44 Days of Paranoia #24: The Informer (dir by John Ford)

For today’s entry in the 44 Days of Paranoia, I want to take a look at John Ford’s Oscar-winning 1935 film, The Informer.

The Informer takes place in Dublin in 1921, during the Irish War of Independence and shortly before the creation of the Irish Free State.  Friendly but stupid and irresponsible Gypo Nolan (Victor McLaglen) has been kicked out of the Irish Republican Army and is pretty much a pariah among his own people.  His prostitute girlfriend, meanwhile, only wants to raise enough money to book passage for America and start a new life.

Gypo sees an opportunity when he runs into his former IRA colleague Frankie (Wallace Ford), who is one of the few people to treat Gypo kindly.  Frankie is also fugitive who has a £20 bounty on his head.  Gypo impulsively turns informer and lets the British know where Frankie is hiding.

When Frankie is killed, the guilt-ridden Gypo uses the reward money to buy a bottle of whiskey and then spends the rest of the day drunk and trying to convince the IRA the Frankie was betrayed by a nonexistent man named Mulligan.

When it was initially released in 1935, The Informer did well with both audiences and critics.  It was nominated for Best Picture and won Oscars for John Ford, Victor McLaglen, and screenwriter Dudley Nichols.  However, when viewed today, it’s easy to see the flaws in The Informer.  The film feels stagey, heavy-handed, and rather melodramatic.

And yet, with all that in mind, I still like The Informer.

Some of that, of course, is because it’s a film about Ireland and, specifically, it’s a film about how the Irish Catholics were oppressed by British occupiers.  This is a topic that I find to be endlessly fascinating and, speaking a someone who still has family living in Ardglass, County Down, I have to admit that I have a weakness for films (like this one) which tend to take the Irish side of things.

On a technical level, John Ford’s direction holds up pretty well.  There’s a few scenes where the story’s theatricality gets the better of him but, for the most part, Ford does a good job of capturing Gypo’s dreary existence and maintaining a level of suspense, despite the fact that Gypo’s fate is obvious to the audience long before it’s obvious to anyone in the film.  In Ford’s hands, the fog-filled and shadowy streets of Dublin serve as a representation of Gypo’s increasingly desperate and paranoid mindset.  Ford’s Dublin is a world where danger can come out of nowhere and where there’s no place for a big and stupid target like Gypo to hide.

The film is dominated by Victor McLaglen’s theatrical performance.  Again, there a few moments where McLaglen’s performance is a bit too broad but, for the most part, his boisterous approach works will for his well-meaning but not too smart character.  One can see not only why the film’s characters are weary of Gypo  but also why they have a difficult time rejecting him all together.

The Informer may not be perfect but it’s still worth tracking down and seeing.

Other Entries In The 44 Days of Paranoia 

  1. Clonus
  2. Executive Action
  3. Winter Kills
  4. Interview With The Assassin
  5. The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald
  6. JFK
  7. Beyond The Doors
  8. Three Days of the Condor
  9. They Saved Hitler’s Brain
  10. The Intruder
  11. Police, Adjective
  12. Burn After Reading
  13. Quiz Show
  14. Flying Blind
  15. God Told Me To
  16. Wag the Dog
  17. Cheaters
  18. Scream and Scream Again
  19. Capricorn One
  20. Seven Days In May
  21. Broken City
  22. Suddenly
  23. Pickup on South Street

It’s the 2013 Golden Globe Nominations!

The 2013 Golden Globe nominations were announced earlier this morning.  The Golden Globes have always felt like the Oscar’s goofy, somewhat sordid cousins.  And yet, despite their reputation, the Globes have become one of the more accurate precursors of the actual Oscar nominations.

The film nominees can be found below.  A complete list of the all the Golden Globe nominations — including the television nominations — can be found here.

“12 Years a Slave”
“Captain Phillips”

(The nomination for Rush is a bit of a surprise.  As for Philomena, I’m really hoping this movie doesn’t get nominated for a Best Picture Oscar because I really don’t want to have to sit through it.  The commercials make it look rather tedious.)

Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”
Idris Elba, “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”
Tom Hanks, “Captain Phillips”
Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Robert Redford, “All is Lost”

(Elba is a bit unexpected.  Mandela has not opened here in Dallas yet so I haven’t seen it or his performance yet.  Whatever momentum Redford lost as a result of being snubbed by the SAG, he probably regains as a result of being nominated for a Globe.)

Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”
Judi Dench, “Philomena”
Emma Thompson, “Saving Mr. Banks”
Kate Winslet, “Labor Day”

(With the exception Winslet, I imagine this is what the Best Actress category will look like when the Oscar nominations are announced.)

“American Hustle”
“Inside Llewyn Davis”
“The Wolf of Wall Street”

(Wow, look at all the dramas that got nominated for best comedy.)

Christian Bale, “American Hustle”
Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”
Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Oscar Isaac, “Inside Llewyn Davis”
Joaquin Phoenix, “Her”

(I would love to see Oscar Isaac get an Oscar nomination but then again, I just love Oscar Isaac in general.)

Amy Adams, “American Hustle”
Julie Delpy, “Before Midnight”
Greta Gerwig, “Frances Ha”
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Enough Said”
Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County”

(I would also love to see Greta Gerwig get an Oscar nomination for her performance in Frances Ha.)

Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips”
Daniel Bruhl, “Rush”
Bradley Cooper, “American Hustle”
Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”
Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”

(It’s good to see Barkhad Abdi getting some recognition for his amazing performance in Captain Phillips.  Meanwhile, Bradley Cooper, Michael Fassbender, and Jared Leto are here to make sure that this is the sexist category ever.  If only James Franco had been nominated for Spring Breakers.)

Sally Hawkins, “Blue Jasmine”
Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”
June Squibb, “Nebraska”

(The big news here is that Oprah Winfrey was not nominated for her performance in Lee Daniels’ The Butler.  To be honest, Oprah was okay in the film but she wasn’t great.  If she ends up winning an Oscar, as many have predicted, it’ll be remembered by clearer minds in the future as being one of the many cases where the Academy got it wrong.  Sally Hawkins’ performance in Blue Jasmine is much more award-worthy.)

Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity”
Paul Greengrass, “Captain Phillips”
Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”
Alexander Payne, “Nebraska”
David O. Russell, “American Hustle”

(No Scorsese?  Paul Greengrass is a good director but I get motion sickness whenever I watch any of his films.)

“12 Years a Slave”
“American Hustle”

“Blue is the Warmest Color”
“The Great Beauty”
“The Hunt”
“The Past”
“The Wind Rises”

(Blue Is The Warmest Color deserves to win this award.)

“The Croods”
“Despicable Me 2”

(So, The Wind Rises was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film but not Best Animated Film?)

“12 Years a Slave”
“All is Lost”
“The Book Thief”
“Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”

(Though it’ll never be nominated because of the film it appeared in, I still think the best score of the year was ROB’s score for the remake of Maniac.)

“Atlas,” “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”
“Let it Go,” “Frozen”
“Ordinary Love,” “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”
“Please Mr. Kennedy,” “Inside Llewyn Davis”
“Sweeter Than Fiction,” “One Chance”

Ghosts of Christmas Past #12: A Very Brady Christmas

Earlier this month, we shared with you the very first Brady Bunch Christmas episode.

For today’s Ghost of Christmas Past, we find out what happened to all the Brady kids after they finally left home.  It turns out that they all basically grew up to be losers but, as we learn in 1988’s A Very Brady Christmas, they still have a home for the holidays.

I first saw A Very Brady Christmas last year when it showed up on ABC Family during their 25 Days of Christmas programming.  At the time, I thought it was so saccharine that I was worried that I might get a cavity as a result of watching.  A year later, my opinion hasn’t  changed much but A Very Brady Christmas still has an oddly dream-like feel to it.

Seriously, the Bradys are just so weird.