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. Written by
John Oswalt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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 '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.
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