The Fallen Idol (film)

The Fallen Idol

U.S. theatrical release poster
Directed by Carol Reed
Produced by Carol Reed
Philip Brandon (associate)
Written by William Templeton
Lesley Storm
Graham Greene
Based on "The Basement Room"
by Graham Greene
Starring Ralph Richardson
Bobby Henrey
Michèle Morgan
Denis O'Dea
Jack Hawkins
Music by William Alwyn
Cinematography Georges Périnal
Edited by Oswald Hafenrichter
Distributed by
Release dates
  • 30 September 1948 (1948-09-30)
Running time
95 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Box office £215,823 (UK)[1]

The Fallen Idol (also known as The Lost Illusion) is a 1948 film directed by Carol Reed and based on the short story "The Basement Room", by Graham Greene. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director (Carol Reed) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Graham Greene), and won the BAFTA Award for Best British Film.


The film is told through the naive eyes of a diplomat's young son, Philippe, who idolizes his father's butler, Baines. Baines has invented a heroic persona to keep the boy entertained, and often tells him stories of his exotic and daring adventures in Africa and elsewhere, stories such as putting down a native uprising single-handed, killing a man in self-defense, shooting lions and so on.

In reality, the butler has never been to Africa and is stuck in a loveless marriage, while dreaming of happiness with a younger woman (who he tells Philippe is his niece after the boy finds them together). After Baines has an argument with his betrayed wife, she accidentally falls from a landing to her death. However, Philippe believes that he has seen Baines murder her. The boy desperately and clumsily attempts to protect his hero when the police investigate, but his efforts only lead Baines deeper into trouble.



The cameras began turning on the film on the bright, sunny morning of Wednesday, 17 September 1947, with the first location scene to be filmed being that of Bobby Henrey running across Belgrave Square in London.

The Fallen Idol marks the first notable film Carol Reed made at Grosvenor Crescent, Belgrave Square, in London as a filming location — the other being Reed's acclaimed movie Oliver!, filmed 20 years later at the same site. Ironically it was a film featuring a similar seven-year-old precocious boy.


The film was one of the most popular movies at the British box office in 1948.[2]

The Fallen Idol was included at number 48 on Time Out magazine's list of the "100 best British films", which polled critics and members of the film industry. It was described as "one of the finest British films about children, about the ways they can be manipulated and betrayed, their loyalties misplaced and their emotions toyed with."[3]



  1. Vincent Porter, 'The Robert Clark Account', Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol 20 No 4, 2000 p486
  2. "THE STARRY WAY.". The Courier-Mail. Brisbane: National Library of Australia. 8 January 1949. p. 2. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
  3. "100 Best British Films (numbers 41-50)". Time Out. Retrieved 26 January 2014.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/22/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.