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Working class Irishmen Lars Hanson (as Gypo Nolan) and Carl Harbord (as Francis McPhillipp) are members of an anti-establishment "Party", where politics is punctuated with gunfire. While maintaining a friendship with his comrade, Mr. Hanson is obviously interested in Mr. Harbord's fickle moll, the lovely Lya de Putti (as Katie Fox). After Harbord kills the local police chief (during a gunfight) he is driven underground; leaving Ms. de Putti free to hook up with Hanson. Then, when Harbord surfaces to visit his mother, Hanson suspects he is seeing de Putti. So, Hanson becomes "The Informer", hounded by detective Warwick Ward (as Dan Gallagher).
Fascinating, superb direction from Arthur Robison, and gorgeous photography from Theodor Sparkuhl and Werner Brandes, highlight this undiscovered classic. Director Robison and crew are always moving the picture; even a background window is filled - if only with the shadows of passing figures. The crowds of people are a moving backdrop for the film's atmospheric array of shadows, alleys, streets, police, and prostitutes. Although "The Informer" is labeled "A British International Picture", it might more accurately be described as a "German Film Noir".
John Ford re-made "The Informer" in 1935; and, obviously, he was influenced by this version. Heavily accented leading players Hanson (Swedish) and de Putti (Hungarian) found their film careers killed by talking pictures, regrettably. Their performances are excellent
... then ...
After about 45 minutes, the film changes from "silent" to "talking". The switch works as a dramatic device; although, it certainly couldn't have been planned by cast and crew. More probably, the studio ordered the change, as the popularity of all-silent films plummeted. The decision might have been a sound one; however, the voices dubbing Hanson and de Putti are inadequate.
A restoration of "The Informer", with improved dubbing, could remedy the situation. The eerie "your mother has forgiven me" ending, with Hanson achieving Salvation, must remain, however. If, for some reason, you feel inclined to leave this version of "The Informer" unfinished, don't dare miss the last few minutes of work from actor Hanson and director Robison.
********* The Informer (10/17/29) Arthur Robison ~ Lars Hanson, Lya de Putti, Warwick Ward, Carl Harbord
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