The Fallen Idol

A Fallen Idol, from 1948, was directed by Carol Reed and written by Graham Greene, based on his short story The Basement Room.

It tells the story of a butler working in the French embassy in London who falls under suspicion when his wife accidentally falls to her death, the only witness being an impressionable young boy.

Starring Ralph Richardson as the butler, it was nominated for 2 Oscars: Carol Reed for Direction and Graham Greene for Screenplay.

Reed also directed 2 other Graham Greene stories, The Third Man (1949), with Orson Welles and Our Man in Havana (1959), with Alec Guiness. He was nominated for another directing Oscar for The Third Man.

In 1952, he became the first British film director to be knighted for his craft.

In 1962, he was hired to direct Mutiny on the Bounty but what he didn’t know was that the studio had pretty much given Marlon Brando artistic control of the picture.
After trying to deal with Brando's ego for several months, he finally quit the picture in frustration.

His biggest sensation and success came in 1968, with his musical adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel, Oliver! The film was nominated for eleven Oscars, winning five and two of the big ones - Best Picture and Best Director.

He also was the uncle of hard-drinking, hell-raising British actor Oliver Reed, who incidentally died of a heart attack in 1999 in a bar in Malta after downing three bottles of Captain Morgan rum, eight bottles of German beer, numerous whiskey doubles, and beating five much younger Royal Navy sailors at arm-wrestling.

While directing this film, Reed found 8-year-old Bobby Henrey's short attention span very difficult to deal with. So many of his scenes were filmed with the young boy looking at his favorite crew or cast member, and his performance was pieced together in the cutting room.

Both of Henrey's parents were authors and Carol Reed found Bobby from his picture on the dust jacket one of his father's books.

Graham Greene, who wrote the screenplay, was one of the greatest novelists of the 20th century and his influence on the cinema and theatre was enormous.

The recurring themes of treachery and betrayal in Greene's writing stem from his troubled school years where he was often tormented for being the headmaster's son.

After several suicide attempts, Greene left school one day and wrote to his parents that he did not wish to return. This resulted in his being sent to a therapist in London at age fifteen. His analyst encouraged him to write.

Throughout his career, Greene wrote 60 plays, novels and TV scripts and almost all of his novels have been made into films. He also wrote the screenplay for The Third Man. In addition to plays and novels, Greene was a film reviewer for several magazines.

In 1937, he was accused of a 'gross outrage' on Shirley Temple, then 9, for his review of Wee Willie Winkie in the publication Night and Day.

He wrote that "her admirers - middle-aged men and clergymen - respond to the sight of her well-shaped and desirable little body, packed with enormous vitality."
The publication folded after losing an expensive libel lawsuit. The criminal libel could have landed Greene in prison; so he took a long trip to Mexico to “write”.

Mexico did not have an extradition treaty with the UK at the time. Luckily he did not have to go to jail. Throughout his life Greene travelled far from England, to what he called the world's wild and remote places.

The travels led to him being recruited into MI6 by his sister, Elisabeth, who worked for the organization; and he was posted to Sierra Leone during the Second World War.

Kim Philby, who would later be revealed as a Soviet double agent, was Greene's supervisor and friend at MI6.

A notorious womanizer, he married only once but had a string of extra marital affairs and during the 1920s and 30s he confessed that he’d had relationships with over fifty prostitutes.

In 1990, he moved from the south of France to Vevey, Switzerland, to be closer to his daughter. Charlie Chaplin was living in Vevey at this time & they became good friends. Greene died in 1991.

Ralph Richardson, the butler, is another actor who has played both God - in Time Bandits (1981) - and the devil - in Tales from the Crypt (1972).

Famously eccentric, he once stopped in a middle of a stage performance, and addressed the audience, enquiring "Is there doctor in the house".

When a doctor made himself known, Richardson calmly enquired "Isn't this a terrible play, doctor ?"

Once found by police walking very slowly along the gutter of an Oxford street, he explained he was taking his pet mouse for a stroll. He was knighted in 1947.