(On Cable TV, December 2018) An early Oscar favourite, The Informer is director John Ford’s look at 1922 Dublin, gripped in the fractious Irish War of Independence. Our protagonist is a flawed character who sees, in informing about a friend, a way to get tickets to America for him and his girlfriend. Things don’t turn out as planned. As befits such a sombre tale, the atmosphere of the film is fog-shrouded, bridging the transition between German expressionism and American film noir. Victor McLaglen plays our flawed hero, someone whose imperfections prevent him from doing the right or the best thing—he was given an Academy Award for the role. While some of the material feels overly blunt, there is still something very confident in the use of split-screen optical effect for storytelling purposes, giving us a glimpse in the characters’ inner thoughts. You can seek The Informer because it’s a John Ford movie, or because it’s an Academy Award Best Picture nominee, but it’s surprisingly engaging at time, and a counterpoint to the belief that early Hollywood played nicely with its characters and film endings.