Thursday, February 28, 2013

Double Feature: The Informer (1935) & Ruggles of Red Gap (1935)

The Informer (1935) - ***1/2

John Ford's drama takes place during Irish rebellion and follows Gypo Nolan (Victor McLaglen), a desperate ex-IRA member with no money left. In a moment of hasty decision making, he turns in his rebel friend for a 20 pound reward. He is forced to cover his guilt, but it proves too difficult to bear. As his money dwindles, his IRA friends are close to discovering the truth, and he must answer for what he has done. McLaglen's Oscar-winning performance is equal parts hammy and emotionally resonating, and the film's nod to German Expressionism gives it an appropriately ominous look. Released during the early stages of the Golden Age of Hollywood, it's not surprising that this film struck a chord with Oscar voters at the time.

The film received Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Screenplay, Best Film Editing, and Best Score. It won awards for Best Director, Best Actor, Best Screenplay, and Best Score.

Trivia: Due to union disagreements, screenwriter Dudley Nichols refused his Oscar, becoming the first person to do so. However, he accepted his Oscar statuette within the next 10 years.

Ruggles of Red Gap (1935) - ***1/2

This classic film is a star vehicle for Charles Laughton, who plays an English butler named Marmaduke Ruggles. When his master gambles him away on vacation in Paris, Ruggles is sent to America to live in Washington. His new masters are a rowdy, easygoing Western man and his prim and proper wife. In his new home, Ruggles makes friends and becomes more outgoing and confident. Just as he is getting accustomed to his new life, his former master comes to take him back to England. Loyalty and tradition struggle with individualism, as Ruggles must choose between serving his master or continuing on his own path. A forgotten gem with a lovable performance by Laughton, this was a deserving Oscar nominee.

The film received a single Oscar nomination for Best Picture. It lost, but the film did receive accolades from the National Board of Review and the New York Film Critics Circle in addition to its Oscar nod.

Trivia: One of three 1935 Best Picture nominees starring Charles Laughton. The others were Les Misérables and Mutiny on the Bounty, which won Best Picture.


  1. I'm loving these beautifully written, concise reviews. The Informer sounds quite interesting to me, even if McLaglen's performance is hammy as often as it is compelling.

    1. Thanks so much! :) The acting style goes with the territory, but I'd recommend it, especially since it sounds interesting to you.

  2. Charles Laughton is such a good actor. My fav scene in Ruggles of Red Gap is when he recites the Gettysburg Address.

    I hope audiences weren't sick of him during 1935 award season :) For me, he was also the best thing about Witness for the Prosecution. Any other Laughton must-sees?

    1. That's a wonderful scene. :)

      Haha, who knows?

      Laughton gives great performances in The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Mutiny on the Bounty. His performance in Hobson's Choice is good too. I've also heard good things about his work in Advise & Consent, and I still need to see his Oscar-winning performance in The Private Life of Henry VIII.

    2. Laughton's been in quite a bit, I'll have to look those up, thanks

    3. No problem! Hope you like what you find.