Victor McLaglen gave the performance of his life as the scar-faced betrayer, Gypo Nolan, in this telling adaptation of Liam O'Flaherty's novel, directed by John Ford. The film gleaned top honors from the Academy, winning Oscars for McLaglen as Best Actor, Dudley Nichols for Best Adaptation,
Max Steiner for Best Musical Score, and Ford for Best Director (he also won the New York Critics Best Director award).
Ford's tale of a hard-drinking brute who informs on one of his friends in order to collect a reward during the Irish Civil War of 1922 was made for a mere $243,000, and stands as one of the director's finer 1930s films. Joseph August's photography is superb, with its atmospheric shadows and light;
the studio sets are brilliant representations of a fog-bound 1920s Dublin, complete with wet cobblestones and sweating walls. Through this mythic setting Ford moves his characters stoically to their grim fates. His selection of Victor McLaglen, who had starred in his other memorable talkie, THE
LOST PATROL, was a masterstroke. Barrel-chested, with a thunderous voice and ox-like shoulders, McLaglen was the perfect Gypo Nolan, his battered face jutting pugnaciously into the camera (he had once been Heavyweight Champion of Great Britain). McLaglen never again reached such heights, although
he appeared in around 150 films.
The first of three features Ford did for RKO, THE INFORMER became the studio's most prestigious production for years. Writer Nichols, one of Ford's favorite collaborators, wrote the script in six days, and Ford shot the entire film within another 17 days. THE INFORMER marked a turning point both
for Ford, just entering into his most productive period, and composer Steiner, whose marvelous score perfectly fits every scene, from thundering patriotic cadences to lyrical and evocative motifs. The O'Flaherty novel had previously been filmed by British International as a silent; a remake with
an all-Black cast, directed by Jules Dassin under the title UPTIGHT!, appeared in 1968.
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- Review: Victor McLaglen gave the performance of his life as the scar-faced betrayer, Gypo Nolan, in this telling adaptation of Liam O'Flaherty's novel, directed by John Ford. The film gleaned top honors from the Academy, winning Oscars for McLaglen as Best Actor,… (more)