Carol Reed followed the success of Odd Man Out (1947) with this adaptation of Graham Greene’s short story, The Basement Room. Young Felipe (a revelatory Bobby Henrey) is a son of a diplomat who is never around, who instead forms a friendship with his butler Baines (Ralph Richardson). Baines impresses the young child with tales of his heroic past in Africa and ongoing adventures – when, in fact, he leads a mundane life in a loveless marriage. After believing he witnesses Baines committing a violent act, Felipe does his best to protect his older friend from danger, in Reed’s emotional drama about the loss of childhood innocence.
Reed’s film was nominated for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay (Graham Greene) at the 1948 Academy Awards, and won Best British Film at that year’s BAFTA Awards. There have been many films depicting the transition into adolescence, but The Fallen Idol remains one of the most truthful and heart-breaking.