The Fallen Idol

The Fallen Idol

United Kingdom, 1948, 95 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Archival, Film Noir, Foreign
Language: English

Archival 35mm presentation - With father the ambassador and mother both away, eight-year-old Phil’s only companions for the weekend in his cavernous London embassy residence will be his beloved pet snake; his idol, Baines the butler (Ralph Richardson); and his dreaded nemesis, the snake-hating housekeeper, Mrs. Baines. And when Phil trails Baines to a tea room tryst with embassy staffer Julie (Michèle Morgan) — Baines claims she’s his “niece” — he becomes the solemn bearer of a Secret. But when an idyllic afternoon at the zoo is topped by a nighttime tragedy, and those soft-spoken police arrive to ask all those polite questions, Phil enters a world of lies that unintentionally implicate his idol in murder.
Written by Graham Greene from his short story “The Basement Room” (it was the writer’s personal favorite of all his adaptations), THE FALLEN IDOL marked Greene’s first collaboration with director Reed. Pivotal to the screen adaptation was the casting: Ralph Richardson, in an award-winning role, evokes affection, anguish, guilt and fear without ever ’s sultry lover in Marcel Carné’s Port of Shadows) brought glamour and vulnerability to the role of Julie; while the French-born, London-reared Henrey perfectly conveys the earnest, compulsively chatty, attention-demanding behavior of a typical child. The impeccable casting extends to even the smallest parts, from detectives Jack Hawkins (later Brit superstar and Lawrence of Arabia’s General Allenby) and Bernard Lee (James Bond’s original “M” and Third Man sewer bullet-recipient) to famed comedienne Dora Bryan as the tart who can’t comfort Phil without resorting to her usual come-ons.

DIRECTOR: Carol Reed
Screenwriter: Graham Greene
US Distributor: Rialto Pictures

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