Alexander Mackendrick (director)
Cert U (certificate)
85 min (length)
19 November 2012 (released)
12 November 2012
One of Ealing Studios most successful movies – THE MAN IN THE WHITE SUIT - has been restored to celebrate the centenary of one of Ealing’s greatest directors: Alexander Mackendrick.
This 1951 satirical comedy stars Alec Guinness as Sidney Stratton, a genius inventor who develops a fabric that never gets dirty or wears out. And it is of brilliant white because it contains radioactive elements. Contrary to Stratton’s expectations, manufacturers, industry bigwigs and unions alike try to suppress the new invention and resort to desperate measures in order to avoid the miracle garment hitting the market. Understandably, they fear that a garment that never needs to be washed or wears out will put the textile industry out of business in no time, and therefore puts them out of a job too.
At the movies climax, Stratton is chased along the streets by a mob. It is then that his suit falls to pieces due to an unexpected breakdown of the fibre’s chemical structure. Laughingly, the mob rips off his suit piece by piece, until the genius inventor is left standing in his underwear. Only Daphne Birnley (Joan Greenwood), the mill-owner's daughter, and Bertha (Vida Hope), a works labourer, show some sympathy and understanding.
The next day, Stratton gets dismissed from his job. Upon consulting his chemistry notes, he realises his flaw and with the words “I see!” he makes his way into an uncertain future.
Alec Guinness truly shines (no pun intended) in the role of Sidney Stratton, injecting the figure of Stratton with pathos, irony and cynicism. Ernest Thesiger is his usual camp as Sir John Kierlaw, while Michael Gough and Cecil Parker as Michael Corland and Alan Birnley respectively contribute to the film’s impressive acting talent.
Extras on the DVD/Blu-ray release include the ‘Revisiting The Man In The White Suit’ featurette, Behind The Scenes stills gallery, Restoration Comparison and trailer.
THE MAN IN THE WHITE SUIT will be shown fully restored on Nov 29th at the BFI Southbank as part of the Alexander Mackendrick retrospective.