The Informer (1935) Review

24 08 2011

Copyright 1935 RKO Radio Pictures

★ ★ ★ ★ 1/2

When you mention the name John Ford, most people are going to think of westerns.  However, this film, which gave the famed director his first of four subsequent Oscars for directing, was not a western at all.  Far from it in fact.

Victor McLaglen plays down on his luck Irishman Gypo Nolan.  A tall, strong fellow, he makes his way as a swindler and all around low-life for the most part.  However, he wants to get out of Ireland and find a better life in the United States with his girlfriend, prostitute Katie Madden (Margot Grahame).  The only problem is that tickets to a better life cost 10 pounds each, an astronomical sum for the broke Gypo.  When delinquent friend Frankie McPhillip (Wallace Ford) arrives in town to visit his family, Gypo sees an opportunity in the 20 pound reward for his relinquishment to the authorities.  After deliberation, Gypo informs on Frankie, who is killed during the assault on his house.  The Sinn Fein realize that Frankie must have been pointed out by an informer and they quickly begin their pursuit for the culprit.  Meanwhile, Gypo spends the evening partying and drinking with his new found riches.  As the money dwindles on his escapades, Gypo becomes more and more caught up in something much worse than he originally expected.

The film won four Academy Awards; they were for Best Director, Best Actor, Best Writing and Best Score.  At first, I thought this movie wasn’t going to be very interesting.  It seemed like a fairly cliched story (at least by today’s standards) and seemed a bit heavy-handed and melodramatic during the first ten or so minutes.  However, as the narrative progressed, I realized how wonderful a film it was.  John Ford’s direction is precise and provides the right amount of suspense for the story.  In return, the script has many surprises and moments of true intrigue.  My favorite part of the film, however, was Victor McLaglen’s amazing turn as Gypo.  He really nails the part and definitely deserved his Oscar statuette for this performance.

Even though this picture is over 75 years old at this point, it still retains all of it’s entertainment value.  I would recommend this movie to classic and modern film lovers alike.

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The King’s Speech (2010) Review

15 06 2011

Copyright See-Saw Films 2010

★ ★ ★ ★

Where to start?  Well, I think Academy Award winners and nominees might be a good place to freshen up the new stock of reviews to come from the back log.  Why not start here with last year’s Best Picture winner The King’s Speech? Sounds like a plan to me.

This was one of the few films last year I actually made it to the theater for.  I hate to say it, but with Netflix, I have become increasingly lazy with the idea of driving to the theater and paying $7 to $8 to watch a picture, but some films are worth seeing on the big screen.  After the well-referred reviews and Oscar nominations this film garnered, I figured it’d be worth the admission.  In the end, it was.

The film revolves around King George VI’s (Colin Firth) reign as monarch of the British Empire beginning in 1936 and primarily focusing on his rule through World War II.  Bertie, as he is referred by friends and family, assumes the throne following the abdication by his elder brother Edward VIII.  Though well brought up to be king, the newly named monarch is worried about his noticeable stammer.  Having been to many specialists for correction over the years, he is quite reluctant to try another; however, at his wife’s behest, he begins sessions with Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), a speech therapist with unique methods.  Their tumultuous relationship as “doctor” and patient, result in a lasting friendship and new found courage for the king.

Winner of four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director and Best Writing, Directly for the Screen, this is a solid film.  Firth and Rush are brilliant in their respective roles, as is Helena Bonham Carter as the Queen Mother.  The direction by Tom Hooper is stagy and textbook, but works for the picture which is driven by performance.  A bit tailored for its eventual Oscar glory, being that it is exactly what the Academy likes to see (historical, period piece, drama), it is still an interesting telling of a truly inspiring story.








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