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
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 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 test by Korda from Normandy, where he was visiting his grandmother. See more »
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 »
Good day, sir... In his office there, miss.
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Produced only a year or two before THE THIRD MAN, THE FALLEN IDOL is as good a film, and directed by the same man: Sir Carol Reed. Here we are in a claustrophobic world of an Embassy in London. The Ambassador and his wife are too busy to watch their son Phillipe (Bobby Henrey), so the boy is dropped off into the hands of the Embassy's butler Baines (Ralph Richardson). Baines' wife (Sonia Rendell) is a jealous shrew. She has reason to be jealous - Baines is having an affair with a younger woman named Julie (Michelle Morgan). Phillipe likes Baines, whom he idolizes as a strong father figure in the absence of his real father. He also likes Julie, and he dislikes Mrs. Baines. There is reason for that - in her moments of anger and jealousy she does act harshly and nastily towards Phillipe.
In pursuit of proof of her husband's infidelities, Mrs. Baines goes to incredible lengths. She even stands on a dangerous ledge to watch them. But a gust of wind causes the lower part of the window to knock her legs out from underneath her, causing her to fall two stories to her death. Enter the police (Jack Hawkins, Geoffrey Keen, Bernard Lee), who are wondering how Mrs. Baines died so violently. Baines and Julie panic, and begin trying to put together a coherent story of an accident (although they know nothing about what actually happened). They have no choice but to involve Phillipe, but this is unfortunate because the little fellow knows little about creative, consistent lying. So details of Baines' relationship with Julie come out, and the police begin to wonder that this is not an accident but murder.
The film is a gem because much of it is shot from the perspective of the boy. He has admired Baines as a honorable father figure, but he is increasingly worried for Baines and Julie and he is increasingly confused when, far from being advocates of honesty, they suggest he lie to assist them. The film does end with a degree of disillusionment for the little fellow, rather unusual for such films in general. But the disillusionment is a key to Greene's view of the world (Holly Martin's of his pal Harry Lime in THE THIRD MAN for instance, or Van Johnson's views of God and Deborah Kerr in the original THE END OF THE AFFAIR). It is a remarkably good film, and well worth watching.
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