Thursday, November 9, 2006

The Fallen Idol

Posted on Thu, Nov 9, 2006 at 4:00 AM

The Fallen Idol
Studio: The Criterion Collection
WorkNameSort: 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.

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