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'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.
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.
The influence of F. W. Murnau on Ford is quite ostensible here, especially in the ending scene and the death of Frankie. I dare say this is one of John Ford's most Expressionist films, and incidentally, one of his best films. The cinematography is mesmerising to boot. It's easy to see how this part of Ford's repertoire in particular influenced so many other filmmakers.