The Fallen Idol (1948)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Mystery, Thriller  |  25 October 1948 (UK)
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 5,146 users   Metascore: 88/100
Reviews: 58 user | 52 critic | 12 from

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), (screenplay), 2 more credits »
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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
Gerard Heinz ...
Torin Thatcher ...
James Hayter ...
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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Release Date:

25 October 1948 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

El ídolo caído  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

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


$141,502 (USA) (20 October 2006)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The key to getting a performance from Bobby Henrey was the remarkable relationship between the young actor and his director. Carol Reed welcomed the challenge, knowing that if he worked well with Bobby he would get something not always easily achieved with an adult actor, the sense of uninhibited connection with a role, without any self-consciousness. "But with the right sort of child such as Bobby, there is nothing in the way," Reed said. "There is absolutely no resistance. He will do everything you tell him." 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 »


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

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User Reviews

"No, we have to tell lies, and more lies."
29 October 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

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.

40 of 47 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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I get to meet Bobby Henrey in person! DavidW1947
I didn't care for Phillipe. Okada_Toru
Favourite line? emmas_place2003
that kid ncblue66
Interesting shots of London Zoo in the forties clive-ihd
Mrs. Baines was a real bitch. richsass
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