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The Man in the White Suit (1951)

Approved | | Comedy, Drama, Sci-Fi | April 1952 (USA)
2:46 | Trailer

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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.


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



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Cranford (as Howard Marion Crawford)
Vida Hope ...
Patric Doonan ...
Joan Harben ...
Miss Johnson
Arthur Howard ...
Roddy Hughes ...


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


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


Comedy | Drama | Sci-Fi


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

April 1952 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El hombre del traje blanco  »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,874, 18 November 2012, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$8,265, 27 January 2013
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System) (Gaumont-Kalee)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Alec Guinness performed the stunt of climbing down the side of the mansion. He was convinced by a technician, that the piano wire holding him up would not break, since only piano wire with kinks in it would be prone to breaking. As he got to about four feet from the ground, the wire did in fact break. See more »


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


[first lines]
Alan Birnley: Now that calm and sanity have returned to the textile industry, I feel it my duty reveal something of the true story behind the recent crisis, a story which we were able, happily, to keep out of the newspapers at the time.
See more »


Featured in Film Extra: Alec Guiness (1973) See more »

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User Reviews

Satirical genius from the house of Ealing.
4 March 2008 | by 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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