The Fallen Idol

I went off to work and became very tired after my shift.  I returned to have something to eat and take a nap.  I got up slowly and walked over to the theatre to see “The Fallen Idol.”  I don’t know if it has been on local screens since 1948, but it proved to be a pretty good picture.  The director was Carol Reed, known for “The Third Man” and “Oliver!”  The movie was based on a Graham Greene story.  The setting is an embassy in London.  The first shot shows a young boy named Phil sitting on a staircase.  It reminded me of Hitchcock’s “Notorious.”  We would get a Hitchcock type of suspense late in the movie.  Phil’s friends are a butler named Baines and a snake named MacGregor.  Phil misinterprets adult behavior.  He does know that he can’t stand Mrs. Baines.  He lies too much, and this comes to hurt Baines during an investigation into the death of his wife.  The mistress Julie tells him that telling the truth can never hurt, but this is simplistic advice during this investigation.  This kid is just oblivious to the implications of what he says.  He doesn’t know anything about the world.  I think that the lesson of this movie is that children are just plain stupid and it’s foolish to be so sentimental about them.  There are only two actors I recognized among the cast.  First, there was Ralph Richardson as Baines.  I thought he was very good in this movie.  I only ever recall him as an old man in the movies.  Then there was Bernard Lee, who would become M in the James Bond movies.  It was the child’s point of view of the world that was reminiscent of Oliver Twist.  The kid annoyingly eavesdropped on phone calls and let slip some key information.  You’ve got to be crazy to trust any kid like this with a secret.  The child actor who was Phil reportedly had an extremely short attention span and needed great patience to deal with.  I would say that the effort was worth it, because he was much better than most child actors I’ve seen over the years.  Some of the shots of the London streets were like images from “The Third Man.”  I don’t know how the police could expect to get any meaningful evidence from this dopey kid who couldn’t keep his mouth shut.  What kind of education has this kid received?  He’s not living in the real world.  It’s interesting how some bits of behavior and information add to the tension.  When Baines and Julie ignore Phil at the zoo, you figure something terrible is going to come of this.  The sequence where the three of them are playing hide and seek in the mansion is one of the memorable parts of the movie.  Also, if your fate depends on the perceptions of a self-centered, immature young boy, you have to figure to prepare for the worst.  I thought about how unreliable these policemen were.  They didn’t have crime labs to help them out.  It was uncomfortable how they came to conclusions.  Baines was a fallen idol because of his cheating and lying, and he didn’t even have the adventures in Africa that he claimed.  The funniest moment in the movie involved a prostitute.  There were references to intimacy in the dialogue, but I was reminded of how long ago this movie was made.  I appreciated the pace of this movie and wished that today’s movies didn’t have so much excess fat to them.  “The Fallen Idol” was the type of movie that I would have seen on a double feature, like a pairing with “The Third Man,” during the 1980s.  I appreciate the effort that went into making this film.  It felt like preparation for “The Third Man.”  It was a satisfying afternoon at the movies for me.  I went home and watched the Jackson 5 on The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour.  Their guests were the Jackson 5 and Ronald Reagan.  I noticed Larry Storch in one skit.  Reagan also appeared on The Dick Cavett Show.  He said that he didn’t want to make any announcements about running for an office higher than governor of California.  Ethel Merman was on The Judy Garland Show.  She certainly had a big, loud voice.  I heard that the San Jose Sharks lost their game with the Pittsburgh Penguins.  The Sharks are now in a great deal of trouble, behind 3 games to 1.  I didn’t know what happened to Gianna Franco on KPIX, but it seemed that Erica Hill was leaving NBC.  Some of the people who died on June 7 include Jean Harlow (1937), Alan Turing (1954), Judy Holliday (1965), Dorothy Parker (1967), E.M Forster (1970), Henry Miller (1980), Jim McKay (2008), and Bob Welch (2012).  Today is a birthday for Liam Neeson (64) and Tom Jones (76).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for June 7, The Johnny Cash Show debuted on ABC in 1969, featuring Bob Dylan in the first episode.  In 1975, John Denver was Number One on the singles chart with “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.”  In 1986, Madonna hit Number One on the singles chart with “Live to Tell.”  In 1996, “The Rock” was released.  Dean Martin would have turned 99 years old today.

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