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The Informer Review

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McLaglen is Gypo Nolan, a small-time drunken Dubliner who dreams of a new life in America, but who dooms himself when he accepts money from the British - a contemptuous officer doles it out like 30 pieces of silver - to rat on his best friend, rebel hero Dan Gallagher (Foster).

★★★★★

It is a strange irony that John Ford's reputation has been elevated from Hollywood professional to poetic genius on the strength of a body of work - chiefly, the Westerns (Stagecoach, The Searchers) - that were seen as commercial efforts when they first came out. Alternately the Ford films which won Oscars and were hailed as artistic triumphs (Arrowsmith, How Green Was My Valley) have since faded somewhat.

The Informer, which feels a bit like the Michael Collins of 1935, falls into the latter category, a heavily allegorical tale of Irish rebellion from the novel by Liam O'Flaherty, with quite a bit going for it. McLaglen, who won a Best Actor award, is Gypo Nolan, a small-time drunken Dubliner who dreams of a new life in America, but who dooms himself when he accepts money from the British - a contemptuous officer doles it out like 30 pieces of silver - to rat on his best friend, rebel hero Dan Gallagher (Foster).

Ford was clearly influenced by German Expressionist cinema, and the foggy Dublin that Gypo is chased through harks back to the silents as it prefigures the films noir of the 1940s, with McLaglen's blubbering Judas coming on a little like Peter Lorre in Fritz Lang's very similar M. The script has not aged well and there's something of an overdose of the ominous. McLaglen may well be a ham, and it's hard to forgive the crying-to-Jesus scenes, but he is a great screen presence, and when Ford forgets about religion and concentrates on squealer-on-the-run thrills, the film still has a real charge.

The script hasn't aged well and their's an overdose of the ominous, but when Ford forgets about religion and concentrates on squealer-on-the-run thrills, the film still has a real charge.