The Man in the White SuitAn umpeenth viewing of Alexander Mackendrick’s 1951 Ealing Studio satirical comedy, The Man in the White Suit, did not disappoint this evening.  Alec Guinness, as the man in question (Sidney Stratton), and the wonderfully husky-voiced Joan Greenwood as his love interest, put in strong performances, but the film is made by its clever plot. Eccentric free-lancing scientist Sidney Stratton invents a super-strong fibre which repels dirt through static electricity, is slightly luminous and is easily woven. A suit that never wears out and never gets dirty is made and Sidney dons it. At first, the owner of the mill where he has been working lauds his invention, seeing only how it will give him the edge over his competitors, but then the mill-owners and the trades unions alike realise the full implications of such a product; it will do them all out of business. They join forces and, turning into an Establishment mob, hunt Stratton down, intent, if necessary, on shutting him away unless he signs away the rights to his invention (which would then itself be locked away). For those who haven’t seen the film I won’t give away the ending. Is ‘Progress’ always a good thing? (Some of the more enlightened Establishment members call for a gradual introduction of the new fibre.) In any case, all of the mills pictured in the film and the world they represented have long since disappeared. An implicit treatise in favour of industrial planning, this would be a good film to show economics students at school.