The Fallen Idol DVD
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Directed by Carol Reed
Produced in 1948
Main Language - ENGLISH
Countries & Regions - British Film
Reed’s classic about a child's first glimpse into adult hypocrisy, The Fallen Idol was the first collaboration between the director and Graham Greene, who would go on to work together on The Third Man and Our Man In Havana. Reed was nominated for a Best Director Oscar, and Greene for Best Screenplay, for their work on The Fallen Idol, which demonstrates the unique spark that these two mavericks brought to British cinema. Based on the Greene story The Basement Room, the film is told entirely from the perspective of a young boy, Phillipe, (Bobby Henrey) who is the son of an Ambassador. Phillipe idolizes his butler Baines (Ralph Richardson) whom he discovers is having an affair with the Embassy typist (Michèle Morgan). Murder is a new ingredient introduced into this equation.
Barry Forshaw on 16th September 2005
Author of 564 reviews
The first collaboration between Carol Reed and Graham Greene, this is a suspenseful British thriller about a child's first glimpse into adult hypocrisy. A lonely young boy in a foreign embassy wrongly believes the man he idolises - the butler Baines, is guilty of murder and sets out to influence a police investigation into a woman's death. His elaborate web of lies only makes the police more suspicious and serves to implicate Baines further as a suspect.
Publisher: Optimum Releasing
Length: 91 mins
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Cat No: OPTD0118
Format: DVD B&W
by Julian Upton on 3rd October 2005
This is a film haunted by empty spaces, looming interiors and imposing masonry. Its setting is the near-deserted house of the French Ambassador to Britain, a palatial ... Read on
This is a film haunted by empty spaces, looming interiors and imposing masonry. Its setting is the near-deserted house of the French Ambassador to Britain, a palatial London address that's been closed down for the holidays. Furniture is covered in dustsheets, most of the staff have been dismissed, and a stately silence fills the vast, well-appointed rooms. Only the ambassador's son, 8 year-old Philippe (Bobby Henrey), butler Baines (Ralph Richardson) and his embittered housekeeper wife occupy this opulent shell. Philippe is in awe of the enigmatic Baines, a strong but gently humble figure, but Baines isn't quite the great man Philippe believes he is.
As Philippe sees his hero's behaviour become more confusing, The Fallen Idol's expressionist, almost grotesque visuals come into focus: this is a child's eye view of the big, bad world, a child who is constantly dwarfed by angry or apathetic adults and lost in the shadows of oppressive rooms and streets. Reed's characteristically obscure camera angles have never seemed so justified: through Philippe, we catch stolen moments of the butler's life from behind balustrades and pillars, from window ledges and balconies. Though we can work out what Baines is up to, Philippe is understandably ignorant. When the plot turns to suspected murder, the boy's grasp of the games adults play is in danger of being unwittingly destructive.
Richardson gives a masterclass in noble yet flawed restraint and the young Henrey delivers a remarkably honest performance of hapless confusion, but the film really belongs to production designer Vincent Korda, cinematographer Georges Perinal and Reed. Rarely has a film outside the horror genre manipulated its sets to quite such a powerful effect. Hide
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