The Fallen Idol (1948)

The Fallen Idol (1948), directed by Carol Reed.

Carol Reed was on fire in the late 1940s. Between Odd Man Out (1947) and The Third Man (1949) he made this smaller, more intimate suspense film in an unusual domestic setting.

Young Philippe lives in the French (?) embassy in London. His mother has been away for months and his father the ambassador isn't around much. The boy adores butler Ralph Richardson who is always funny and friendly and has a big supply of tall tale adventures from his supposed travels in exotic lands.

The butler's sorrow is his wife, the housekeeper, who is a shrew. That and he's fallen in love with a young woman who is one of the embassy clerks, now planning on leaving him and going back home.

Philippe sees many things without understanding them. When the housekeeper dies in a fall, he mistakenly believes his hero has murdered her. He'll say anything to protect him but his lies inadvertently draw the noose tighter...


Music by William Alwyn: Odd Man Out (1947), A Night to Remember (1958).

Photographed by Georges Périnal: Things to Come (1936), The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), No Highway in the Sky (1951), Bonjour Tristesse (1958).

Guy Hamilton is credited as assistant director, later a director in his own right, including four Bond films. "Carol Reed was the biggest influence on me and on everything that I did"

My thumbnails are from a region B Blu-ray from Studio Canal/BFI. No sign of a North American Blu-ray and the Criterion DVD is out of print.