Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Man in the White Suit (1951)

An young chemist (Alec Guinness) is determined to work on a new super strong and stain resistant fiber, but keeps getting fired. When mistaken for a chemical engineer, he manages to get the resources needed to complete his work, and has a suit fashioned. But there's a problem. If everyone has clothes that never wears out, the factories will be out of business. The factory workers, knowing they will be out of jobs as well, side with ownership. Only Sidney wants to go public.

Alec Guinness was an absent minded professor before there was one. His apparatus has a whimsy reminiscent of Willy Wonka. The Man in the White Suit is an understated comedy with social commentary. We sympathize with the altruistic chemist but we can't help but understanding the concerns of factory owners, workers, and even the old woman who washes clothes. We are left to decide our own answers.

Horror stalwart and Batman butler Michael Gough had a sizable roll. Also here is Ernest Thesiger, Doctor Pretorius from Bride of Frankenstein. He also played an undertaker in the good version of A Christmas Carol.

I am accustomed to seeing Guinness as the wizened Obi Wan or the authoritarian Colonel Nicholson from Bridge on the River Kwai. But he was excellent as the comically bumbling and sincere scientist too naive to see the consequences to his actions. I am seeing a new dimension to his ability.

The Man in the White Suite is amusing, entertaining, and thought provoking. A pleasant watch. AMRU 3.5.
"It shouldn't have done that."

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