHARGE  as both deal with bored wayward teenagers and well-meaning vicars with their church halls. Cliff (or Sir Cliff as he is now is still touring at 75, after surviving some serious charges of his own) had another good role that year in that 1959 treat EXPRESSO BONGO.

Canadian Sidney J Furie had an interesting career, directing dramas like this and THE LEATHER BOYS in England, and that interesting first feature DURING ONE NIGHT in 1961, before moving onto spy fare and hits like THE IPCRESS FILE and LADY SINGS THE BLUES, and films with Brando and Sinatra, and is still directing now, 

THE BOYS begins well as we see a court case unfold with the four boys in the dock, accused of murder after the robbery of a garage goes wrong. Richard Todd and Robert Morley are the opposing barristers and Felix Aylmer the judge. The boys are Dudley Sutton, pop singer natty Jess Conrad, Ronald Lacey and Tony Garnett (soon to go on to producing films like KES).
The supporting cast is an endless parade of familiar faces: Patrick Magee, Roy Kinnear, Wilfrid Brambell (a lavatory attendant), Allan Cuthbertson, David Lodge, Rita Webb, Betty Marsden, Colin Gordon, Kenneth J Warren, barmaid Mavis Villiers (she was on the other side of the bar in VICTIM) and young Carol White, and music by The Shadows to boot. Tedium sets in eventually as we see the boys' night out from each point of view, taking in their dismal homelife with parents in that grungy block of flats and their night out 'up west' without much money. Finally we arrive at the truth .... its an interesting time capsule of that early black and white Sixties era, before the arrival of The Beatles and the explosion into sixties pop culture. 
More B-movie British thrills: Anthony Quayle, one of the UK's busiest stage and screen actors (THE WRONG MAN, WOMAN IN A DRESSING GOWN, ICE COLD IN ALEX, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE, OPERATION CROSSBOW) also leads THE CHALLENGE, a nice little B-movie British thriller with Jayne Mansfield in 1960 and is sadistically evil in TARZAN'S GREATEST ADVENTURE in 1959. Peter Sellers is the nasty villain in 1960's NEVER LET GO where he terrorises car salesman Richard Todd; another pop star of the time Adam Faith pops up here, along with Carol White again. 


  1. I've got SERIOUS CHARGE on dvd but have yet to watch it. THE BOYS isn't bad but it's no classic either. I never thought Sidney J Furie was much of a director and am not a fan of THE LEATHER BOYS either. THE CHALLENGE sounds like fun, though. I hope to see it this week on Talking Pictures. As usual, I have to say your reviews are very nicely written.

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