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The Fallen Idol (The Criterion Collection) (2006)

Ralph Richardson , Michèle Morgan , Andy Kelleher , Carol Reed  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Ralph Richardson, Michèle Morgan, Sonia Dresdel, Bobby Henrey, Denis O'Dea
  • Directors: Andy Kelleher, Carol Reed
  • Writers: Graham Greene, Lesley Storm, William Templeton
  • Producers: Andy Kelleher, Carol Reed, Alexander Korda
  • Format: Black & White, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: November 7, 2006
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000HT3QBE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #83,353 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Fallen Idol (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • "A Sense of Carol Reed," a 2006 documentary, featuring interviews with director Carol Reed's friends and collaborators
  • Illustrated Reed filmography
  • Original press book
  • Booklet including new essays by Geoffrey O'Brien, David Lodge, and Nicholas Wapshott, as well as "The Basement Room," the Graham Greene short story on which the film is based

Editorial Reviews

The Fallen Idol was the first of three collaborations between director Carol Reed and writer Graham Greene, who would later team up on the legendary The Third Man, and is a small masterpiece itself. An elegant, thrilling balancing act of suspense and farce, this tale of the fraught relationship between a boy and his beloved butler, who the child eventually believes might be guilty of murder, is a visually and verbally dazzling knockout, with enough tricks up its sleeve to stand with the best of early Hitchcock.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As impeccable as its title hero March 8, 2003
Format:VHS Tape
Carol Reed was perhaps even more famous in his day for coaxing superb performances out of children than Steven Spielberg is today... and much of it is due to the astonishing performance in this marvelous film by Bobby Henrey as Phillipe, the son of the French Ambassador to the UK. Henrey delivers what must be one of the greatest child's performances ever on screen (right up there with little Victoire Thivisol in PONETTE). Phile idolizes the butler at the embassy, the sweet but very ordinary Baines (Ralph Richardson), and when his hero becomes accused of murder in the death of his wife young Phile becomes wrapped up in the police investigation. The film does a superb job switching back and forth from a child's to an adult's register--we see things both from Phile's limited child's point of view (and understand his inability to put things together given his naievete), and we also see from an adult perspective how his attempts to help his idol only make things worse and worse. The film is beautifully shot--the embassy itself is something of a marble and tile wonder--and Henrey's frantic need for attention and his jumpy manner (and endearing lisp: "He PUTHED her...") make him seem as real a small child as you can imagine.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Agonizing December 12, 2006
Format:DVD
Some reviewers think Greene's film scripts resemble Hitchcock. They don't. See my review of The Third Man. Greene's major concern in everything he wrote was the question of guilt: in other words, original sin. His concern is with right and wrong, and the machinations of the devil in man. Hitchcock is not concerned with right and wrong. He is interested in Freudian motivation, apart from wanting to give the audience a roller-coaster suspense ride. Greene is not interested in Freud in the slightest. He inserts a clinical scalpel into the convoluted morality of human behaviour, and then twists it. There is extreme tension, of course: how will the plot lines be resolved? In fact, the happy ending of this screenplay is a minor cop-out: but it would be unbearable to have Baines shoot himself. But the viewer is still left wondering what the long-term effect of these experiences will be on the totally confused and disillusioned young boy. Somehow, one feels, the cycle of muddle and deceit will be repeated in the future. This film is much, much more subtle and intellectually sophisticated than anything produced by Hitchcock. Which is why it could hardly have made a fraction of the money pulled in by Hitch.

The reviewer who said this film was shot in a mansion in Chelsea, South London, could not be more wrong. The street locations for the film were in the area of Regent's Park, where the London Zoo is still situated, well north of Oxford Street.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
This is a wonderful movie, superbly written. It has such a subtle way about the frustration of two incompatible spouses, the last-ditch attempt of one to change his life for the better, and his relationship with a young boy in his charge who understands nothing and looks up to him. Ralph Richardson is truly great in this. I love this movie for all its fine touches. I've seen it over and over. The viewer must like movies that really pay attention to how human beings behave, good and bad, and the little fictions they make up to get along in a difficult life.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
I haven't seen "The Fallen Idol" in probably twenty years. While regarded as a masterpiece, my recollections largely involved an annoying child. So with Criterion's release, I was eager to revisit this work with adult eyes. I can't honestly say that I still didn't find that child somewhat annoying--because he was. But his need for love and attention are critical to "The Fallen Idol," for it is his actions and emotional state that propel the film.

The story unfolds from the viewpoint of Phillipe, the child of a French ambassador. Left largely to his own devices within the embassy, Phillipe has formed a close bond with Mr. Baines, the family butler. He is enchanted by Mr. Baines' stories, as well as spoiled and indulged by the kind hearted man. Baines' wife plays the role of the disciplinarian, so the pair often evade her more stern ways. The film establishes all of the primary relationships effectively, and then moves into the more conventional plot as we discover Baines is having an affair with an embassy secretary.

The striking thing about "The Fallen Idol" is that the narrative is shown completely through Phillipe's eyes. We can see only as much as he is privy to. So we get bits and pieces of the adult story interwoven with the more typical aspects of being a child. Of course, what we glimpse makes more sense to us than to the 8-year-old. We see a marriage on the brink of destruction, we see a torrid affair, we see the emotional confrontations, and we see tragedy strike. And we understand what is happening--but we're not off the hook. We are linked to Phillipe, who is well meaning yet confused. As he tries to do what is right for Mr. Baines--he tells lies he shouldn't, keeps secrets he shouldn't, and then tries to tell the truth when it might be detrimental.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Idolizing A Murderer? July 1, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
Ralph Richardson stars as Baines, butler to an ambassador, who is having an affair with an embassy employee. The ambassador's young son Phillipe, played by Bobby Henrey, idolizes the butler. When his wife accidentally falls to her death following an argument with him, Richardson finds himself the only suspect in her murder. Henrey, believing Richardson to be guilty but wanting to protect him, lies to the police to help out. But lies have gotten Richardson into this mess, and more lies only make it worse. The film is quite suspenseful as it goes on, and the scene with the paper airplane is justifiably well remembered for the way it ups the tension. Richardson, as usual, is excellent, as is young Henrey and Sonia Dresdel as the shrew wife. The Fallen Idol grows on you with each passing frame and lie. It's another great film from 1940's England.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorites - little known in America
An English production, B&W mystery - sort of (you have to be there) in which we know what happens before the police who show up and misinterpret things. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Alexa Porter
5.0 out of 5 stars THE BOY/AWESOME
I SIMPLY LOVED THIS MOVIE. EVEN THOUGH THE GROWNUP ACTORS WERE SEASONED ACTORS, I SIMPLY FELL IN LOVE WITH THE CHILD STAR IN THIS MOVIE. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Evane
1.0 out of 5 stars The Fallen Idol.
Chose a VHS tape because it was more economical---$15 vs. $70,(for the DVD). Quality so poor I stopped tape 10 minutes into viewing. Return postage negates refund. Lesson learned.
Published 15 months ago by Rhonda C
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Classic
I got sucked into watching this movie by accident on tv and didn't get to see the last 25 minutes so I had to order it on Amazon since I was so curious as to what happened. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Tanya C.
1.0 out of 5 stars Fallen Idol.
Didn't want the VHS. I wanted the DVD, very disappointed especially as i couldn't send it back for a return.
It cost me in total $50
Published 17 months ago by Joan
3.0 out of 5 stars When At First We Practice To Deceive
" Oh what tangled webs we weave, when we first practice to deceive," or words to that effect are what drive this 1948 film noir based on a story by Graham Greene and directed by... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Alfred Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fallen Idol
Great movie which shows how a 10 year old boy reacts to his childhood hero when he gets in trouble. A also a great suspense thriller. Read more
Published on March 11, 2012 by Dr. Richard J. Sojka
2.0 out of 5 stars Spoiler alert
This is a decent but mostly run of the mill film. I was fairly interested in how the plot line would resolve itself but hugely disappointed in the incredibly simplistic and clumsy... Read more
Published on February 4, 2012 by Howard D. Rosen
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine, compelling film
A fine, compelling film. Escalating gradually, a remarkable tension grows, broken by flashes of humor. Read more
Published on January 12, 2012 by Michael Harbour
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth a Look, Though Hardly a Must
"FALLEN IDOL," (1948). This black and white, 95 minute British thriller is the second of the collaborations of Graham Greene, noted author/screenwriter, and director Sir Carol... Read more
Published on October 18, 2011 by Stephanie De Pue
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