Man in the White Suit, The: Oscar Comedy
Long before he became an international star (when he won the Oscar for “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” in 1957), Alec Guinness distinguished himself in a number of ultra-clever and uniquely British comedies.
In this tale, which was directed by Alexander Mackendrick and nominated for the Original Screenplay Oscar, Guinness plays one of his finest, and most famous, comedic roles in this Ealing satirical comedy about an amateur scientist whose latest invention creates uproar in the British textile industry.
In the British manufacturing country of Northern England, factory owner Michael Corland (Michael Gough) is showing competitor Alan Bimley (Cecil Parker) around his plant, hoping to borrow some money and marry off his daughter, Daphne (Joan Greenwood).
They stumble upon a bizarre object, which turns out to be an experiment by employee Sidney Stratton (Guinness). As a lower class worker, Sidney is summarily fired from his job. Sidney ends up working at Bimley’s factory, where he is befriended by militant worker Bertha (Vida Hope). Daphne spots Sidney at the factory and he explains to her the results of his experiment, a material that’s indestructible and impervious to dirt.
Bimley discovers this project and throws Sidney out. But Daphne, impressed by his experiments, funds Sidney, installing him in his own laboratory. After a few false starts, Sidney develops a white material that can’t be dirtied or ruined. But it seems Sidney’s invention is too brilliant and effective. If a material is marketed that will last forever, textile mills will go out of business and workers will lose their jobs.
Suddenly, poor, luckless Sidney has both management and labor joining forces together to combat his new invention.
Oscar Nominations: 1
Screenplay: Roger MacDougall, John Dighton, Alexander Mackendrick
Oscar Awards: None
The winner was George Wells for “Designing Woman.”
Running time: 82 Minutes.
Directed by Alexander Mackendrick
Screenplay: Roger MacDougall
Released in US: March 31, 1951.
DVD: September 10, 2002
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