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Directed by Alexander Mackendrick

Alec Guinness

Restored by Studiocanal at Pinewood Studios


(1951) “Do you know what a long chain molecule is?” Ex-Cambridge chemistry whiz kid Alec Guinness, now reduced to lab dishwasher, steals time to work on his pet project: a fabric that never wears out and never gets dirty — but the only one with faith in his looney idea is mill boss Cecil Parker’s sexily low-voiced daughter Joan Greenwood (“The suit. It looks as if it’s wearing you”). Then, after a few of those darned explosions, his theories actually work (the rhythmic gurgles, squirts and drips of the hero’s lab apparatus were later recorded with added lyrics as “The White Suit Samba”), but then he’s got to contend with planned-obsolescence-lovers Capital (personified by ancient, vulture-like Ernest Thesiger, of Bride of Frankenstein fame) and Labour (his landlady worries, “What’s to become of my bit of washing when there’s no washing to do?”) — but as the hunt to suppress closes in, the Laws of Physics provide the climax. A landmark of British cinema — and high point of the famed “Ealing Comedy” — by the unsung Mackendrick (The Ladykillers, Sweet Smell of Success), presented in his centennial year. Approx. 85 min. DCP.





A BRILLIANT SATIRICAL COMEDY! Mackendrick directs with a controlled bravado rare in the British cinema, achieving small throwaway miracles of timing, underlining nuances of comedy acting, and carefully building climactic scenes in the Eisenstein approved manner.”
– Leslie Halliwell

Mackendrick put his personal stamp on every project:
his characters are warmly drawn without condescension, and his social commentary has real bite.”

– Dave Kehr

"THE FUNNIEST OF THE GREAT FIFTIES EALING STUDIO COMEDIES! [In] a new restoration—the better to savor that phosphorescent suit, Joan Greenwood's purr, and the blend of crisp British diction and Mackendrick's heathery Scottish timing."
– David Edelstein, New York magazine

"Rialto’s restoration of this classic Ealing film is nothing short of pristine, as the black and white perfectly capture the dual natures of both people and places. The comedic elements Mackendrick incorporates make the film a light enough experience that the satiric commentary goes down smooth as silk. Guinness is a delight as he easily embodies the spirit of young idealist and populist thinker. Do yourself a favor and take ninety minutes out of your week so that you can see how crisply they used to do things."
– John Oursler, Cinespect
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[Four Stars]!
"The unbreakable and highly luminous threads from which the film's invincible garments are loomed feel suspiciously borrowed from the spindle of the Fates—as fire was from Mount Olympus in the Promethean story. Mackendrick's wickedly intelligent film posits a fame-hungry chemist as the single degree of spiritual separation between a pederast monster and a film-going public who cannot help but dream big for the future." 

– Joseph Jon Lanthier, Slant

“Guinness has often been at his comic best in the role of an ordinary man with an obsession,
and who can be as ordinary and obsessed as an inventor?
His bland monomaniacal scientist is beautifully matched by Joan Greenwood,
who is all guile and scorn and perversity, without any real aim or purpose.”

– Pauline Kael

"in The Man in the White Suit, Mackendrick's ability to see all sides serves to sharpen, not blunt, his scattergun barbs. 'In a psychotic world, neurotics seem normal,' said Mackendrick, apparently in explanation of the film's naive hero Sidney Stratton, who invents an unbreakable, supremely dirt-repelling yarn. The bosses' strategies to stop Sidney's invention start at deception, escalate to coercion, imprisonment and sexual inducements, and culminates in a massed pursuit through the night-time streets that suggests the climax of Frankenstein, minus only the pitchforks and braziers."
– Mark Duguid, Sight & Sound

“As David Thomson acutely observed, in a note about the extent to which the acid disenchantment of Sweet Smell of Success was already apparent in Mackendrick’s earlier work, there is enough of Kafka in the film to lift it right out of the Ealing comedy tramlines.”
– Time Out (London)

"I wonder what would have happened if I had proposed to Sir Michael Balcon an earnest and gripping drama exposing the viciousness of some leaders of a British industry who combined with shop stewards and workers in an attempt to bribe, to morally corrupt, kidnap, and finally try to lynch an idealistic young man who was trying to offer the benefits of science to humanity? It is a rather brutal theme… But we made it; we called it The Man in the White Suit, and because it was a comedy with Alec Guinness nobody objected at all."
– Alexander Mackendrick