The Fallen Idol (1948) | Carol Reed’s child’s eye view thriller belongs alongside his greatest masterpieces
Now restored to its former glory, and out on DVD and Blu-ray from StudioCanal comes 1948’s The Fallen Idol. This gripping thriller was the first collaboration between British director Carol Reed and novelist Graham Greene who, following the success of this film, would go on to work together on the celebrated classics, The Third Man (1949) and Our Man in Havana (1959).
Based on Greene’s short story, The Basement Room, The Fallen Idol centres on eight-year-old Phillipe (Bobby Henrey), the lonely son of the French ambassador to London, who is left in the care of story-telling butler Baines (Ralph Richardson), whom he looks up to, and Baines’ stern housekeeper wife (Sonia Dresdel).
When Mrs Baines falls to her death while trying to catch her husband out over his affair with a typing pool secretary (Michèle Morgan), Phillipe is convinced Baines murdered his wife. But in lying to the investigating detectives in a bid to protect his hero, only puts Baines in further trouble…
Told almost entirely from Philipe’s perspective, Carol Reed’s engrossing thriller (which hasn’t dated at all) makes the most of its enormous opulent staircase setting (courtesy of Vincent Korda’s talented emigré-populated art department), the natural, awkward charms of its young non-actor star (Henrey), and the magnetic presence of Richardson, who gives a wonderfully sympathetic portrayal.
Carol’s direction shows great understanding of character (even the minor ones like Dora Bryan’s streetwalker Rose); while the cinematography and editing from Georges Périnal (who worked with Rene Clair and Jean Cocteau) and Oswald Hafenrichter is a masterclass in those cinematic crafts. This is a true cinematic masterpiece that got a well deserved Bafta for Best British Film and should be treated with the same respect as Reed’s better known classics.
Watch out for future Bond stars Bernard Lee and Geoffrey Keen as the detectives, alongisde genre heavyweights Torin Thatcher and Jack Hawkins…
• Interview with Robert Henrey (interesting to hear his side on making the film)
• Interview with director Guy Hamilton (who learn’t his craft as an assistant director)
• Locations featurette (which revisits Grosvenor Crescent in Belgrave Square and takes a pub crawl around the nearby streets used for Philippe’s night-time escape)
• Interview with film historian Charles Drazin (quite informative)
• Interview with fan Richard Ayoade (who is very passionate, but does goes on a bit)
• Restoration comparison (quite amazing the difference)
The Fallen Idol also screens tonight in the UK on True Entertainment (Sky 184, Virgin 189, Freeview 61, Freesat 142) at 11pm
Part of the Vintage Classics collection – showcasing iconic, fully restored, British films. For more information, check out: www.facebook.com/vintageclassicsfilm
Once voted the ‘Best British film ever made’ in a poll by the BFI, 1949’s The Third Man has been given a stunning 4k restoration and is now available to own on DVD and Blu-ray in a collector’s edition that includes a host of brand new extras, from Studiocanal.
HUNTED…By a thousand men! Haunted…By a lovely girl!
Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten), a writer of pulp Westerns, arrives in post-war Vienna on the invitation of his childhood friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles). But on arrival he finds that Harry has recently been killed by a car whilst crossing the street, leaving a grief-stricken lover, Anna (Alida Valli).
When local British investigating office Calloway (Trevor Howard) claims that Lime was an unsavoury criminal, Martins accepts an offer from a local book club to stay in Vienna in order to clear his friend’s name. As he investigates his friend’s last hours, he grows closer to the doomed Anna, and learns of an unidentified ‘third man’ at the scene of the accident, who may hold the key to the deepening mystery surrounding Harry’s death.
He’ll have you in a dither with his zither!
Upon its release in 1949, director Carol Reed’s atmospheric thriller The Third Man instantly became a classic, winning the Grand Prix at Cannes, a BAFTA for Best British Film, and the Oscar for Best Cinematography for Robert Krasker. Featuring some of cinema’s most memorable set pieces and quotable lines, the film’s Viennese locations quickly etch themselves in the memory. The city may have been bombed out and strewn with rubble, divided into four sectors by the Allies, but it still stood tall in all its faded grandeur.
The film was also the masterwork of it’s key players – Carol Reed, Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles, as well as Graham Greene, who wrote the script while holed up in the now legendary Hotel Sacher, where Cotten’s Martins stays in the film, and composer Anton Karas, who was then a musician for hire playing in the wine gardens of Vienna when Carol Reed first encountered him. His six week work on the soundtrack resulted in a unique and melancholy zither score that has since become iconic.
The 4-disc Blu-ray collector’s edition includes the Deluxe 4k restored print of the feature, the full soundtrack by Anton Karas, with zither music performed by Gertrud Huber, a set of postcards, and the following extras:
• Audio Commentary with Guy Hamilton, Simon Callow & Angela Allen
• Shadowing The Third Man featurette
• Interview & Zither Performance by Cornelia Mayer
• The Third Man Interactive Vienna Tour
• Guardian NFT Interview – Joseph Cotten & Graham Greene (Audio Only)
• Joseph Cotten’s Alternate Opening Voiceover Narration
• The Third Man: A Filmmaker’s Influence featurette
• Restoring The Third Man featurette
• Dangerous Edge: Graham Greene Documentary