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The Fallen Idol (1948)

Not Rated | | Drama, Film-Noir, Mystery | 25 October 1948 (UK)
1:23 | Trailer

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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.



(story "The Basement Room"), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sonia Dresdel ...
Denis O'Dea ...
Walter Fitzgerald ...
Dandy Nichols ...
Joan Young ...
Karel Stepanek ...
First Secretary
Geoffrey Keen ...
Detective Davis (as Geoffrey Keene)


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


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

25 October 1948 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

El ídolo caído  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$9,030 (USA) (10 February 2006)


$56,416 (USA) (14 October 2016)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Carol Reed worked closely with his sound crew to pay particular attention to what was heard on screen. They were able to keep closely to the boy's point of view by muffling some of what the adults said, as if barely overheard (hence, misinterpreted) by the child. 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 »


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


Referenced in Gerald McBoing-Boing (1950) See more »

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User Reviews

Oh what a tangled web we weave...
7 January 2009 | by (Greensboro, NC) – See all my reviews

I'm amazed at the time of writing this, there are only 33 comments and 1700 votes. How is it that more people haven't seen this movie.

Another classic pairing of Directot Carol Reed with Writer Graham Greene - who would later go on to even more success with their collaboration in "The Third Man". While I wouldn't rate this movie quite as high as TTM, it is very good film in its own right.

This is a tale as seen from a child's eyes in a very grown-up world with very adult issues. This is captured superbly in the cinematography that uses low angles at child height and looking up. This is also a story of secrets and lies - and so the camera is very effective in changing shots and angles to always give them impression that others are spying or eavesdropping. This is also conveyed very effectively with the set - which is filmed substantially withing the Embassy residence which is a huge, lavish mansion. It has many levels and staircases - none so impressive as the ornate, curving main staircase. The camera also makes good use of close-ups and wide angle shots. Often times, movies with stick with one or the other. I think it helped keep it interesting.

The characters were all well cast. I especially liked Ralph Richardson as the butler whom the boy, Phillipe (Bobby Henry), idolizes. Richardson has just the right balance of decorum and warmth to make you understand why the boy, who is starved for attention, follows after him. He has a very smooth speaking voice that is pleasant to listen to. He reminds me a lot of Kevin Spacey in his appearance and demeanor (especially in "Pay it Forward"). I think the director did a great job of eliciting a good performance out of the then 8 year old Henry. I heard that the director's secret was not to have the child respond to an actors lines - but to que the child himself in a different take. I think the precociousness and spontaneity of the child were captured quite well with this.

There are quite a few memorable scenes - hide and seek in the dark, cavernous mansion; the boy running through the dark London streets with all the alleys, archways, wet streets and glowing lanterns; the paper airplane flying from the upper balcony and circling all the way down, slowly, to land at a detectives feet; the detective questioning Baines at the top of the stairs, all the while the tilted window is visible in the background. The music changes pace with the story, and at times it was frantic and frenetic to match the suspense and fear of the story. I felt it was used quite effectively.

The story addresses themes of loneliness, betrayal, secrecy, lies, and loss of innocence in a plot that kept my interest from beginning to end. My only complaint is that at times the dialogue was difficult to understand with the clip, British accents. I wish this had been offered in closed captions so I could catch some missed conversations.

16 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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I get to meet Bobby Henrey in person! DavidW1947
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