The Fallen Idol (1948)

CAROL REED

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

United Kingdom, 1948.  London Film Productions.  Screenplay by , additional dialogue by , , based on the story The Basement Room by Graham Greene.  Cinematography by . Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by , .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by . Academy Awards 1949.  Golden Globe Awards 1949.  

Carol Reed directed three screenplays by Graham Greene, the first being this devastasting classic followed by the masterpiece The Third Man and ending with Our Man In Havana. While not as tricky or exciting as the Orson Welles thriller, The Fallen Idol is a brilliant character piece with much to recommend it.  is excellent as the son of the French ambassador living in London, who absolutely idolizes his butler Baines (Ralph Richardson) while avoiding the mean, heardhearted housekeeper Mrs. Baines ().  When Mrs. Baines falls in a fatal accident down the house’s giant staircase, the boy immediately suspects his dear friend of murder but tells lies to the police to help him out all the same. He’s also been asked by Baines to help keep his mistress Julie () as much out of the story as possible. Fascinating character study that features a slow momentum of suspense that grows to a boil by the fantastic climax, this is sort of like Henry James’s What Maisie Knew involving murder instead of divorce. Delightful and intense, and Richardson is marvelous.

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