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The Man in the White Suit (1951)

 -  Comedy | Sci-Fi | Drama  -  April 1952 (USA)
7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 5,465 users  
Reviews: 63 user | 45 critic

An altruistic chemist invents a fabric that resists wear and stain as boon to humanity but both capital and labor realize it must be suppressed for economic reasons.

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(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:

First...Explosions! Then Success! Then Chaos! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Sci-Fi | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
Edit

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)

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 Mr. Harrison is called by a woman because he is wanted by Mr. Corland, he is blowing into a glass vial on a side counter which was not there in the previous shot. See more »

Quotes

Daphne Birnley, Alan Birnley's daughter: Thank you Sidney. If you would've said "yes" I could've strangled you!
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Satirical genius from the house of Ealing.
4 March 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Often tagged as a comedy, The Man In The White Suit is laying out far more than a chuckle here and there.

Sidney Stratton is an eccentric inventor who isn't getting the chances to flourish his inventions on the world because nobody pays him notice, he merely is the odd ball odd job man about the place as it were. After bluffing his way into Birnley's textile mill, he uses their laboratory to achieve his goal of inventing a fabric that not only never wears out, but also never needs to be cleaned!. He is at first proclaimed a genius and those who ignored him at first suddenly want a big piece of him, but then the doom portents of an industry going bust rears its head and acclaim quickly turns to something far more scary.

Yes the film is very funny, in fact some scenes are damn hilarious, but it's the satirical edge to the film that lifts it way above the ordinary to me. The contradictions about the advent of technology is a crucial theme here, do we want inventions that save us fortunes whilst closing down industries? You only have to see what happened to the coal industry in Britain to know what I'm on about. The decade the film was made is a crucial point to note, the making of nuclear weapons became more than just hearsay, science was advancing to frighteningly new proportions. You watch this film and see the quick turnaround of events for the main protagonist Stanley, from hero to enemy in one foul swoop, a victim of his own pursuit to better mankind! It's so dark the film should of been called The Man In The Black Suit.

I honestly can't find anything wrong in this film, the script from Roger MacDougall, John Dighton and director Alex Mackendrick could be filmed today and it wouldn't be out of place such is the sharpness and thought of mind it has. The sound and setting is tremendous, the direction is seamless, with the tonal shift adroitly handled by Mackendrick. Some of the scenes are just wonderful, one in particular tugs on the heart strings and brings one to think of a certain scene in David Lynch's Elephant Man some 29 years later, and yet after such a downturn of events the film still manages to take a wink as the genius that is Alec Guinness gets to close out the film to keep the viewers pondering not only the future of Stanley, but also the rest of us in this rapidly advancing world.

A timeless masterpiece, thematically and as a piece of art. 10/10


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