The film is told through the naive eyes of a diplomat’s young son, Philippe, who idolises his father’s butler, Baines. Baines has invented a heroic persona to keep the boy entertained, and often tells him stories of his exotic and daring adventures in Africa and elsewhere, stories such as putting down a native uprising single-handed, killing a man in self-defense, shooting lions and so on. In reality, the butler has never been to Africa and is stuck in a loveless marriage, while dreaming of happiness with a younger woman (who he tells Philippe is his niece after the boy finds them together). After Baines has an argument with his betrayed wife, she accidentally falls from a landing to her death. However, Philippe believes that he has seen Baines murder her. The boy desperately and clumsily attempts to protect his hero when the police investigate, but his efforts only lead Baines deeper into trouble.
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