The Informer Screen 4 articles

The Informer

1935

The Informer Poster
  • Victor McLaglen's plain, doleful mug is unforgettable, yet he (or his character) is also the weak point. The plotting makes it clear what's going to happen, even if the fog-shrouded look didn't already spell doom - and a film where the hero found some grace in the knowledge of his certain punishment would be interesting, ditto a film where he lost himself in blissful oblivion and refused to participate in the story's moralism, but McLaglen is too limited to find all those layers.

  • Ford's fondness for broad, drunken humor and heightened sentimentality tend to detract from the good stuff, which is all to do with the foggy chiaroscuro lighting and expressionistic compositions. There's also the problem that a central character with such a clouded inner life, who cannot figure out his own motivations or even lie convincingly, can be trying company for ninety minutes.

  • The movie’s defiant specificity—its insistence on conjuring an appropriate visual tone for this Dublin at this time—was its great asset; it was also the thing that Ford’s distrustful producers took the greatest pains to stamp out.

  • Ford under the influence of Murnau, but also downright Langian in its underworld and cruel mousetrap of inevitability. This is surely one of Ford's saddest films, a look at the delusions of alcoholism and what money means to a community that has none. It sheds light on his rosier work—his cinema is best when he acknowledges the dark side of his just-plain-folk. Either it's one of his best, or I'm a cynical bastard.

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