The screenplay was written by Dudley Nichols from the novel The Informer by Liam O'Flaherty. It was directed by John Ford. It is about a brutish, but well-meaning Irishman, Gypo Nolan (Victor McLaglen), who informs on his best friend Frankie McPhillip (Wallace Ford) who is a member of the Irish Republican Army, in order to collect the reward of £20 and sail to America with his girlfriend Katie Madden (Margot Grahame). The film traces his conscience-stricken emotional disintegration that eventually leads him to give himself away.
The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. McLaglen won the Academy Award for Best Leading Actor for his portrayal of Gypo Nolan, beating out Charles Laughton and Clark Gable for the better-remembered Mutiny on the Bounty, and Ford won for Best Director. Dudley Nichols won the Oscar for Best Writing, but turned it down because of Union disagreements. It was the first time an Oscar was declined.
The film's other awards & nominations;
A presentation copy of the script, originally presented to a Seymour Roman, and signed by many of the prominent cast and crew, was ostensibly found in Madison, Wisconsin among items being cleaned out of an apartment by a landlord. It was brought to the Antiques Roadshow and was appraised for $4,000-$5,000.