Director: CAROL REED

95 minutes| U.K.| 1948| Black and White| 35mm

Greene’s first collaboration with director Carol Reed was an Oscar-nominated adaptation of one of his most personal short stories, The Basement Room. The setting has been shifted to a foreign embassy and the story is no longer one of a boy who unwittingly betrayed his best friend to the police but one where the boy (Bobby Henrey) mistakenly believes that the butler he idolises (Ralph Richardson) has committed murder and almost procures his arrest by telling lies in his defence. Unlike in the story, there is humour as well as suspense, but the characteristic themes remain: childhood as a foreign country; adult corruption undermined by lethal innocence. A game of hide-and-seek in the dark (one of Greene’s childhood favourites) summons up spectres of adultery and sexual anguish from out of the shadows, and the haggard appearance of the wronged wife (Sonia Dresdel) at the boy’s bedside is one of the great shock moments of British cinema.

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