7.7/10
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The Fallen Idol (1948)

Approved | | Drama, Mystery, Thriller | 25 October 1948 (UK)
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1:24 | Trailer
A butler working in a foreign embassy in London falls under suspicion when his wife accidentally falls to her death, the only witness being an impressionable young boy.

Director:

Carol Reed

Writers:

Graham Greene (based on a short story by), Graham Greene (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ralph Richardson ... Baines
Michèle Morgan ... Julie (as Michele Morgan)
Sonia Dresdel ... Mrs. Baines
Bobby Henrey ... Phillipe
Denis O'Dea ... Inspector Crowe
Jack Hawkins ... Detective Ames
Walter Fitzgerald ... Dr. Fenton
Dandy Nichols ... Mrs. Patterson
Joan Young Joan Young ... Mrs. Barrow
Karel Stepanek ... First Secretary
Gerard Heinz ... Ambassador
Torin Thatcher ... Policeman
James Hayter ... Perry
Geoffrey Keen ... Detective Davis (as Geoffrey Keene)
Bernard Lee ... Detective Hart
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Storyline

Philippe, a diplomat's son and good friend of Baines the butler, is confused by the complexities and evasions of adult life. He tries to keep secrets but ends up telling them. He lies to protect his friends, even though he knows he should tell the truth. He resolves not to listen to adults' stories any more when Baines is suspected of murdering his wife and no-one will listen to Philippe's vital information. Written by <P.M.Laws@education.leeds.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Suspense is Almost Unbearable ... in this Four-Award Thriller !


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

25 October 1948 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

El ídolo caído See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$9,030, 12 February 2006

Gross USA:

$341,121

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$373,185
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In casting Phillipe, Carol Reed and company found the face they were looking for on the cover of a book, "A Village in Piccadilly", part of a trilogy about the lives of French refugees from Nazism who had settled in London. The author, Robert Henrey, and his wife were two such people, along with their eight-year-old son Bobby, whose picture graced the cover. London Films Production Executive Bill O'Brien contacted the Henreys to set up a screen test with Sir Ralph Richardson. Madeleine Henrey, the mother, was reluctant, fearing the experience would spoil her son, but her husband thought it might be good character-building for him. She agreed it was a possibility, but only if she could be present on-set at all times and personally supervise him. Bobby was flown in for the screen test by Executive Producer Alexander Korda from Normandy, where he was visiting his grandmother. See more »

Goofs

When Julie leaves the tea shop and closes the shop door, there is an Open / Closed sign hanging on the glass pane of the door, but when Baines and Phillipe leave the tea shop a minute or so later, the sign is no longer there. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Baines: Good day, sir... In his office there, miss.
See more »

Connections

Featured in A Sense of Carol Reed (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Fallen Idol: Minor Masterpiece
14 April 2006 | by nmarshiSee all my reviews

Just saw "The Fallen Idol" at the Nu-Art in West Los Angeles on the last day of its one week run, with a new crystal clear 35 mm print. The meaning of the title only becomes clear at the film's conclusion, so I won't say much more on that score. From a Graham Greene novella which I have never read, the author drafted the screenplay, so presumably the film remains faithful to Greene's perennial themes: loyalty and betrayal; faith and faithlessness; marriage and divorce. What makes these issues intriguing is that the film largely revolves around the point of view of an innocent, charming young boy called Phillipe, played to perfection by Bobby Henrey. He lives in the London embassy of a French speaking country, which is a sort of purgatory (always the Catholic themes with Greene) which is both in England and not subject to its laws. He is taken care of by a kind valet/ chef de maison called Baines (understatedly played by Ralph Richardson) and his Cruella De Ville of a wife (played as the personification of small-minded evil by Sonia Dresdel). Phillipe has no mother (she has been unwell and away for a long time), and no memory of her. Insteads, he has the run of his own Garden of Eden-the huge Embassy with its lovely views over London, great rooms and sweeping staircases. He even has his own snake- a pet that he hides behind a brick on the balcony and carries around in his pocket. He hero-worships Baines, who indulges him and talk to him and hates Mrs Baines who orders him around, hectors him and threatens him at every turn. The story of the film occurs over a week-end, where Phillippe and the Baines' are left alone in the Embassy as the ambassador has gone to bring back his wife from her convalescence, and revolves how Phillipe understands the love triangle between Mr Baines and Mrs Baines and the lovely Julie (played with cheek-bones high) by Michele Morgan, speaking both French and English.

Look out for some terrific performances by the main cast (especially Bobby Henrey as Phillipe), but also by a series of supporting characters : two washerwomen, a sharp tongued lady of the night, a kindly bobby, several detectives and a perceptive doctor. The photography bears mentioning. There are shades of the "Third Man", as well as a great hide and seek game in darkness under the furniture in the empty Embassy, and a truly memorable run through the empty streets of London in the dark. From a personal point of view I enjoyed several scenes shot on location at the London Zoo, which was all very familiar even from a fifty year vantage point.

The film won a British Academy award so it's not exactly undiscovered, but it's not been easy to find at revival theaters or on DVD, but it deserves to be. As I said at the top, a minor masterpiece which operates on many levels. (Los Angeles-April 2006).


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