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?


Michèle Morgan was Producer and Director Carol Reed's only choice for the role of Julie. Executive Producer Alexander Korda offered her the job on one of his trips to Hollywood, where she had been living and working during the war. 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

It's a great life if you don't weaken.
29 April 2011 | by hitchcockthelegendSee all my reviews

The Fallen Idol (AKA: The Lost Illusion) is directed by Carol Reed and adapted to a screenplay by Graham Green from his own short story called The Basement Room. Additional dialogue was scripted by Lesley Storm and William Templeton, the music is by William Alwyn and Georges Périnal is the cinematographer. It stars Ralph Richardson, Bobby Henrey, Michèle Morgan, Sonia Dresdel and Denis O'Dea.

Film is told thru the eyes of Phillipe (Henrey), the young son of a diplomat living at the French Embassy in London. With his parents often away from home, Phillipe has latched onto the family butler, Baines (Richardson), for friendship and guidance. Baines regales the boy with fanciful tales of adventure, but in truth Baines himself is unhappy, stuck in a loveless marriage to the shrewish Mrs. Baines (Dresdel). When Bobby happens upon Baines in the company of a young woman named Julie (Morgan), it thrusts the youngster into a world he doesn't understand, and when a tragedy occurs, Bobby is in danger of shattering the friendship between Baines and himself.

The first of Graham Greene's literary works to be directed by the great Carol Reed, The Fallen Idol took some time to come out of The Third Man's shadow and be heralded in its own right. What transpires over 95 minutes is a tight psychological thriller that leaves a lasting image of childhood confusion, disillusionment and the innocence that's lost. Throw into the mix adult secrets, human conundrums and a gripping mystery investigation at its peak, and it's not hard to see why it's such a well revered picture. It's also a film that thrives on dialogue, again not surprising given that Green himself always said it was the best film adaptation of his work, while some of the deep-focus photography from Périnal adds real atmosphere to the proceedings.

Richardson is superb, and he leads a hugely effective cast, where Dresdel is scarily witch like and Henrey, plucked from nowhere to star as the naive boy, paints an indelible portrait of a child struggling to comprehend the mysterious world of the adults around him. In support there is quality thespians such as Bernard Lee and Jack Hawkins. The ending is notably different to that in the original story, and no doubt about it, the original ending would have garnered a different reaction from many. But Greene was happy to change his own source for the screen, so if it's good enough for him then it surely is good enough for us? Certainly time has been kind to The Fallen Idol, it's Hitchcockian feel blended with literary smarts has made it a lasting favourite of critics and fans alike. 8.5/10

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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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