7.8/10
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The Fallen Idol (1948)

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

Director:

Carol Reed

Writers:

Graham Greene (based on a short story by), Graham Greene (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

25 October 1948 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

El ídolo caído See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$9,030, 12 February 2006, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$341,121
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Because Bobby Henrey was not used to working with other actors, Carol Reed had to shoot him primarily in reaction shots. He also had to keep his dialogue down to small bits, so the movie was planned to be very cut heavy. In its one hour and thirty-five minute running time, there are more than one thousand edits. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

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

Connections

Referenced in L.A. Noire (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

Low-Key Classic
14 July 2013 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

Was there ever a more civilized treatment of infidelity than this British suspenser. Ralph Richardson's butler Baines is the very last word in polished civility and stiff upper lip no matter how extreme the provocation. Yet he's so unfailingly kind and considerate to the boy Phillipe that he's among the most admirable of transgressors. The bond between the lonely son of the French ambassador and the hen-pecked English butler is memorably touching and the emotional heart of the film.

Director Carol Reed has basically a single set to work with. But it's a great one with the sweeping staircase, high domed ceiling, and checkerboard tiles, all keeping the eye entertained at the same time the sinister events unfold. Those events are driven by poor Sonia Dresdel who has the thankless role of the cruel wife and housekeeper Mrs. Baines that she plays to the hilt. You just know from the start that Phillipe's pet garter snake, MacGregor, is doomed in her bleak household. In fact, the screenplay has loaded the deck by making her such an unsympathetic figure. Who can blame Baines for his covert rendezvous with the lovely Julie (Michelle Morgan) when his shrewish wife remains in the empty embassy waiting to pounce.

What really distinguishes the movie is its skill at viewing adult actions through the eyes of the child. Thus, instead of a conventional two-shot close-up of Baines and Julie in intimate conversation, Reed gives us a three-shot from the perspective of Phillipe as he watches them. We may know what's up with them, but we also share the boy's puzzlement over a world he has yet to grow into. We share that perspective throughout, which is not only an unusual one, but visually reinforces the touching bond between the child of the elite and the highly polished commoner. It also turns the emotional climax (not the dramatic) into a memorably revealing one-- a rite of passage, as it were.

Anyway, in my little book, the movie qualifies as a genuine classic, placing Carol Reed in the same Pantheon as contemporary British masters Hitchcock and Michael Powell. Once you see it, you don't forget it.


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