The Fallen Idol
The Criterion Collection
Fallen Idol, The
The wait is over for the second film in the trifecta that includes Odd Man Out
and The Third Man
. The Fallen Idol
has long been considered the pinnacle of British director Carol Reed's largely unsung career. In this icy but humane postwar thriller, the gullible child of a French diplomat (Bobby Henrey) becomes accidentally complicit in a love triangle involving his lenient butler and titular idol, Baines (Ralph Richardson), Baines' Nurse Ratched-ish wife (Sonia Dresdel) and his sweet mistress (Michèle Morgan). The boy is suddenly thrust into the adult world of lies, deception and hypocrisy on all sides, and after a shocking potential murder, his unfettered commitment to his butler puts his own formative morality at stake. Reed shows a Hitchcockian ability for focusing on minute objects ' a candle, a hairpin, a paper airplane ' and ascribing them profound gravitas. An interesting but too-brief supplemental documentary, A Sense of Carol Reed
, features friends and influences reflecting on Reed's career and eccentricities, and three essays illuminate distinct areas of the film's production and historical importance.