Given it’s Noirvember, now seems the perfect time to rediscover one of cinema’s almost forgotten film noir classic. Directed by Carol Reed and adapted from his own book by Graham Greene (both were nominated for Academy Awards for their troubles), The Fallen Idol is an impressive yet simple film. The pair most famously collaborated together on The Third Man, and whilst The Fallen Idol doesn’t reach those heights, it’s a cleverly made and well acted drama.
Left to his own devices by his parents, a young diplomat’s son, Philip (Bobby Henrey), becomes obsessed with the family’s butler Baines (Ralph Richardson). Whilst he tells Philip about his daring adventures, his wife (Sonia Dresdel), the housekeeper and a strict disciplinarian, scares the young child. The pair are in a loveless marriage and Baines is looking to find happiness with a younger woman (Michèle Morgan). During an argument, his wife accidentally falls down the stairs to her death. When the police arrive, Philip desperately tries to defend Baines but he just keeps on inadvertently landing him in more trouble.
On the face of it The Fallen Idol is a fairly simple premise centred around one location. However, the subtleties and intricacies of the script make it as much a thriller as a drama. It’s beautifully filmed with all angles of the house used to great effect. It’s a beautiful restoration. Ralph Richardson and Michèle Morgan are both impressive whilst Bobby Henrey just about pulls it off. The Fallen Idol harks back to a day when a taught script and good acting were enough to keep an audience gripped.
The restored DVD and Blu-ray of The Fallen Idol is released by Studiocanal today.