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The Fallen Idol review

The Fallen Idol was the first collaboration between director Carol Reed and screenwriter Graham Greene, who would later combine to make the superb The Third Man. Adapted by Greene from his novella The Basement Room, it’s the suspenseful story of a lonely eight-year-old boy, Phillipe (Bobby Henrey), who’s the son of the French ambassador to London and who hero-worships the embassy’s butler Baines (Ralph Richardson). The youngster soon becomes caught up in a bewildering world of grown-up deceptions, with Reed skilfully using his monochrome compositions within the cavernous interiors of the Belgravian mansion to convey the gulf in perceptions between adults and kids. Sexual symbolism abounds, not least in the fate of Phillipe’s pet snake, and there’s an impressively understated and touching performance from Richardson.

 

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