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The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit
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Index 65 reviews in total 

65 out of 74 people found the following review useful:

Beautiful film about abject loneliness

Author: Christopher Peznola from Boston
16 November 2004

Other reviewers have commented that this film is too long, boring, and some have noted that the director was an unknown and incapable. Nothing could be further from the truth, Nunnally Johnson has written, directed and produced many significant films, including the Oscar winning, Three Faces of Eve.

This film's use of subtlety, colors, light and its development of the characters is so powerful that the film leaves its viewer, even today, with an overwhelming feeling of regret. Regret for wasting life on work, worry and the pursuit of happiness, in lieu of actual happiness.

The purpose of a great film is not to entertain, but to evoke emotions that live inside us, but are rarely accessed. This film is one of the greats, for its uncanny ability to, in a timeless way, draw out the futility of modern capitalist life without being obvious or overpowering. You just feel bad, and that's good.

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53 out of 58 people found the following review useful:

A salient commentary on the American executive lifestyle

Author: R Worrell (rhea_worrell@prodigy.net) from Durham, NC
22 October 1999

I was pleased to get a chance to see this movie -- at least half of it -- during a bout of insomnia. The title was a catchphrase for corporate America for many, many years, a kind of symbol for overachieving, aggressive, ambitious businessmen without principles -- in other words, the "suits."

Though I am generally wary of Gregory Peck's (and Jennifer Jones') tendency to niceness, I was impressed by their work here. Their relationship was both substantial and subtle. Jennifer Jones had much much more humanity and integrity than the average housewife portrayed in other films of the 50s and 60s. Peck's character respected her opinions and values.

But I was knocked out by Fredric March. His type A, workaholic executive was touching on many levels. His utter tiredness, alcoholic puffiness, and innate sadness was plastered over with a Willy Loman-like veneer of gung-ho, jolly-good-fellow false heartiness. How familiar that character was and is -- in real life. His ambition, greed and drive had become a habit, and like any junky, he was simply unable to quit. Despite the human losses. I will never forget the scene in his office, when his wife calls him up, and he slowly hangs up the phone.

A very fine film, with many truths about our national character and obsessions....

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46 out of 52 people found the following review useful:

a great movie in need of better editing

Author: Dtkoyzis from Ontario, Canada
11 April 2001

I had trouble finding this film in the local video store but finally saw it on television. It's well worth watching. It's a wonderful commentary on the American suburban corporate culture emerging in the years following the second World War. Peck plays the stereotypical businessman living in Connecticut and taking the New Haven Railroad into New York City each day. He is faced with a number of seemingly mundane dilemmas, such as settling a deceased relative's estate, how to deal with a dissatisfied wife more ambitious than he, whether to switch jobs for better pay, and whether he should tell his new boss what he *needs* rather than *wants* to hear. Hanging over him are the ever-present memories of his wartime combat experience, which intrude on him occasionally – especially during those otherwise empty hours spent commuting on the train.

I disagree with the reviewer who found the film boring apart from the war scenes. One of the reasons why this film works so well is that it regularly jolts the viewer, nearly lulled into complacency by the apparent ordinariness of suburban life, with those sudden flashbacks of the horrors of war. The juxtaposition of these quite different scenes was quite deliberate and speaks volumes in itself. How is it possible for someone who has spent four years both killing and avoiding death to settle into a normal life of family and work? Obviously it's not easy.

Furthermore, death continues to haunt the family in various, almost light-hearted ways, particularly by way of the children who were born after the carnage had ended and for whom death is no more real than the gunfights in those television westerns to which they are so conspicuously addicted. A scene near the beginning has one of the girls suffering from chicken pox, a fairly minor malady, as everyone knows. But she tells her father she has "small pox" and her sister keeps teasing her with the morbid suggestion that she is going to die. The father tells her to stop, but she keeps it up. He knows what death is all about; his children do not.

The term "workaholic" had not yet been coined in 1956, but the contrast between the man who chooses a fuller, less driven life – including time for family – and the man married to his career could not have been more starkly portrayed. The viewers find themselves applauding the choice Peck eventually makes and pitying March for not having done so himself.

I am a great fan of the score's composer, Bernard Herrmann, whose music is uniquely capable of evoking a range of strong emotions in the listener. The music here is typically Herrmann, although it is not as central a "character" in this film as are his scores in, say, "Vertigo" and "Psycho." It is impossible to imagine the latter two films without the music, while this film seems less obviously dependent on its score.

Although I quite liked this film, it is overly long and could have been better edited. The several subplots needed to be better integrated into the whole. What, for example, was the purpose of the challenge to Peck's inheritance, other than to show the persistent salvific role Cobb played in his life? This subplot could easily have been cut and the film would have suffered nothing in terms of its overall impact. In fact, it might have been better for being more tightly constructed.

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47 out of 54 people found the following review useful:

Powerhouse Cast in Fine Drama

9/10
Author: harry-76 from Cleveland, Ohio
14 September 2003

Ten years after Gregory Peck and Jennifer Jones lit up the screen with their torrid love-hate relationship in "Duel in the Sun," they were reunited in this engrossing business-domestic drama.

The two were surrounded by a great cast, headed by Fredric March and Lee J. Cobb, to offer a sincere portrait of a junior Madison Avenue exec who must choose between being a "big CEO" or a "second-tier nine-to-fiver".

Director/screenwriter Nunnaly Johnson guided the actors in uniformly well-modulated performances, all deeply felt and cleanly expressed. Keenan Wynn offered a surprisingly subtle and touching performance as well, in a film produced by Darryl F. Zanuck, with a Bernard Herrmann score.

What a treat it is to watch these fine thespians breathe life into most intriguing characters from Sloan Wilson's thoughtful novel.

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37 out of 43 people found the following review useful:

a movie for all generations

9/10
Author: idtdas from saint charles, il USA
6 February 2004

This film reaches far beyond its time. In every way, shape and form; from the troubles to the triumphs of the protaganist, to the intensity and sincerity of its ethos, this cinematic work is an under exposed classic. It is my hope that this film be rediscovered and in doing so help those lost in a sea of moral relativity to detect delineation. The story cleary exposes the moral and emotional importance of honesty and its consequences. Additionally, the issue of war-time trauma is touched upon and its long-term impact on personal and professional relationships.

The performances by all are outstanding and will resonate with the viewer dramatically. As a gen x'r, I found this film to be a breath of fresh air. I am not alone. I pray that this story will be recirculated - for its impact is profound.

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37 out of 44 people found the following review useful:

Man deals with a new job and an unsatisfied wife

7/10
Author: helpless_dancer from Broken Bow, Oklahoma
10 June 1999

A man, feeling pressure from his wife for a better lifestyle, takes a new job with increased pay but added stress. To make matters worse, he becomes embroiled in legal actions concerning an inheritance from his grandmother. On top of all this, he learns that some of his actions in Italy during World War 2 have come to haunt him. This is a well told story with many sides to it, and I feel the use of flashback went a long way in making it even better. Well worth seeing.

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22 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

An Underrated Melodramatic Masterwork

8/10
Author: Nick Zegarac (movieman-200) from Canada
11 August 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"The Man In The Gray Flannel Suit" (1956) is something we don't get from our cinema-going experiences anymore; an analytic and methodical glimpse into the issues of family strain that either drive us to distraction or build our moral character. The film stars the quintessential man of integrity, Gregory Peck as Tom Rath. He's a congenial good natured gentleman whose career doesn't seem to be living up to the expectations of his wife, Betsy (Jennifer Jones). Prodded by Betsy's nagging, Tom takes on a more lucrative position at an ad agency, then discovers that a part of his almost forgotten past has come back to haunt him. During WWII Tom and fellow soldier buddy, Caesar Gardella (Keenan Wynn) picked up a pair of Italian girls and had some behind-closed-doors fun to alleviate the pressures of war and home sickness. That night results in the birth of an illegitimate child. What to do? Tell Betsy? Go to Italy? See the child? What to do? Working from a masterful bit of authorship by Sloan Wilson, director/writer Nunnelly Johnson has brilliantly conceived a poignant cinematic reflection of a man pushed to the edge of his temperament, who decides to rise to the occasion rather than toss everything he's worked hard for into the ash can. Gregory Peck is the very essence of manly integrity – a stoic charmer that completely satisfies and buttresses the whole film. Yes, the ending is a rather matter-of-fact conclusion to the whole quandary, and in a manner befitting 50s sexual politics, but until then the story functions as something of a zeitgeist for honor, self-reliance and self-reflection in the every man that is sourly lacking in any of our contemporary representations of cinematic masculinity.

The transfer from Fox Home Video is, in a word, marvelous. It's Cinemascope (2:35:1) and glowing from corner to corner in the rich vibrancy of 50s Technicolor. Transitions between scenes suffer from the inherent flaw of all early scope movies (a momentary degradation in color and sudden grainy characteristic). But this is a flaw in the original photography, not the DVD transfer. Colors are rich, sumptuous and bold. Contrast levels are bang on. There are rare hints of film grain, mostly in the war time flashback that uses actual newsreel footage. Contrast levels are also a bit lower than one would expect during these scenes. Overall, the image will surely NOT disappoint. The audio is remixed to stereo and recaptures much of the original vibrancy of six track magnetic stereo. Extras include audio commentaries, trailers and a restoration comparison.

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29 out of 38 people found the following review useful:

A Great Movie That Shows How Empty Our Lives Are

Author: Ronni from California
23 February 2003

It's amazing this film came out of the 50's. It's even more true today, than it was then, now things are so rigidly stratified in our society that people can't even relate to considering being a Workaholic anything other than 'worthwhile' and 'normal'. Rat Race lifestyle, is all America is about now. Misery, stress, alienation, isolation; great material wealth but a dysfunctional society that has made little robots and zombies out of each of us. Remember how vibrant you felt as a child, how full of wonder? Remember being excited about the chance to play with other kids? Now we dread every minute of our lifestyle, yet still smile and say "things are going okay" when asked. What liars we have become. A culture of liars and cruel, vicious people, with plastic smiles frozen on our faces and our deep heartache and longing hidden away. This film shows that America has been on the wrong path for a long time and it's only gotten worse. Great film!! Peck is adequate, but considering the times he lived in, a pretty good performance. It's the writing and the messages of this film that stand out!!

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18 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

9 to 5 Fellows

7/10
Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
14 July 2012

In Connecticut, the former WWII officer Tom Rath (Gregory Peck) and his wife Betsy (Jennifer Jones) are happily married middle class couple with three children. However, they have financial difficulties and Tom commutes every day to Manhattan to work in a charitable organization receiving a low salary.

Tom is tormented by the traumatic experience in war, where he killed seventeen persons including a young German soldier and he occasionally recalls his love affair with the Italian Maria (Marisa Pavan) in 1945.

When Tom inherits his grandmother's house, her former servant claims the real state but using forged document. Meanwhile Tom is hired to work as public relation of a television network and is assigned to write a speech to the owner, Ralph Hopkins (Frederic March). Soon he needs to decide whether he will be a dedicated executive or 9 to 5 fellows. Further, he learns that he has a son with Maria and she is very needy and he needs to choose between telling the truth to Betsy or keep the secret.

"The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit" is a realistic and humanistic drama about choices of an insecure man with a war trauma that frequently haunts him. Tom Rath sometimes is reluctant, thinking in the safety of his family first, but always takes the right decision supported by his beloved wife Betsy. The story has many subplots and one memorable character, Judge Bernstein, performed by Lee J. Cobb. The story is long but never boring. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Homem do Terno Cinzento" ("Man in the Gray Suit")

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23 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Suburbia circa 1950s

7/10
Author: jotix100 from New York
3 March 2005

The novel by Sloan Wilson, in which this film is based, offered an innovative view of the life in a small "bedroom community" in the Connecticut of the 50s. Nunnally Johnson, the director, and adapter, tried to bring the essence of the book to a film that would make sense of the text. At times, Mr. Johnson succeeds, but the film he gave us is a bit dated when one looks at it today.

Granted, some things never change, but the conflicts that made the basis for this melodrama, have been dealt with, more effectively in other, more distinguished films.

If you haven't seen the film, perhaps you should stop here.

In the center of the story we are presented with the epitome of decency: Gregory Peck. This great man was an excellent actor, his honesty exudes from every pore of his body. As Tom Rath, the former Captain of WWII, he has kept a secret that comes to haunt him at a crucial point of his life. Tom is ambitious, but he will not play the game until the kind president of the corporation has a heart to heart talk with him, recognizing Tom is a rare commodity in the business world.

The film offers a view of the complexity that is the corporation, as we knew it then. Greed had not taken over business yet. But what comes across clearly is the ambition of the people in the game of climbing the ladder of success.

Tom is happily married to Betsy, who shows signs that maybe she'll become either an alcoholic, or a Stepford wife. Her life goes into a tail spin because of the reality she must face in accepting what Tom has kept hidden inside. Betsy is not an endearing character; she doesn't elicit our sympathy until the end of the film, in which she comes to accept her lot in life. Jennifer Jones' interpretation of Betsy is not as effective in this film, perhaps because of the direction given by Mr. Johnson.

The cast if first rate. Fredric March and Lee J. Cobb, two of the best all time actors of the American stage and screen give life to both of the characters they play. Seen in the pivotal role of Maria, Marisa Pavan, the gorgeous Italian actress makes an impression on us. Keenan Wynn, also, has a small, but important part in the film.

View this movie as a curiosity piece, as it has lost some of the appeal it might have caused when it first came out.

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