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The Man in the White Suit (1951)

Approved | | Comedy, Sci-Fi, Drama | April 1952 (USA)
An altruistic chemist invents a fabric which resists wear and stain as a boon to humanity, but both big business and labor realize it must be suppressed for economic reasons.

Writers:

(play), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Sidney Stratton
...
Daphne Birnley
Cecil Parker ...
Alan Birnley
...
Michael Corland
...
Sir John Kierlaw
Howard Marion-Crawford ...
Cranford (as Howard Marion Crawford)
Henry Mollison ...
Hoskins
Vida Hope ...
Bertha
Patric Doonan ...
Frank
Duncan Lamont ...
Harry
Harold Goodwin ...
Wilkins
Colin Gordon ...
Hill
Joan Harben ...
Miss Johnson
Arthur Howard ...
Roberts
Roddy Hughes ...
Green
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Storyline

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 <jao@jao.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Guinness is Back...Working Wonders With Wile, Whimsey and Wit! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Sci-Fi | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

April 1952 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

L'homme au complet blanc  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$3,874 (USA) (16 November 2012)

Gross:

$8,265 (USA) (25 January 2013)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System) (Gaumont-Kalee)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The strange noises made by the laboratory apparatus were created by uncredited sound editor Mary Habberfield and produced for the sound track by a tuba and a bassoon. See more »

Goofs

When Hill disturbs Michael Corland at the table, he holds a piece of paper. The paper swaps hands between shots. See more »

Quotes

Mrs. Watson, Sidney's landlady: Why can't you scientists leave things alone? What about my bit of washing when there's no washing to do?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Just a Minute: Episode #2.2 (1994) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Lasts forever and never wears out
13 August 2006 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

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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