Watching The Fallen Idol at the Laemmle Royal

When I was looking over the schedule for last month’s TCM Film Festival one movie that caught my eye was The Fallen Idol. A British noir from the director of The Third Man, Carol Reed, it it seemed right up my alley. But as things go, I didn’t make it to the screening only to find it among the most buzzed about events of the fest.

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Of course, I was super bummed I missed it. Lucky for me, Rialto Pictures recently completed a restoration of the film and it just opened at the Laemmle Royal.

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The Royal is located on Santa Monica Blvd. in West LA and is a part of the Laemmle chain of theatres. If the name sounds familiar it’s probably because Carl Laemmle founded Universal Studios and was one of the giants of early Hollywood. Laemmle theatres was founded by his nephews, Kurt and Max, in 1938 and for the past 75 years it has been a leader in SoCal cinema. You can find the theatres all over the area with much of the focus on independent cinema. Hence, the recent screening of The Fallen Idol.

I attended a screening Friday night and was happy to find it well attended. There’s nothing like watching a classic amongst a crowd.As for the film itself…I LOVED it. Filled with suspense and featuring amazing performances by Ralph Richardson and Bobby Henrey it made for one of my favorite theatre going experiences.

It takes place in London at the home of the French ambassador. Phillipe (Bobby Henrey), his son, is left in the care of the married butler and housekeeper while his parents are away. During this time he learns of a discord between the two and is privy to several secrets. He’s treated as a confidante by multiple parties who underestimate his knowledge of what is happening around him. This all comes to a head in a tragic death that Phillipe is witness to. But does he really know what he saw?

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Bobby Henrey was only 8 years old at the time and making his feature film debut. That’s almost unbelievable because his performance is fantastic. He handles comedy, drama, anger and fear so adeptly it’s as if he grew up onscreen. I loved Phillipe – an adorable child caught in a precarious position.

I’m so glad I made it to a screening of The Fallen Idol. The film is a true masterpiece that I hope reaches more audiences through its re-release. I can;t wait to see it again.

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