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The Man in the White Suit
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The Man in the White Suit (1951) More at IMDbPro »

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The Man in the White Suit -- Alec Guinness has one of his finest comic roles in this Ealing satirical comedy about a much patronized amateur scientist whose latest invention creates an uproar in the British textile industry.
The Man in the White Suit -- Trailer for The Man in the White Suit


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Down 3% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Roger MacDougall (play)
Roger MacDougall (screenplay) ...
View company contact information for The Man in the White Suit on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
April 1952 (USA) See more »
Should they let him play...or should they put him away? See more »
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. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Nominated for Oscar. Another 1 win & 2 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
A lesson in economics and understatement See more (67 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Alec Guinness ... Sidney Stratton

Joan Greenwood ... Daphne Birnley
Cecil Parker ... Alan Birnley

Michael Gough ... Michael Corland

Ernest Thesiger ... 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
Stuart Latham ... Harrison
Miles Malleson ... The Tailor
Edie Martin ... Mrs. Watson
Mandy Miller ... Gladdie
Charlotte Mitchell ... Mill Girl
Olaf Olsen ... Knudsen
Desmond Roberts ... Mannering
Ewan Roberts ... Fotheringay
John Rudling ... Wilson
Charles Saynor ... Pete
Russell Waters ... Davidson
Brian Worth ... King
George Benson ... The Lodger
Frank Atkinson ... The Baker
Charles Cullum ... 1st Company Director
F.B.J. Sharp ... 2nd Company Director
Scott Harold ... Express Reporter
Jack Howarth ... Receptionist At Corland Mill
Jack McNaughton ... Taxi Driver
Judith Furse ... Nurse Gamage
Billy Russell ... Nightwatchman
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
David Boyd ... Office Boy (uncredited)
Alan Haines ... Reporter (uncredited)
Arthur Mullard ... (uncredited)
Carol Wolveridge ... Schoolgirl in Front of Class (uncredited)

Directed by
Alexander Mackendrick 
Writing credits
Roger MacDougall (play)

Roger MacDougall (screenplay) &
John Dighton (screenplay) &
Alexander Mackendrick (screenplay)

Produced by
Michael Balcon .... producer
Sidney Cole .... associate producer
Original Music by
Benjamin Frankel 
Cinematography by
Douglas Slocombe (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Bernard Gribble 
Casting by
Margaret Harper Nelson (uncredited)
Art Direction by
Jim Morahan 
Costume Design by
Anthony Mendleson 
Makeup Department
Barbara Barnard .... hair stylist
Harry Frampton .... makeup artist
Ernest Taylor .... makeup artist
Daphne Martin .... assistant hairdresser (uncredited)
Production Management
Hal Mason .... production supervisor
L.C. Rudkin .... unit production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
David Peers .... assistant director
John Assig .... second assistant director (uncredited)
Terry Bishop .... second unit director (uncredited)
Jim O'Connolly .... third assistant director (uncredited)
Art Department
Norman Dorme .... draughtsman (uncredited)
Andrew Low .... set dresser (uncredited)
Len Wills .... assistant art director (uncredited)
Sound Department
Arthur Bradburn .... recordist
Stephen Dalby .... sound supervisor
Mary Habberfield .... sound editor (uncredited)
Norman King .... chief sound engineer (uncredited)
Cyril Swern .... boom operator (uncredited)
Special Effects by
Sydney Pearson .... special effects
Visual Effects by
Geoffrey Dickinson .... special processes
Camera and Electrical Department
Lionel Banes .... additional photography
Jeff Seaholme .... camera operator
Jack Dooley .... stills (uncredited)
Ted Lockhart .... grip (uncredited)
Bob Penn .... floor stills (uncredited)
Michael Shepherd .... clapper loader (uncredited)
Ken Westbury .... camera assistant (uncredited)
Hugh Wilson .... focus puller (uncredited)
Casting Department
Muriel Cole .... crowd casting (uncredited)
Thelma Graves .... assistant casting (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Ron Beck .... wardrobe assistant: men (uncredited)
Edith Crutchley .... wardrobe assistant: ladies (uncredited)
Ernie Farrer .... wardrobe master (uncredited)
Lily Payne .... wardrobe mistress (uncredited)
Editorial Department
Lionel Selwyn .... assistant editor (uncredited)
Music Department
Ernest Irving .... conductor: The Philharmonia Orchestra
Other crew
Felicia Manheim .... continuity
Geoffrey Myers .... scientific adviser
Christopher Barry .... assistant to producer (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
85 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (RCA Sound System) (Gaumont-Kalee)
Argentina:13 | Australia:G | Finland:S (video rating) (1991) | Finland:K-8 (1959) | Germany:6 | Iceland:L | Netherlands:AL (original rating) (1951) (one cut) | Portugal:M/12 (Qualidade) | Sweden:15 | UK:U | UK:U (video rating) (1989) (2006) | USA:Approved (MPAA rating: certificate #55096) | West Germany:12

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 »
Continuity: 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 »
Sidney Stratton:Oh, it's a better job.
Bertha, Birnley Mill worker:Well then?
Sidney Stratton:Oh, yes, much.
Bertha, Birnley Mill worker:More money?
Sidney Stratton:I shan't actually get paid for it.
Bertha, Birnley Mill worker:What? We'll see about that! Scab labour huh? The work committee better hear about this!
Sidney Stratton:But I don't want to get paid.
Mrs. Watson, Sidney's landlady:Not want to? I don't care whether you want to get paid or not! You've got to get paid!
Bertha, Birnley Mill worker:I don't care whether you want to get paid or not! You've got to get paid!
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)See more »


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10 out of 12 people found the following review useful.
A lesson in economics and understatement, 26 September 2005
Author: Robert J. Maxwell ( from Deming, New Mexico, USA

One of the things that makes this Ealing comedy so outrageously funny is the clever editing. Shots that would be considered absolutely essential to most modern comedies are deliberately left out. (This is what was known as British understatement.)

Three instances: A comic fight is edited like this. Alec Guiness has invented a new cloth that will ruin the industry. Half a dozen businessmen invite him to their office to try to get him to sign a contract relinquishing his control of the cloth so that production can be suppressed. When he catches on to this, Guiness stands up and turns to walk to the door. Two men block his way. "Excuse me," he says quietly, taking a step forward. The two men move between Guiness and the camera. Cut. A secretary is sitting outside at her desk. There is silence until the buzzer begins signaling her frantically. She takes up her notebook and opens the door to the inner office where a full-fledged noisy Donnybrook is in progress and the room is half wrecked. Guiness dashes out the open door.

The following example would be unthinkable today. During the research phase of his invention Guiness sets up an elaborate chemical apparatus but instead of converting the experimental liquid into the new cloth, the device explodes. Again and again it explodes. The laboratory is cleared of all other work. The blasts continue. Ceilings fall down. Windows are blown out. The director of research is seated at his desk in a tiny office cluttered with debris, a bandage on his head. When the door behind him opens he jumps a foot in the air. "Sit down," he tells his visitor, "there's another one due at any moment." It is excruciatingly amusing -- and there is not a single shot of any explosions. This would be unimaginable now without a fireball, and maybe a building collapsing in slow motion.

Last example, consisting of a series of quick, relentless cuts, put together precisely. Guiness is being pursued and is cornered in the lobby of an office building by people who want him to sign the contract. Faced with two men about to grapple with him, Guiness backs up with a determined expression. He bumps against a pedestal with an iron bust on it. The bust topples backward and bumps against the wall. There is a shot lasting about one second of the bust hitting the wall. Another brief shot of a metal shield hung above the bust being jarred loose and falling down. Quick cut to Guiness's head rising into the frame. Cut to the two men staring into the camera while horrible brass banging and thudding sounds are heard off screen. Cut to Guiness flat on his back. Nobody today would have the cojones to NOT show Guiness being crowned by that shield.

I won't go on with this. It's a comedy alright but a pretty bitter one underneath all the hilarity. In solving one set of problems, Guiness has created dozens of others. He is opposed both by management and labor, neither of which is shown to much advantage. And of course the economic implications have to do with more than cloth. "What about that car that runs on water with a pinch of something or other in it?" one of the workers asks. "Vested interests," comments another worker, as Thorstein Veblen nods in his grave. What WOULD happen if our problems with energy were solved overnight? If I owned shares of Exxon -- and I think I do -- I'd shudder at the thought. Where would the oil industry be if there were no more need for oil? For that matter, where would the police force and the FBI be if crime were to suddenly disappear? This is a thoughtful and very amusing movie, superbly directed and edited. The roster of performers is peerless. Joanne Greenwood with that husky voice. The blithering Cecil Parker. The wheezing mummified Ernest Thesiger.

A first-rate job all around.

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