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Plot: Sidney Stratton, a humble inventor, develops a fabric which never gets dirty or wears out. This would seem to be a boon for mankind, but the established garment manufacturers don't see it that way; they try to suppress it. Runtime: 85 mins Release Date: 31 Dec 1950
Lasts forever and never wears out (by murraybuesst)
For me this is Ealing Studio's most perfect film - as fresh and relevant half a century later as it was the day it was released.As a satire on economic notions of 'growth' and the commercial need for in-built obsolescence, it could scarcely be more up-to-the-minute. And of what other film can it be said that the hero literally wears the plot?Oddly, there are parallels with Jurassic Park, in which messing with the environment will literally turn round and bite you. But Spielberg shied away from the book's brilliant central conceit to tack on some nonsense about <more>
'children'. Hmmm.In The Man In The White Suit, Alec Guiness plays an idealistic young scientist who comes up with a cloth that never gets dirty and never wears out. Suddenly workers and capital at the northern English mill where he is working are united as never before in protection of their livelihoods.Of course, being Ealing, it's a comedy, but it needn't have been. The complex interplay of vested should that be suited? interests plays out beautifully, as one by one all parties realize that 'progress' is a threat, and that disposability and waste are what keep the looms turning.But, yes, this is a comedy - albeit a pointed one - and amid the political ironies are delicious performances, and some good old-fashioned knock-about laughs.Nonetheless, it's the biting satire that endures - dazzling and white.
Such innocent idealism: so subtle, sad and perfect! (by maece)
Contains *spoilers* - also, my quotes may not be exact.Everyone always notes the satire in social commentary and economic parallels - how true. But to me, I see this movie as much more than that. I love the symbolism of this guy in a glowing white suit. There is so much confusion and filth in the world around him, but it won't stick. Alec Guiness was the perfect guy to play this - his boyish grins and eternal curiousity are so appropriate:"That's ingenious - can you tell me, what is the ratio of ink to petrol?"The only moment of defeat is when he realizes that his invention <more>
hasn't worked after all - standing there almost naked. Yet, more than shame is the simple disappointment that "it didn't work." He's never really intimidated by people. Remember,"But Sidney, we want to stop it too."Barely a moments hesitation before he's off trying to get away again. Does he show any sign of the pain such a betrayal must've caused? No.Also notable is Dapne's role. She is sick and tired of money and power. She thinks she's finally found love, outside of her father's company. At first she doesn't really care about Sidney anymore than anyone else. But that moment when he falls off her car and she goes back to see if maybe she killed him - and yet he is still thinking only of the beauty of his invention. She's finally found something she thinks is worth living for. The funny thing is that it's not even romance. It is friendship, but of such an ephemeral nature that the title almost doesn't fit. It's more admiration, and perhaps even inspiration.Upon her discovery that Michael has no real love for her, and that her father is completely incompetent to take care of her, she gives into cynicism and tries to temp Sidney. Fortunately she finds that there really are people in this world living for more than power, money and lust. What a refreshment:"Thank you Sidney. If you would've said 'yes' I think I'd have strangled you."I love the very end, when all of this crazy business seems to have come to nothing. But then, the bubbly, quirky beat starts up and Sidney goes off, his stride matching the tune: dauntless. Where is Daphne? We don't really know - but they weren't really in love and she wasn't really a scientist. He got help escaping and she got "a shot in the arm of hope." Pollyanna A cont'd relationship would've been nice, but as Billy Joel says "it's more than I'd hoped for..."
Once more, Ealing delivers with a deceptively slight, wonderful film (by HenryHextonEsq)
An unassuming, subtle and lean film, "The Man in the White Suit" is yet another breath of fresh air in filmic format from Ealing studios. While I suspect some modern viewers may initially find it obscure, I doubt many would fail to be charmed by the expert way the plot, the themes and characters are languidly relayed during the film's course.The genuinely great Alec Guinness gives another fine characterization in a film perhaps not as obviously virtuoso as Ealing's inspired "Kind Hearts and Coronets" from 1949. This time, he merely plays one character rather than <more>
eight, but as the unworldly inventor and scientist Sidney Stratton, he always finds the correct tone and expression. Along with Guinness' subtle, expressive performance, the rest of the cast are effective. Of the main players, Cecil Parker and Ernest Thesiger do stand out. Thesiger is compellingly absurd as the crippled but influential business grandee, while Parker is dependable as the ineffectual yet pivotal mill owner and father. Father, that is, of Joan Greenwood, the deftly delectable comic actress, who is at her insurmountable peak in this film. Resplendent and seductive of aspect and diction, she is quite sublime in this film, a fine contrast with the similarly unusual, but more maladroit Guinness. The scene where she seemingly tries to tempt him is played so adeptly by the pair that it is both deeply poignant and amusing...The themes are handled very effectively, with no easy morals drawn. The complexities of the relationships between science, business and the workforce are insightfully and enjoyably examined. Expertly helmed by Alexander Mackendrick, this film is technically adept in all areas; evocative photography, fitting sound effects and music and a wistful script, all quietly impress. A thoroughly satisfying film, with Guinness and Greenwood magnificent.Rating:- **** 1/2/*****
When I learned of Sir Alec Guinness' death, this was the first of his many films I thought of re-seeing. What a wonderful droll commentary the film provides even after all these years. And Guinness helps to weave the charm into every frame. His eyes and face are as luminous as that white suit he wears. Both he and the film have to be considered lifetime favorites.
"You can't fire me - I don't work here!" (by The_Secretive_Bus)
In my mind the best of the Ealing comedies and one of my favourite films of all time. The theme of workers v. management with lots of talk of unions and rights perhaps dates the film a bit now as it's no longer a subject discussed all that much but that doesn't stop "White Suit" from being a show stopping classic.The plot, about a man trying to create a revolutionary new fabric which ends up putting the textiles industry into turmoil, doesn't sound exciting when written down but the film retains that essential spark of fantasy mixed with reality that marks it out as a <more>
true Ealing comedy. The fabric repels dirt and can never wear out! The titular white suit that Alec Guinness wears throughout the second half becomes the centrepiece for several iconic images and sequences, such as Guinness being able to use his indestructible thread to scale a sheer wall! The script itself is full of dry wit - "Is he all right?" "Yes." "Pity." - and characterisation is first rate. I'm always astonished by the wonderful direction in these films as well. Comedies of later eras would adopt a "point the camera at the actors and let it roll" mentality but the Ealing films always attempted interesting lighting and angles and innovations. This film is no exception.Of course, it's the cast that lifts the material to dizzying heights. Alec Guinness gives a fantastically understated performance, with eyes that convey wonder, joy and crushing defeat whenever the story demands it. Stratton is a man oblivious to everything except his work. Such an insular character could quickly have become boring or irritating but Guinness effortlessly makes him likable, so much so that the closing stages of the film generate a real sense of urgency as Stratton tries to come out on top in a world that wants to bury everything he's ever worked for. Joan Greenwood plays another of her strong female roles and is an absolute delight to watch as usual, as are befuddled Cecil Parker and slimy Michael Gough; everybody gets laughs without even trying to. It's comical British understatement at its finest."The Man in the White Suit" is 81 minutes of sheer brilliance, with a great plot, great cast, sparkling wit and healthy dollops of cynicism. Absolutely top notch.
Although most Americans have little knowledge of his work other than Star Wars, Alec Guinness produced an amazing body of work--particularly in the 1940s-1950s--ranging from dramas to quirky comedies. I particularly love his comedies, as they are so well-done and seem so natural and real on the screen--far different from the usual fare from Hollywood.This being said, this was the film that sparked my interest in these movies. It's plot was so odd and cute that it is very unlikely the film would have been made anywhere--except for Ealing Studios--which had a particular fondness for <more>
"little" films like this one.Guinness is a nerdy little scientist that works for a textile company. He wants to experiment in order to create a synthetic fabric that is indestructible, though he is not working for the company as a researcher but for janitorial work! So, he tends to sneak into labs either during the day if no one suspects or at night and try his hand at inventing. Repeatedly, he is caught such as after he blew up the lab and given the boot until one day he actually succeeds! Then, despite the importance of the discovery, he sets off a completely unanticipated chain of events--and then the fun begins.The film is a wonderful satire that pokes fun at industry, unions, the government and people in general.
I can't say whether the post-WWII British comedies produced at the Ealing Studios are an acquired taste or not, but I am completely addicted, and The Man in the White Suit is one of the best. No need to go into the well-known plot about the threat posed to both the textile industry and the textile unions by an indestructible, dirt-resistant fiber. Suffice it to say that the slings and arrows suffered by the naively idealistic Sidney Stratton in pursuing his polymer vision make for a comedic delight. Many of the well-known faces from the world of British character actors - the nervous <more>
Cecil Parker, the suavely devious Michael Gough, and the bluntly ruthless Ernest Thesinger - put in wonderful performances. Guinness - as always and forever - is superb, and Joan Greenwood is delectable as Daphne just the way she enunciates the word "Daddy", makes the entire movie worth seeing ."Knudsen!!!!!!!"
The Man in the White Suit is one of those delightful comedies that Ealing studies made so well in the 40's and 50's. The plot of this one follows a man that invents a cloth that neither gets dirty nor breaks. Of course, this is a huge breakthrough in the world of textiles. However, things are not that simple as the cloth will threaten the way of life of many people, including cloth manufacturers, the cloth mill's workforces, and even an old lady that does her washing every week. The Man in the White Suit is a film about scientific advances, and the way that they don't always <more>
help; as the old woman says at one point in the movie, "Why cant you scientists just leave things alone?"Like a lot Ealing comedies, this one stars Sir Alec Guinness. Alec Guinness is a fantastic actor; he has the ability to light up the screen with his presence and he does in this film, literally , but he also manages to portray his characters in a down to earth and believable way. He is suitably creepy in this film, and he captures just the right atmosphere for his character; an intelligent and ambitious, but slightly naive scientist. Along with Guinness, The Man in the White Suit also features Joan Greenwood, the deep voiced actress that co-starred with Guinness in the simply divine "Kind Hearts and Coronets" and Michael Gough, a man that would go on to get himself the role of Alfred in the Batman films. The acting in the film isn't always great, but it is always decent, and it's fits with the film.The Man in the White Suit is an intelligent, thought-provoking and witty comedy with a moral. The comedy isn't always obvious, and it doesn't always work, but the film is not meant to be a film that provokes belly laughs, so that is forgivable. I recommend this movie, basically, to anyone that is a fan of movies.
A lesson in economics and understatement (by rmax304823)
One of the things that makes this Ealing comedy so outrageously funny is the clever editing. Shots that would be considered absolutely essential to most modern comedies are deliberately left out. This is what was known as British understatement. Three instances: A comic fight is edited like this. Alec Guiness has invented a new cloth that will ruin the industry. Half a dozen businessmen invite him to their office to try to get him to sign a contract relinquishing his control of the cloth so that production can be suppressed. When he catches on to this, Guiness stands up and turns to walk to <more>
the door. Two men block his way. "Excuse me," he says quietly, taking a step forward. The two men move between Guiness and the camera. Cut. A secretary is sitting outside at her desk. There is silence until the buzzer begins signaling her frantically. She takes up her notebook and opens the door to the inner office where a full-fledged noisy Donnybrook is in progress and the room is half wrecked. Guiness dashes out the open door.The following example would be unthinkable today. During the research phase of his invention Guiness sets up an elaborate chemical apparatus but instead of converting the experimental liquid into the new cloth, the device explodes. Again and again it explodes. The laboratory is cleared of all other work. The blasts continue. Ceilings fall down. Windows are blown out. The director of research is seated at his desk in a tiny office cluttered with debris, a bandage on his head. When the door behind him opens he jumps a foot in the air. "Sit down," he tells his visitor, "there's another one due at any moment." It is excruciatingly amusing -- and there is not a single shot of any explosions. This would be unimaginable now without a fireball, and maybe a building collapsing in slow motion.Last example, consisting of a series of quick, relentless cuts, put together precisely. Guiness is being pursued and is cornered in the lobby of an office building by people who want him to sign the contract. Faced with two men about to grapple with him, Guiness backs up with a determined expression. He bumps against a pedestal with an iron bust on it. The bust topples backward and bumps against the wall. There is a shot lasting about one second of the bust hitting the wall. Another brief shot of a metal shield hung above the bust being jarred loose and falling down. Quick cut to Guiness's head rising into the frame. Cut to the two men staring into the camera while horrible brass banging and thudding sounds are heard off screen. Cut to Guiness flat on his back. Nobody today would have the cojones to NOT show Guiness being crowned by that shield.I won't go on with this. It's a comedy alright but a pretty bitter one underneath all the hilarity. In solving one set of problems, Guiness has created dozens of others. He is opposed both by management and labor, neither of which is shown to much advantage. And of course the economic implications have to do with more than cloth. "What about that car that runs on water with a pinch of something or other in it?" one of the workers asks. "Vested interests," comments another worker, as Thorstein Veblen nods in his grave. What WOULD happen if our problems with energy were solved overnight? If I owned shares of Exxon -- and I think I do -- I'd shudder at the thought. Where would the oil industry be if there were no more need for oil? For that matter, where would the police force and the FBI be if crime were to suddenly disappear? This is a thoughtful and very amusing movie, superbly directed and edited. The roster of performers is peerless. Joanne Greenwood with that husky voice. The blithering Cecil Parker. The wheezing mummified Ernest Thesiger. A first-rate job all around.