71 user 66 critic

The Fallen Idol (1948)

Approved | | Drama, Mystery, Thriller | 25 October 1948 (UK)
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.


Carol Reed


Graham Greene (based on a short story by), Graham Greene (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »





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


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


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


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Bobby Henrey received one thousand pounds sterling for his part, with the stipulation that if it were not completed in ten weeks, he would get an additional one hundred pounds sterling per week. 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 »

User Reviews

Intriguing and suspenseful movie about a butler working in a foreign embassy in London falls under suspicion , masterfully played by Ralph Richardson
3 May 2019 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

This one deals with a murder at a foreign embassy in London as the butler's (Ralph Richardson) wife , Mrs. Baines (Sonia Dresdel) shows up killed . As a young boy ,the engaging Anglo-French Phillipe (Bobby Henrey ) believes that thr honorable servant he admires is guilty of murdering his spouse . Unwittingly , the lonely little boy , Ambassador's son , influences the police investigation run by two Inspectors (Denis O'Dea, Jack Hawkins) so that the butler becomes the prime suspect . The child attempts to protect the person he admires, his working lower class hero , but things go wrong when apppear more and more clues against him . Furthermore , the butler has a hidden lover , Julie (Michèle Morgan) .The Suspense is Almost Unbearable ... in this Four-Award Thriller !

An intelligent and powerful effort by Carol Reed and a decent example of the respectable quality of the British cinema which achieved splendor and apotheosis in late 40s . Carefully crafted film with notable interpretations , plenty of thrills , intrigue , twists and turns . Director Reed carries out a restrained , tasteful making , as he explores admirabily a controlled environment , upper and lower classes , he has a special ability to elicit remarkable acting from his actors and a nice skill for delving psychological depths without sacrifice narrative coherence . And providing a sophisticated analysis of the intersection between realities of children and adults . Interesting and thrilling script based on a short story titled ¨The basement room¨ by Grahame Greene and adapted by himself . Ralph Richardson is perfect as the upright and accused servant , he gives a magnetic and sympathetic acting . And the child responds masterfully to the particular demands of the director ; in addition , Michele Morgan delivers an enjoyable portrait as the gullible lover . And remaining support cast is frankly excellent , such as : Sonia Dresdel , Denis O'Dea, Jack Hawkins , Walter Fitzgerald , Torin Thatcher, James Hayter , Geoffrey Keen Bernard Lee , James Hayter , among others .

The motion picture was compellingly directed by Carol Reed , being one of his most engrossing films showing understanding of character and realized in the middle of his best period . Reed once considered to the greatest British director , had his clay feet , mercilessly exposed by the auteurist critics of the 60s . Now stripped fo his old and inflated reputation it is posible to appreciate better his virtues . Reed worked for important producers as Alexander Korda and J. Arthur Rank . For Reed, who would wisely decide to start producing his own films in order to have more control over them, finding his niche was still a challenge into the 1940s. He was only too well aware that the film director led a team effort--his was partly a coordinator's task, harmonizing the talents of the creative team. The modest Reed would admit to his success being this partnership time and again. So he gravitated toward the same scriptwriters, art directors and cinematographers as his movie list spread out.There were more thrillers and some historical bios: Kipps (1941) with Michael Redgrave and The Young Mr Pitt (1942) with Robert Donat. He did service and war effort fare through World War II, but these were more than flag wavers, for Reed dealt with the psychology of transitioning to military life. His Anglo-American documentary of combat (co-directed by Garson Kanin), The True Glory (1945), won the 1946 Oscar for Best Documentary. With that under his belt, Reed was now recognized as Britain's ablest director and could pick and choose his projects. He also had the clout--and the all-important funds--to do what he thought was essential to ensure realism on a location shoot, something missing in British film work prior to Reed. Odd man out (1947) with James Mason as an IRA hit man on the run did just that and was Reed's first real independent effort, and he had gone to Rank to do it . And , of course , his greatest hit ¨The third man¨with Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten . Rating : 7.5/10 . Well worth seeing . Better than average .

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English | French

Release Date:

25 October 1948 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

El ídolo caído See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$9,030, 12 February 2006

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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