my Movie

Movie Details

Title:   The Fallen Idol
Director:   Carol Reed
Year:   1948
Genre:   Thriller
Times Seen:   1
Last Seen:   08.20.07

Other Movies Seen By This Director (2)
- Night Train to Munich
- The Third Man

Notes History
Date Viewed Venue Note
08.20.07Paramount I'd never seen this before. It's really great. Reed's sense of tension coupled with his rigid British sensibility maes for what I found to be an extraordinary picture.

The story takes place in the French Embassy in London. The Ambassador's gone to pick up his long-absent wife and left his young son to the house's support staff while he's gone. The kid likes Mr. Baines (probably the butler) but hates Mrs. Baines (like the head maid). Stuff happens and things develop and shit gets real.

At first, the obvious great thing about this movie is that kid. He does such a wonderful job acting like a real kid... curious, undaunted, innocently obnoxious. It doesn't hurt that he also looks precious and Reed gets these wonderful kid-esque looks from him (especially when he's come back from his "sleepwalk" and is covering his mouth with the blanket, basically speaking with his eyes). Reed's also very careful to throw in plenty of levity early on in the picture to allow the kid to really grow on you (The trip to the zoo in particular), which is key because you need to be completely on this kid's side when the dramatic event happens and you start scooting closer to the edge of your seat. And of course Baines is great as well, but so is Mrs. Baines. She's SO evil it's great. Really a venom-dripping Nurse Ratchett performance from her.

But all this is kinda alright. I mean, I was liking the movie but not really loving it. And then something happens - the big event - and I really got into it. First, that it happens so late in the movie is both ballsy and admirable. It made me look back at the hour or so that I'd been watching and realizing the heaviness of the lifting going on during all of those seemingly light and frivolous scenes to set up things just so we the audience know exactly what we need in order to find all of the different levels of tension that fire off when this catalyst ignites.

This is the biggest thing that I loved about the movie. The tension in the last act of the movie is like a writhing snake: It's constantly shifting and changing and popping up in places that you don't normally expect to find tension. On one level, yeah, there's the big question of whether or not the character you like will come out ok... yeah, expected that. But at one point you're holding your breath not because the police are missing key evidence (although the movie hits that note as well... and quite wonderfully I might add. Reed manages to put the piece of evidence (a window) in nearly every shot of the entire sequence. It's enough to make you want to scream at the screen) but that the child will tell the truth! It's an ingenious turn to take the two characters you're "with" and have one misunderstand something critical. The dynamic that forms really surprised me with how many opportunities for nail-biting it creates.

So the last act of the movie really drew me in and made me love this movie. And probably made me love the first two acts all the more. This is really superior filmmaking at work here; it's a joy to see.
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