‘Informer’ added to US film registry, 83 years on

An 83-year-old Oscar-winning movie about a former IRA man desperate to escape his bleak Dublin life has been inducted into the National Film Registry in the United States.

‘Informer’ added to US film registry, 83 years on

An 83-year-old Oscar-winning movie about a former IRA man desperate to escape his bleak Dublin life has been inducted into the National Film Registry in the United States.

The Informer, adapted from a novel by Irish writer Liam O’Flaherty, won four Oscars for director John Ford, actor Victor McLaglen, and Max Steiner’s score at the eighth Academy Awards in 1936.

The movie was added to the US film registry run by the Library of Congress in Washington alongside Brokeback Mountain, Jurassic Park, and My Fair Lady.

Selection to the registry ensures the films will be preserved for all time because of their cultural, historic, and aesthetic importance to the nation’s film heritage.

Along with Mutiny on the Bounty, The Informer, which was set in Dublin in 1922, was a major contender in the 1936 Oscars, with nominations in six categories. However, acclaimed screenwriter Dudley Nichols caused a stir when he became the first nominee to decline his Oscar for The Informer for his adaptation of O’Flaherty’s book about the Irish War of Independence.

Nichols snubbed the award as an act of solidarity with the Writers Guild, which was striking at the time. He was elected president of the writer’s guild a few years later.

Since Dudley’s historic stance, a plethora of actors and directors have gone on to boycott at the prestigious award ceremony including Marlon Brando, Michael Caine, Elizabeth Taylor, Woody Allen, and Will Smith.

Since 1989, 25 films have been inducted to the registry. This year’s films span 107 years, from 1898 to 2005 bringing the number of films in the registry to 750.

The Library of Congress, which is the largest library in the world, serves as the research arm of the US Congress.

Another iconic Irish film, The Quiet Man, was inducted to the registry three years ago. The Library of Congress reveals it was budgeted at $1.75m and was one of most expensive pictures ever made by the studio (in Technicolor) and the first filmed outside the US.

The essay in the library added: “The film is not only Ford’s Irish-American vision, but also a revealing expression of his Catholicism”.

It describes the west of Ireland movie nominated for seven Oscars as a “truly a transcendent film”.

The Informer is the 11th film directed by John Ford to be named to the registry, the most of any other director.

A poster for John Ford’s 1935 drama ‘The Informer’ starring Victor McLaglen and Heather Angel. (Photo by Movie Poster Image Art/Getty Images
A poster for John Ford’s 1935 drama ‘The Informer’ starring Victor McLaglen and Heather Angel. (Photo by Movie Poster Image Art/Getty Images

A place on the list — always made up of 25 films — guarantees the film will be preserved under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act.

The criteria for selection are that the movies are “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant.

“The National Film registry turns 30 this year and for those three decades, we have been recognising, celebrating and preserving this distinctive medium,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden.

These cinematic treasures must be protected because they document our history, culture, hopes and dreams.

The titles are chosen from public suggestions sent to the Library of Congress website and in consultation with the National Film Preservation Board.

Brokeback Mountain has the distinction of becoming the newest film on the registry.

“I didn’t intend to make a statement with Brokeback Mountain,’” said director Ang Lee.

“I simply wanted to tell a purely Western love story between two cowboys.

“To my great surprise, the film ended up striking a deep chord with audiences.

“I hope that this film, a small movie with wide open spaces, continues to express something both fresh and fundamental about my adopted country.”

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