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The Man in the White Suit (1951)

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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.

Writers:

Roger MacDougall (play), Roger MacDougall (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:
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 Vida Hope ... Bertha
Patric Doonan Patric Doonan ... Frank
Duncan Lamont ... Harry
Harold Goodwin ... Wilkins
Colin Gordon ... Hill
Joan Harben Joan Harben ... Miss Johnson
Arthur Howard Arthur Howard ... Roberts
Roddy Hughes 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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

April 1952 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El hombre del traje blanco See more »

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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:

Ealing Studios See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System) (Gaumont-Kalee)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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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 Hill disturbs Michael Corland at the table, he holds a piece of paper. The paper swaps hands between shots. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

Referenced in Future Schlock (1984) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Lasts forever and never wears out
13 August 2006 | by murraybuesstSee 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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