The Man in the White Suit
Michael Balcon for Ealing/The Rank Organisation
directed by Alexander Mackendrick
starring Alec Guiness, Joan Greenwood, Cecil Parker, Michael Gough, Ernest Thesiger, Howard Marion Crawford, Henry Mollison, Vida Hope, Patric Doonan, Duncan Lamont, Harold Goodwin, Colin Gordon, Joan Harben, Arthur Howard, Roddy Hughes, Stuart Latham, Miles Malleson, Edie Martin, Mandy Miller, Charlotte Mitchell, Desmond Roberts, John Rudling, Charles Saynor, Russell Waters, Brian Worth, George Benson, Frank Atkinson
screenplay by John Dighton, Roger MacDougall, Alexander Mackendrick, based on the play by Roger MacDougall, music by Benjamin Frankel
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Straton (Alec Guiness) is a brilliant mind who wants to develop a
textile fabric that won't get dirty or wear out, but sadly enough, no
textile manufacturer seems to believe in his ideas ... so Stratton
regularly takes low jobs in textile compnanies, & whenever there's
time he sneaks into their respective labs to work on his formula - &
with great regularity he is fired for his behaviour.
Then though he works at Birnley's (Cecil Parker) company, & somehow
his invention catches the eye of Birnley's daughter Daphne (Joan
Greenwood), who wants to get back at her father for not having helped her
finacé Michael (Michael Gough) & somehow manages to force daddy to
employ Stratton as chief lab technician, who gets everything he wants to
develop his new fabric ... but the development at first produces little
more than regular explosions.
One day though, Stratton succeeds, & soon he promenades around in
his first new white suit (hence the title - only to suddenly find himself
being chased by everyone: textile manufacturer Birnley - who has no
intentions to market the fabric as it would discourage people from buying
textiles once the ones they have don't catch dirt or wear out -, Birnley's
rivals - who think withthe fabric Birnley would have an unfair advantage -
and the union - who, thanks to Birnley's well-meaning colleague Bertha
(Vida Hope), think he is mistreated at his workplace.
A big chase ends with Sttratton's white suit suddenly crumbling from
him, in front of everybody.
In the end, Birnley's factory gates close behind Stratton, & this
should be the last of his super-fabric ... or wait a minute, is there just
a tiny mistake in his calculations ?
Despite great performances throughout & some fun plottwists, this
is one of Ealing's lesser comedies, somehow the story as a whole
doesn't really get off the ground - quite probably because it wastes too
much time in setting up Stratton's super fabric & its way to get
produced to really make the big chase scene in the end, including the suit
crumbling from Stratton, a narrative necessity or put a much needed
emphasis on it.