[Last Film I Saw] The Man in the White Suit (1951)

The Man in the White Suit 1951

Title: The Man in the White Suit
Year: 1951
Country: UK
Language: English
Genre: Comedy, Sci-Fi, Drama
Director: Alexander Mackendrick
Roger MacDougall
John Dighton
Alexander Mackendrick
Music: Benjamin Frankel
Cinematography: Douglas Slocombe
Alec Guinness
Joan Greenwood
Cecil Parker
Michael Gough
Ernest Thesiger
Henry Mollison
Vida Hope
Howard Marion-Crawford
Olaf Olsen
Rating: 8/10

The Man in the White Suit 1951

An Ealing Studio’s satire on capital and labor’s aligned suppression towards the revolutionary invention of an unbreakable and dirt-free fabric. A Cambridge graduate (Guinness) is debarred from a short-sighted garment manufacturer (Gough) to proceed his research, but with the help of another industrialist’s daughter (Greenwood), he is financed by her father and unprecedentedly invents the fabric, which he thinks can benefit all mankind but both the workmen and their high-handed authority figures say otherwise, then a series of cat-and-mouse games ensues until an Achilles heel of the magical fabric pops out of left field ends the farce with everyone is happy except our protagonist.

Running snappily around 85 minutes, the story is unfolding concisely and takes an interesting turn after the cringe-worthy sequences of a nobody requests to meet an affluent personage but is routinely fended off by a hoity-toity butler. Guinness extracts a creditable poise of innocence and innocuousness besides a nerd’s impulsion of his scientific pursuit, and one can read more through his inscrutable eyes. Greenwood is the darling girl here, clears barriers for Guinness when he is in trouble, a rarefied paragon from the upper class, even single-handedly engineers a persuasive feeler in the crucial moment. Vida Hope belongs to the opposite working class, who holds a secret admiration toward Guinness, and her rough and strong-arm simplicity is spot-on. Cecil Parker has a comical presence as an oscillating pushover, and a vulture-alike Ernest Thesiger has a grandstanding entrance as the mogul and decision-maker in the business.

Director Mackendrick and DP Slocombe utilizes a great contrast of Black & White cinematography to accentuate the luminous white suit, particularly in the chase set pieces. THE MAN IN THE WHITE SUIT is a prescient allegory tale which pinpoints the discovery of something new will upset the delicate market and self-seeking masses, it leaves a bitter taste for this technology-advanced era and meanwhile, it is an ingenious comedy deserves multiple watches anytime, anywhere.


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