The Informer (1935)

91, 95 or 97 mins | Drama | 24 May 1935

Director:

John Ford

Writer:

Dudley Nichols

Cinematographer:

Joseph August

Editor:

George Hively

Production Designer:

Van Nest Polglase

Production Company:

RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

According to Var , Robert Sisk, a former publicity and ad director for RKO, who later became a prominent RKO producer, assisted on the making of this film. Modern sources state that Sisk, an Irish-American, made production suggestions that were drawn from his knowledge of Celtic lore. Dudley Nichols and John Ford worked on the screenplay while cruising Ford's schooner off the coast of Mexico, according to a HR news item. RKO borrowed Heather Angel from Universal for this film. According to a HR production chart, Walter James, Fred Hagney, Harry Allen, Maude Eburne and Pat Somerset were cast members, but their participation in the final film has not been confirmed.
       The Informer won four Academy Awards: John Ford, Best Direction; Victor McLaglen, Best Actor; Dudley Nichols, Best Screenplay; and Max Steiner, Best Music Score. The film was nominated as Best Picture, but lost to Mutiny on the Bounty . Nichols at first refused to accept his award because of a feud that was raging between the Screen Writers' Guild and the Academy, but finally collected it at the 1938 Academy Awards ceremony. FD included The Informer in its "ten best" poll of American film critics, and the film earned the New York Film Critics "Gold Medal" award for best picture of 1935. Among the many other awards that The Informer and its filmmakers won were the Prix du Roi, the highest prize of the 1935 Brussels International Film Festival, and the National Board of Review's best picture award for 1935. Modern sources state that press agent Barret McCormick ... More Less

According to Var , Robert Sisk, a former publicity and ad director for RKO, who later became a prominent RKO producer, assisted on the making of this film. Modern sources state that Sisk, an Irish-American, made production suggestions that were drawn from his knowledge of Celtic lore. Dudley Nichols and John Ford worked on the screenplay while cruising Ford's schooner off the coast of Mexico, according to a HR news item. RKO borrowed Heather Angel from Universal for this film. According to a HR production chart, Walter James, Fred Hagney, Harry Allen, Maude Eburne and Pat Somerset were cast members, but their participation in the final film has not been confirmed.
       The Informer won four Academy Awards: John Ford, Best Direction; Victor McLaglen, Best Actor; Dudley Nichols, Best Screenplay; and Max Steiner, Best Music Score. The film was nominated as Best Picture, but lost to Mutiny on the Bounty . Nichols at first refused to accept his award because of a feud that was raging between the Screen Writers' Guild and the Academy, but finally collected it at the 1938 Academy Awards ceremony. FD included The Informer in its "ten best" poll of American film critics, and the film earned the New York Film Critics "Gold Medal" award for best picture of 1935. Among the many other awards that The Informer and its filmmakers won were the Prix du Roi, the highest prize of the 1935 Brussels International Film Festival, and the National Board of Review's best picture award for 1935. Modern sources state that press agent Barret McCormick predicted that The Informer would be an enormous success with the critics and be on every "ten best" list in the nation. Although his prediction proved accurate, the film, whose budget was reported by NYT at $218,000 (modern sources list the budget as either $215,000, $243,000 or $340,000), barely recovered its cost in its initial release. However, the film was "revived" in late 1935 and 1936 and, according to NYT , became the "most substantial money maker" on the RKO schedule.
       In a contemporary interview in NYT , Ford relates the following information about the making of The Informer : In 1933, Ford, who was a close friend of author Liam O'Flaherty, and screenwriters James K. McGuinness and Dudley Nichols approached Fox, where they were all working at the time, about buying the screen rights to O'Flaherty's novel. Fox and several other studios turned down the project, however. Sometime later, while Ford and Nichols were working at RKO, they talked to J. R. McDonough, then studio head, about the book, and McDonough agreed to pursue the matter, but met with strong resistance from production chief B. B. Kahane. Although apprehensive about the story's box office appeal, Kahane and other RKO executives, who had expressed similar doubts about Ford's very successful 1934 film The Lost Patrol , eventually agreed to produce the project and bought the novel for $5,000. Ford, who contracted only for a share of the profits, brought the film in $50,000 under budget and completed shooting in three weeks. In the same interview, Ford admitted that he had to talk McLaglen into taking the lead role but denied having "tricked" a performance out of him. According to Ford, McLaglen did not become drunk in order to play drunk, but did leave the memorization of his lines until the last possible minute. Ford also stated that he had "cut all of his films," including The Informer . (George Hively, however, received screen credit and was nominated for an Academy Award.)
       In an Apr 1935 NYT article about the founding of the Screen Director's Guild (now called the Director's Guild of America), Ford states that an incident that took place shortly after he had finished shooting The Informer was one of the catalysts for the creation of the Guild. Ford claims that while he was leaving the RKO studios one night, he saw a group of men dressed in "Black and Tan" uniforms entering a sound stage. Upon inquiry, he discovered that a producer had ordered additional scenes to be shot for The Informer , without Ford's prior knowledge or consent. This artistic "interference" apparently angered Ford into spearheading the Guild drive.
       Although the film had little trouble with American censors, it was cut in Ontario, Canada, and was banned in Peru. The British government demanded 129 deletions, including the removal of all references to violence, "Black and Tans" and the Irish Republic and its army. In 1948, The Informer was revived for general release.
       Modern sources state that the film was shot on a single set, which was erected on two stages that reproduced the streets of Dublin. Modern sources add the following credits: Julia Heron ( Set decorator ) and Eddie Donahue ( Assistant director ). Additional cast members from modern sources include Jack Mulhall ( Lookout ), Robert Parrish ( Soldier ) and Frank Baker. In 1929, British International produced the first screen version of O'Flaherty's novel, which starred Lyade Putti and Lars Hansen and was directed by Arthur Robinson. Jules Dassin directed Raymond St. Jacques and Ruby Dee in a 1968 Paramount release called Uptight , which was loosely based on O'Flaherty's novel (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70 ; F6.5308). Also in 1968, Kermit Bloomgarden secured the rights to Flaherty's novel, to RKO's film and to a play based on the novel in order to mount a Broadway musical version of the story, which was to be written by E. Y. Harburg and Burton Lane. No evidence that the play was ever produced has been found, however. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
24 Apr 35
p. 3.
Film Daily
1 May 35
p. 8.
Film Daily
31 Oct 35
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Dec 34
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Mar 35
pp. 14-15.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Apr 35
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Mar 38
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
18-Sep-48
---
Motion Picture Daily
25 Apr 35
p. 4.
Motion Picture Herald
16 Mar 35
p. 35.
Motion Picture Herald
4 May 35
pp. 32-35, 38
New York Times
10 May 35
p. 25.
New York Times
28-Jul-35
---
New York Times
8-Sep-35
---
New York Times
2 Jan 36
p. 21.
New York Times
5-Jan-36
---
New York Times
29-Mar-36
---
New York Times
5-Apr-36
---
New York Times
23-Aug-36
---
Variety
15 May 35
p. 19.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A John Ford Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Contr to trmt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir assoc
FILM EDITOR
COSTUMES
MUSIC
SOUND
PRODUCTION MISC
Press agent
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Informer by Liam O'Flaherty (London, 1925).
SONGS
"The Rose of Tralee," traditional
"Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms," words by Thomas Moore, music traditional.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
24 May 1935
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 9 May 1935
Production Date:
11 February--14 March 1935
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
24 May 1935
Copyright Number:
LP5631
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Victor System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
91, 95 or 97
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
734
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1922, in the strife-torn streets of Dublin, Gypo Nolan, a poor, lumbering goliath, sees a "wanted for murder" poster of his best friend, rebel Frankie McPhillip, that promises a twenty-pound reward for information leading to Frankie's arrest. Although broke and hungry, Gypo suppresses his interest in the poster, until his girl friend, prostitute Katie Madden, berates him in frustration for their poverty. Spurred on by Katie's longing for passage to America, Gypo enters the headquarters of the British army and reveals that Frankie, whom he has just seen, is at Frankie's mother's house. After Frankie is killed in front of his mother and sister Mary, Gypo collects his reward money and finds his way to a pub. There, he explains to Katie that he acquired his newfound wealth by robbing a drunken American sailor. Gypo then shows up at Frankie's wake, where his edgy, defensive behavior and collection of coins arouse suspicion in some members of the Irish rebel army, which had ousted him earlier for failing to carry out an execution. To test their suspicions, the rebels take Gypo to see Dan Gallagher, the commandant of the underground army, who tells Gypo that if he reveals the name of the informant, he will be reinstated in the group. Eager to prove himself, Gypo blurts out the name of tailor Pat Mulligan and then invents a revenge motive for him. Dan, who is anxious to rout out the traitor, agrees to investigate Gypo's accusations at a meeting to be held later that night. Before the meeting, a now drunken Gypo is befriended by Terry, an opportunistic conman, who encourages him ... +


In 1922, in the strife-torn streets of Dublin, Gypo Nolan, a poor, lumbering goliath, sees a "wanted for murder" poster of his best friend, rebel Frankie McPhillip, that promises a twenty-pound reward for information leading to Frankie's arrest. Although broke and hungry, Gypo suppresses his interest in the poster, until his girl friend, prostitute Katie Madden, berates him in frustration for their poverty. Spurred on by Katie's longing for passage to America, Gypo enters the headquarters of the British army and reveals that Frankie, whom he has just seen, is at Frankie's mother's house. After Frankie is killed in front of his mother and sister Mary, Gypo collects his reward money and finds his way to a pub. There, he explains to Katie that he acquired his newfound wealth by robbing a drunken American sailor. Gypo then shows up at Frankie's wake, where his edgy, defensive behavior and collection of coins arouse suspicion in some members of the Irish rebel army, which had ousted him earlier for failing to carry out an execution. To test their suspicions, the rebels take Gypo to see Dan Gallagher, the commandant of the underground army, who tells Gypo that if he reveals the name of the informant, he will be reinstated in the group. Eager to prove himself, Gypo blurts out the name of tailor Pat Mulligan and then invents a revenge motive for him. Dan, who is anxious to rout out the traitor, agrees to investigate Gypo's accusations at a meeting to be held later that night. Before the meeting, a now drunken Gypo is befriended by Terry, an opportunistic conman, who encourages him to spend his £20 buying food and drink for strangers. Dan, meanwhile, questions Mary about Frankie's fatal visit, and she reveals that Frankie had mentioned seeing Gypo just before coming home. Armed with this information, the rebels find a reeling, nearly broke Gypo in an "after hours" club and escort him to the meeting. After questioning a befuddled Mulligan, the rebels turn on Gypo, who finally admits his deed. Unmoved by Gypo's protests that he didn't know what he was doing, the rebels lock him up and draw straws for his execution. Desperate, Gypo breaks out of his cell and runs to Katie, who hears his tearful confession of betrayal. Filled with her own guilt, Katie goes to Dan and begs for Gypo's life, but discloses his whereabouts in the process. While sleeping in front of Katie's fireplace, Gypo is besieged by the vengeful rebels and shot. The wounded Gypo staggers to a nearby church and makes a dying confession to Frankie's grieving mother. As Gypo collapses for the last time at the foot of the altar, Frankie's mother forgives him. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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