Victor McLaglen won an Oscar from his first Oscar nomination for portraying Gypo Nolan in The Informer.
Victor McLaglen who eventually played many character actor roles as usually a tough Irishman of varying dispositions. It rather interesting to see him here as Gypo Nolan though because Gypo although is still technically formidable physically he is a very unassuming man. It is fascinating to see McLaglen as a very vulnerable man. I think particularly here scene where he meets his old IRA pal. His telling of how he could not kill another man, really shows that Gypo is a simple man who was forced by others to be more brutal than he wanted to be.
I find McLaglen creation of Gypo rather interesting because he makes him such a simple sad man. He is not what I would say as stupid exactly but just simple. He really wants just a good life, but sees things in too simple of fashion. McLaglen creates this almost always drifting character wonderfully. The fact that Gypo informs on his old friend to the British army really is completely natural because the way McLaglen established Gypo as such a man. He did not really even seem to inform on him for Greed but rather that getting 20 pounds from his informing would everything right. Now none of this really said in the film, but I feel McLaglen suggests it all in the sad faced, simple performance Gypo.
After receiving his awards McLaglen shows a more joyful Gypo, combined with a sometimes clear and sometimes silent guilt that slowly grows as his night drinking and spending the money goes. McLaglen creates a fascinating performance of a man who tries to hide his guilt and responsibility with outburst of sadness, with blaming others, and with pleasures gained from the money. McLaglen portrays all of Gypo's conflicting emotions well without overplaying any of them, but always seeming to react in the perfect way which fits Gypo.
The growing guilt and drunkenness are both handled well by McLaglen as they both grow through the night, until finally he is brought to an IRA trial, where his guilt is brought to the forefront, and his drunkenness turns to the pain of a hangover. McLaglen is excellent in this pivotal scene showing both the internal and external pain of Gypo equally well, creating a powerful performance showing the Gypo really just did not know what he was doing when he turned his friend in. I find this is a great performance since he makes a very simple man fascinating, is compelling to follow through his journey during the night, and since he makes Gypo, who did a very bad thing, stay likable. I was on the fence of a 4.5 and 5 but I fell to the latter because the performance has really had a lasting effect on me, and remain quite vivid.