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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
An unmarried vicar in a new parish (Quayle) accuses a local 19 year old of being partially responsible for the death of a teenage girl. In defiance, the young man claims the vicar molested him. Out of spite, his story is backed up by a local woman (Churchill) still furious that the vicar rejected her advances. Unfortunately for the vicar, the woman is a highly respected member of the community - her father is the previous clergyman.
Given that this film was released in 1959, its subject matter is pretty ground-breaking, especially for a British film. Yes, the depiction of disaffected youth hanging around coffee bars, breaking into swimming pools and grooving to Cliff Richard's Livin' Doll is a little clumsy (Richard is asked to do little in a secondary role other than sulk or croon), but in an era when folks weren't supposed to know about homosexuality (at least in the movies), this is quite a daring story, and occasionally quite subversive. We the audience are ever so slightly encouraged to wonder about Quayle's sexuality as he spurns the advances of a good churchy woman, seems oblivious to his sexy young French maid (!) and looks up to his strident mother (a wonderfully knowing performance by Irene Browne). Judith Furse's probation officer is also deliciously ambiguous...
So quite a grown up film then - a shame that these days it's probably only known for being Cliff's debut film.
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