Combustible Celluloid
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With: Ralph Richardson, Michèle Morgan, Sonia Dresdel, Bobby Henrey, Denis O'Dea, Jack Hawkins, Walter Fitzgerald, Dandy Nichols, Joan Young
Written by: Graham Greene, Lesley Storm, William Templeton
Directed by: Carol Reed
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 95
Date: 09/30/1948

The Fallen Idol (1948)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Stair Case

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Frankly, I can think of many other movies that I'd rather see restored and revived, but even Carol Reed's The Fallen Idol (1948) is far more entertaining than most new movies. Opening theatrically this week in a new print, this film came right before Reed's celebrated The Third Man and was similarly based on a Graham Greene screenplay. A London diplomat's young son, Phil (Bobby Henrey), forms a close friendship with his butler (Ralph Richardson). The butler is married to the stern head maid (Sonia Dresdel), who makes Phil's life a living hell (she even incinerates his pet snake). Of course, there's a mistress, an unexpected death and a false accusation. Though Reed lost his critical standing as his films grew bigger and more lifeless, The Fallen Idol has a good dose of Hitchcockian spice, with its patient set-up, tense details and slanted angles (how many ways does Reed photograph that great, twisty, stone staircase?).

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