The Fallen Idol (1949)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Adapted from the Graham Greene story The Basement Room, director Carol Reed's The Fallen Idol is told almost completely from a child's eye view-but it isn't a children's story. Young Bobby Henrey idolizes household butler Ralph Richardson. Therefore, when it seems as though Richardson might be implicated in a murder, Bobby does his best to throw the police off the track. The boy succeeds only in casting even more suspicion upon Richardson. As the story progresses, Henrey's hero worship is eroded by Richardson's shifty behavior, and even more so when the boy discovers that the butler's boasts of previous heroism are just so much hot air. The ending of the film differs radically from Greene's story. While it would seem that director Reed was merely paying homage to the "happy ending" philosophy (hardly likely, given the doleful climaxes of such films as Odd Man Out and The Third Man), the director had very solid reasons for altering the story: he was more fascinated by the concept of the boy's imagination nearly sending his idol to the gallows, rather than having the butler entrapped by facts. And though the ending is happy for the boy, the butler's fate is much more nebulous. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Classics , Drama , Mystery & Suspense
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Bobby Henrey
as Felipe
Sonia Dresdel
as Mrs. Baines
Denis O'Dea
as Inspector Crowe
Walter Fitzgerald
as Dr. Fenton
Karel Stepanek
as 1st Secretary
Joan Young
as Mrs. Barrow
Dandy Nichols
as Mrs. Patterson
Bernard Lee
as Detective Hart
Jack Hawkins
as Detective Ames
Geoffrey Keen
as Detective Davis
Hay Petrie
as Clockwinder
John Ruddock
as Dr. Wilson
Dora Bryan
as Rose
Torin Thatcher
as Policeman `A'
George Woodbridge
as Police Sergeant
Gerard Heinz
as Ambassador
Nora Gordon
as Waitress
Ethel Coleridge
as Housekeeper
Ralph Norman
as Policeman
James Swan
as Policeman
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Critic Reviews for The Fallen Idol

All Critics (31) | Top Critics (15)

The Fallen Idol finds innocence and inquisitiveness at odds with corruption, violence, desire, deceit - all the stuff that grown-ups trade in.

Full Review… | June 9, 2016
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

The Fallen Idol stands as one of the great films about looking, about perspective, about the way we watch and interpret not just film plots but each other.

Full Review… | May 25, 2016
Village Voice
Top Critic

Masterful 1948 suspense thriller.

October 19, 2006
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

As a portrait of the sometime destructiveness of innocence and as a sharp fresco of post-war Britain, this movie is a little masterpiece, an idol that has never fallen.

August 25, 2006
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

It's a masterful and unsentimental child's-eye view of the cold, hard adult world.

Full Review… | June 29, 2006
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic

An indelible portrait of childhood's confusions, disillusionments and inevitable lost innocence.

June 15, 2006
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Fallen Idol

Nicely executed by Richardson and the rest of the cast. One of the best of the British thrillers.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

Lies, sometimes, are an act of kindness. Many times I hasten to add. The imagination of a lonely child is ignited by a meek man in love. The man, as played by the extraordinary Ralph Richardson, is a mass of contradictions and yet we understand him. Married to a shrew and in love with Michele Morgan no less. Carol Reed is not a director that comes immediately to mind when one lists the greatest directors of all time, but in my book, is right up there with the very best. No other director has been able to bring Graham Green to the screen with its spirit so gloriously intact. Guilt and fear as riveting entertainment. Suspenseful, funny and beautiful to look at. Go try to top that.

Cassandra Maples
Cassandra Maples

Super Reviewer

Literally about a boy who idolizes someone and finds out their not all that they thought they were. An okay movie, but not very exciting.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

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