Ford under the influence of Murnau, but also downright Langian in its underworld and cruel mousetrap of inevitability. This is surely one of Ford's saddest films, a look at the delusions of alcoholism and what money means to a community that has none. It sheds light on his rosier work—his cinema is best when he acknowledges the dark side of his just-plain-folk. Either it's one of his best, or I'm a cynical bastard.
It would be interesting to compare this movie to Lang's "M" since they share some qualities (the judgement scene near the end reminds one of "M" automatically), but diverge completely as a whole: Lang believes in the strength of Evil and condemns every character of his film; Ford, on the other hand, believes in the strenght of Good and redeems his protagonist. I find Evil (and therefore Lang) much more compelling.
An incredibly atmospheric moral tragedy. The ever-present fog and Ford’s chiaroscuro lighting obfuscate as much as liquor and politics. I was also impressed by how well both an early action sequence and Victor McLaglen’s intense performance have aged.
It's interesting to see the splitting of roles between women (total forgiveness, "let there be no more death") and men (the condescending "sure, it's hard, but we need to do this") that suddenly gets confused: the men of the IRA aren't so resolute when they have to execute someone, which is what got Gypo in trouble in the first place. Only the ultimate forgiveness of the ultimate woman can restore the moral order.
Ford does it again. I love his stories set in Ireland. This has a tension throughout the film that everyone except the drunken main character can feel. An early 30s gem from one of the masters. 4.5 stars
The book is very different but I understand the changes that Ford made. In the book, Gypo's girl was no friend to him. In the movie she is much more sympathetic. I guess Ford needed someone to plead for his anti-hero.