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The Informer (1935 film)

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The Informer (1935 film)

The Informer
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Ford
Produced by John Ford
Screenplay by Dudley Nichols
Based on The Informer 
by Liam O'Flaherty
Starring Victor McLaglen
Heather Angel
Preston Foster
Margot Grahame
Wallace Ford
Una O'Connor
Music by Max Steiner
Cinematography Joseph H. August
Edited by George Hively
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures (USA)
Release dates
  • May 9, 1935 (1935-05-09) (USA)
Running time 91 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $243,000[1]
Box office $950,000[1]

The Informer is a 1935 dramatic film, released by RKO. The plot concerns the underside of the Irish War of Independence, set in 1920. It stars Victor McLaglen, Heather Angel, Preston Foster, Margot Grahame, Wallace Ford, Una O'Connor and J. M. Kerrigan. The screenplay was written by Dudley Nichols from the novel The Informer by Liam O'Flaherty. It was directed by John Ford. The novel had previously been adapted for a British film The Informer (1929).

Along with Mutiny on the Bounty, The Informer was a big contender at the 8th Academy Awards, competing directly in all six categories they were nominated for (though Mutiny got eight nominations in total, given its three Best Actor nominations). Though Mutiny on the Bounty ended up winning Best Picture, The Informer did win every other nominations except for Best Film Editing; Best Director for Ford, Best Actor for McLaglen, Best Writing Screenplay for Nichols, and Best Score.


In 1922 Dublin, Gypo Nolan (Victor McLaglen) has been kicked out of the outlaw Irish Republican Army (IRA) for not executing a Black and Tan who killed an IRA man. He becomes angry when he sees his streetwalker girlfriend Katie Madden (Margot Grahame) trying to pick up a customer. After he throws the man into the street, Katie laments that she does not have £10 for passage to America to start afresh.

Gypo later runs into his friend and IRA comrade Frankie McPhillip (Wallace Ford), a fugitive with a £20 bounty on his head. Frankie, tired of hiding for six months, is on his way home to visit his mother (Una O'Connor) and sister Mary (Heather Angel) under cover of the foggy night. The slow-witted Gypo decides to turn informer for the £20 reward, enough for passage to America for the both of them. The Black and Tans find Frankie at his house, and Frankie is killed in the ensuing gunfight. The British contemptuously give Gypo his blood money and let him go.

Gypo subsequently buys a bottle of whiskey and tells Katie that he obtained money by beating up an American sailor. He goes to Frankie's wake, and acts suspiciously when coins fall out of his pocket. The men there tell him that they do not suspect Gypo of informing, but he then meets with several of his former IRA comrades, who wonder who informed on Frankie. Gypo claims it was a man named Mulligan (Donald Meek). Though Gypo is drunk and talking nonsense, the others begin to suspect him but do not have enough evidence as yet. Gypo leaves and give out £1 notes to a blind man (D'Arcy Corrigan) and some bar patrons, but people wonder why he had such a sudden influx of cash. Meanwhile, Mary tells the IRA that the only person Frankie talked to that day was Gypo, and the men intend to hold an inquest into the death.

Gypo goes to an upper-class party to look for Katie, but gets drunk and buys rounds of drinks. Gypo is then taken away by his former IRA comrades when they figure out it was him. He is taken to a kangaroo court, where Mulligan is questioned and is accused once again by Gypo. However, the comrades do not believe Gypo, and give him a detailed accounting of where he spent his entire £20 reward. Gypo then confesses to ratting out Frankie.

Gypo is locked up, but before he can be executed, he escapes through a hole in the ceiling. He runs to Katie's apartment, where he tells her that he informed on Frankie. Katie goes to see the commissioner who presided over the trial, Dan Gallagher (


The film was popular at the box office and earned a profit of $325,000.[1]

Awards and nominations

Academy Awards – 1935

The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, winning four. McLaglen won Best Actor for his portrayal of Gypo Nolan, beating out Charles Laughton, Clark Gable, and Franchot Tone for the better-remembered Mutiny on the Bounty, and Ford won Best Director. Dudley Nichols won Best Writing, Screenplay, but turned it down because of union disagreements. It was the first time an Oscar was declined.[2] The film also won the Oscar for Best Score; Max Steiner won for the first time. The film was nominated for Outstanding Production,[3] as well as for Best Film Editing.

Award Result Winner
Outstanding Production Nominated RKO Radio (John Ford, Producer)
Winner was Mutiny on the Bounty (MGM) (Irving Thalberg and Albert Lewin, Producers)
Best Director Won John Ford
Best Actor Won Victor McLaglen
Best Writing, Screenplay Won Dudley Nichols
Best Film Editing Nominated George Hively
Winner was Ralph DawsonA Midsummer Night's Dream
Best Music (Scoring) Won Max Steiner

The film's other awards and nominations:

Adaptations in other media

The Informer was adapted as a radio play on the July 10, 1944, and October 17, 1950, episodes of The Screen Guild Theater, the March 28, 1948, episode of the Ford Theatre. On the Academy Award Theater's May 25, 1946, episode, McLaglen reprised his role.


  1. ^ a b c Jewel, Richard. 'RKO Film Grosses: 1931-1951', Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television, Vol 14 No 1, 1994, p55.<--publisher & place?-->
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science". Academy. Retrieved 2008-03-28. 

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