A well-told story, brilliantly filmed and acted. The crux of the story is in the title of the film: Mr. Baines is excellent at his job--and a father figure to Phillipe--but flawed in his private life. Bobby Henrey is playing an ambassador's son being raised by servants, and his acting is true to character. Reed is a master of small, wry, and telling moments such as when Rose tells Phillipe "I know your dad." Oh snap!
Tremendous choice, MUBI! So surprising. I am also surprised by the complaints here about the boy. Are people so used to paper cut-out movie children with no actual child psychology to them? Try to imagine the events of the movie from the perspective of Philipe, the ethical tangle he is not equipped for. He is a real Hitchcock innocent/wrongly-accused main character, a Harrison Ford role. Very cool twist.
4.5 What is the symbolism of the snake and Philippe's personal Garden of Eden? Mrs Baines could be Lilith, who must be dispatched as she will not obey Mr Baines.Then Julie can step in as a proper Eve. The snake symbolizes deception, and its death at Mrs Baines' hands is to no avail. Lies and secrets still corrode Philippe's innocence. Sound design is terrific with focus on only what Philippe would hear. Great title!
Ralph Richardson is superb, as always. The boy is surprisingly good. The only flaw is the attempted dramatic moment near the end. It's a big plot event, but the lead-up is pedestrian. The resolution is an unsatisfactory let-down. What little tension existed in the scene deflates like an under-filled whoopee cushion. Hitchcock would have done this SO MUCH better!
I wouldn't call it an educational movie but it definitely shows how some adults use a child for their own misbehavior. And for children, it's a great movie about the danger of keeping a secret. If it wasn't too long it would be great for the little ones to watch.
A young boy is the main character of a film with an Adult Certificate given by the British censors! The impressionable boy keeps the viewer wondering how the story will end. Who is the screenplay writer? The novelist Graham Greene. and Greene never lets you down. Director Sir Carol Reed went on to win honours for another boy centered film two decades later---"Oliver!"
It's no wonder that kids get messed up. All the mixed messages. It's so hard to interpret. The kid is not any more annoying that your normal precocious kid. You have to give it to Carol Reed for the marvelous job he did with Bobby Henrey, because he was a horrible actor in real life. It was some very careful editing and huge amounts of patience that got him to look so good. Big props to Ralph, of course.