Bobby Henrey in The Fallen Idol (1948)

Secrets & Lies

As the son of an Ambassador stationed in London 8 year old Phillipe (Bobby Henrey) is often left to his own devices, well under the watchful eye of butler Baines (Ralph Richardson - The Day Will Dawn) who he idolises and his strict wife the housekeeper. Like most little boys Phillipe is inquisitive and becomes aware that Baines is secretly carrying on with Julie (Michle Morgan) a secretary when he sneaks out and follows Baines to a tearoom. When Mrs Baines dies in a fall the police begin to suspect that Baines killed her but young Phillipe lies to try and protect his hero unaware that the stories of adventure in Africa which Baine's had been feeding him were all lies leading to disappointment in his hero.

Here is the truth, "The Fallen Idol" starts slowly in fact so slow that for a while I tried to work out why in heck this movie is rated so highly by many. Thankfully as I browsed opinions someone mentioned it starts slow but picks up steam and so I stuck with it. And it does pick up speed as after establishing the facts of Baines having an affair it starts to put everything in place for when the story really starts to get going with the death of Mrs. Baines. In the end the story, an adaptation of a Graham Greene story, is good it is just a shame that initially it seems to take age to get going.

Ralph Richardson in The Fallen Idol (1948)

Now whilst "The Fallen Idol" ends up being an engaging thriller I will admit I am still not as enamoured with it as many and the difference is my level of interest in style. Now I like stylish movies which don't stick to just the normal camera angles and so on but it does seem to me that those who love this movie are those impressed by the look. What I mean by that is director Carol Reed has chosen to film much of it from young Phillipe's perspective which means we have low camera angles aimed upwards when he is observing grown ups speak or when he is on the stairs spying we get distant shots of what he is observing rather than being in the middle. There is no denying that "The Fallen Idol" is a beautifully filmed movie but it almost becomes a movie for those who like to study the subject of movie making more than those who just watch to be entertained.

As for the acting well this is where my opinions differs from many as I found Bobby Henrey as Phillipe annoying, maybe accurately so with his inquisitive side but he just didn't ring true for me. On the other hand Ralph Richardson is superb as Baines bringing so many colours to his character from the slightly nervy stories which he tells young Phillipe about his adventures in Africa to the shiftiness of when meeting with Julie. It is Ralph Richardson who makes "The Fallen Idol" for those who watch in order to be entertained rather than impressed by a director's look and style.

What this all boils down to is that "The Fallen Idol" is a very good movie but one which I am sure is more appreciated by those who watch because of a fondness for director Carol Reed's style rather than those just seeking to be entertained as it does take a while to get going.