The Informer is forcefully and intelligently written, directed and acted. Story [by Liam O’Flaherty] deals with the Irish rebellion against British authority prior to 1922, when the Irish Free State’s creation finally removed the hated symbols of British domination.
Amidst the rebellion-rife slums of Dublin a huge ox of a peasant, named Gypo Nolan (Victor McLaglen) loves Katie Fox (Margot Grahame) who picks up her room rent on the streets. Gypo reproaches her and is in turn taunted for his miserable poverty and inability to provide money. Stung by the girl’s bitterness, Gypo, in fascinated horror at his own wickedness, deliberately turns informer on his best friend to obtain $100 reward. Irony of this deed is that Gypo is really a softie, having been court martialed and expelled from the Republican army for failing to carry out a political assassination.
What makes the picture powerful is the faithful characterization of McLaglen as guided and developed by the direction of John Ford. Gypo is a blundering, pathetic fool who is not basically vicious yet is guilty of a truly foul betrayal.
Wallace Ford, as the boy who is turned in, is smartly cast. Margot Grahame grabs some attention as the harlot. Preston Foster, a good actor, is the head of the Republican underground battalion.
1935: Best Director, Actor (Victor McLaglen), Screenplay, Score.
Nominations: Best Picture, Editing