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The Man in the White Suit (1951)

Approved | | Comedy, Drama, Sci-Fi | 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
...
Alan Birnley
...
Michael Corland
...
Sir John Kierlaw
...
Cranford (as Howard Marion Crawford)
Henry Mollison ...
Hoskins
Vida Hope ...
Bertha
Patric Doonan ...
Frank
...
Harry
...
Wilkins
...
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 | Drama | Sci-Fi

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
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

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 laughs at Sidney's suit]
Sidney Stratton: What's funny about it?
Daphne Birnley, Alan Birnley's daughter: It's just the suit. It looks as if it's wearing you.
Sidney Stratton: It's still a bit luminous but it'll wear off.
Daphne Birnley, Alan Birnley's daughter: Oh, no!
Sidney Stratton: No?
Sidney Stratton: No. Makes you look like a knight in shining armour.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Midsomer Murders: A Tale of Two Hamlets (2003) 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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