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, an ambassador's son and good friend of Baines, major domo of the embassy, 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. Confusion reigns when Baines is suspected of murdering his wife and Philippe flips back and forth with the police. Written by <P.M.Laws@education.leeds.ac.uk>

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


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Did You Know?


For continuity's sake over the course of a long shoot, Producer and Director Carol Reed restricted Bobby Henrey's access to the cake trolley during tea breaks on-set so he wouldn't gain weight. Continuity was also the issue in Reed's only disagreement with Madeleine Henrey. A scene with Bobby running up the stairs was left half-completed at the end of the week's shooting on a Friday evening. Over the weekend, Madeleine decided the boy needed a haircut, and when he returned to the set on Monday, it was impossible to match the remaining shots they needed to the ones taken a few days before. The Make-up Department tried attaching hair pieces to him, but it didn't look right. Reed was furious and had no choice but to rearrange the shooting schedule to complete the stair scene after Bobby's hair grew out. "It's the most expensive haircut in the world!" Reed groused. "Thousands of pounds! That's what it will cost!" The incident was the only delay in an otherwise smooth shoot, which ended up completing on schedule. 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.
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References Nick Carter, Master Detective (1939) See more »

User Reviews

Sir Carol Reed, neglected genius
11 February 2009 | by ilprofessore-1See all my reviews

When the great directors of film are named these days, the incomparable Carol Reed is rarely mentioned. He has been completely surpassed in the public esteem by his British contemporary David Lean. After the success of Reed's English films, a period which began in 1940 with the coal-mining film "The Stars Look Down" and ended with "The Outcast of the Islands" in 1954, the director was discovered by the big Hollywood studios; he went on to direct a number of big-budgeted Technicolor international productions –-"Olivier," "The Agony and the Ecstasy," and "Trapeze"—all of which he handled with consummate professionalism, but somehow their box-office success unfairly diminished his reputation with the critics. He is perhaps best remembered today for "The Third Man," which many people erroneously think Orson Welles directed. Although Reed's early films were shot in London films studios and on location all around the word, they remain quintessentially British in understated mood and attack --B&W films made in collaboration with the best expatriate talent that had gathered in London during the war years. ("The Fallen Idol" is photographed by the French cinematographer Perinal, the Jugoslavian editor Hafenrichter, and the Hungarian set designer Vincent Korda.) Reed at his best has the unique ability to portray the most complex of human relationships with voices lowered; witness how masterfully he directs the detectives and suspects in the final reels of this superb film.

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English | French

Release Date:

25 October 1948 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

The Fallen Idol See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$9,030, 12 February 2006

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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