At the Center Theater
"The Informer" belongs to that remarkably rare category of movies that aspire to real tragedy. The specific time and place of the story become only details in the portrayal of a man who has sold the modern equivalent of his Faustian soul, all his ties with society. For the price of two passages to America, he betrays a friend in the Irish Resistance movement, and as he walks through Dublin at night, afraid of everyone, he becomes a Judas, and a truly tragic figure. While the picture takes him through one night of repentance, drinking, boasting, but mainly fear, we see every side of a man who tries to hide from himself, and finally in death understands his great crime.
The "Judas" theme appears again and again, with the focus always on the death money, which slowly leaves him to give happiness to other people. He gives a blind man a pound, a poor woman five pounds to return to her home in England, and even the money that he throws away boastfully feeds hungry people. Wonderful dramatic scenes highlight the movie-Gyppo, the informer, drops some pieces of silver at the betrayed man's wake. They have not yet begun to suspect, but suddenly Gyppo sees himself as Judas. It is the drama of self-recognition, in which a potentially good man realizes the horror of his own fate.
The musical score gives an added height to this already great motion picture. Max Steiner composed background music that is not only deep and appropriate, but at the most dramatic times intensifies the rhythms of speech, producing an effect that few other movies have paralleled. The visual effects do not try any labored realism, but concentrate on significant details or on impressionistic views of the city, and the implications become those of timelessness as well as reality. Victor McLaglen is the Judas, the Faust, and although his story relates closely to the particular environment, he is the most important factor himself, and could be transplanted to almost any time or place.
Many age-old problems appear around the perimeter of the film's main dramatic theme. A religious allegory, "The Informer" can be thought of in terms of sin and redemption, the redemption coming in the last agonies of death. The end comes in a church, where Gyppo obtains forgiveness from the dead man's mother, and with a cry of what may be ecstasy as well as pain, dies. The psychological, religious, and metaphysical themes are deeply intercating, but on top of everything, "The Informer" is a great and dramatic story.