The Informant

The Informant (1935) is on, with Victor McLaglen in the title spot. One of the all time great big guy on celluloid performances. This is one doomed, dark, depressing, taut film. John Ford was about as far from Monument Valley as you can be. I love these flicks about The Troubles, I was raised hearing these stories and loathing the black and tans before I remember loathing anybody. The British machined gunned the people in the streets they told me. Grandpa put money in the hat at the bar. The queen can kiss my Irish arse, he said after a few too many. No one talked much about the IRA, too many bombings. But you knew where the sympathies were. I remember how he smirked when Mountbatten was blown sky high. Up the Republic, my grandfather would say, and sing the Rose o’ Tralee. His voice cracked where the melody soared. I still stop what I’m doing when I hear the song. I did tonight, early in The Informant, when the lad in the street sings it sweetly, almost spooky. The night is foggy and full of black and tans. They pat him down and he never misses a note. Black and Tans. I taste bile saying the words. When Wallace Ford takes down four of them before they he, Una O’Connor screams, but I cheered. Good boy I said. Up the rebels. Then I trailed off into more memories. Back East. Ribbons of green on St Patrick’s Day. Drunken little jigs and a little bit of heaven. There was no wearing the orange in Grandpa Nelligan’s house. He made me promise. I promised. I still don’t. If you swear it once, you swear it forever. A man is only as good as his word, he told me. I nodded childlike, sagely. Up the Republic he said. Up the Republic.

Victor McLaglen as Gypo Nolan.

Victor McLaglen as Gypo Nolan.

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