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The Man in the White Suit(1951)
An altruistic chemist invents a fabric that resists wear and stain as boon to humanity but both capital and labor realize it must be suppressed for economic reasons.
For more about The Man in the White Suit and the The Man in the White Suit Blu-ray release, see the The Man in the White Suit Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on November 16, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Alec Guinness, Joan Greenwood, Cecil Parker, Michael Gough, Ernest Thesiger, Howard Marion-Crawford
Director: Alexander Mackendrick
» See full cast & crew
The Man in the White Suit Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, November 16, 2012
Nominated for Oscar for Best Writing, Screenplay, Alexander Mackendrick's "The Man in the White Suit" (1951) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of StudioCanal. The supplemental features on the disc include original trailer for the film; discussion with director with Stephen Frears, film historian Ian Christie and author and British film historian Richard Dacre; stills gallry' and restoration comparison. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
Sidney Stratton (Alec Guinness, The Lavender Hill Mob, The Ladykillers) is a man with a dream. For some time now he has been trying to invent the perfect fabric, but has not been able to come up with the right formula for it. He is also an ordinary worker in a giant lab full of people where running experiments without being authorized to do so is a rather complicated business.
Things get even more complicated when the top guy in the lab discovers that someone has been using its equipment and requesting expensive materials without his approval. When the news reaches Michael Corland (Michael Gough, The Go-Between, Batman), the owner of the mill, for which the lab runs experiments, Sidney is quickly identified and then promptly fired. He is warned to stay as far away from the mill as possible.
Sidney immediately gets a job at Alan Birnley's (Cecil Parker, The Lady Vanishes) mill and resumes his experiments - again without authorization. When he eventually creates the perfect fabric - a truly indestructible white material which never wears out and resists dirt - Birnley puts him in charge with his lab and gives him unlimited funds to continue his experiments. Then he asks Sidney to sign a contract with him which gives him the exclusive rights to promote and manufacture the new fabric.
The news about Sidney's perfect fabric spreads like fire and soon other textile businessmen from all over the country gather in Birnley's home to discuss the future - all of them are seriously concerned that Sidney's invention will destroy the business. The workers also unite and demand that the businessmen destroy Sidney's fabric so that they could continue to have their jobs.
Meanwhile, while trying to figure out what to do Sidney befriends Birnley's handsome, surprisingly progressive daughter Daphne (Joan Greenwood, Kind Hearts and Coronets), who has been enormously impressed by his invention.
Based on Roger MacDougall's play, Alexander Mackendrick's The Man in the White Suit is easily the most pessimistic of all Ealing comedies. In fact, it is hard to even regard it as a comedy because it asks some very serious questions, the majority of which are in fact relevant today.
Consider this: How much progress is in fact beneficial for industrialized countries? And where is the tipping point after which the entire supply-and-demand system which is at the core of modern economies becomes irrelevant? There is a fascinating sequence in the film where business and labor come together, both absolutely terrified, because they have realized that Sidney's indestructible fabric will put an end on their relationship.
Sidney's behavior is also quite fascinating to behold. As a scientist, the only thing that matters to him is his invention. And he is always fixated on the future because this is where all the challenges are, this is where the personal satisfaction he lives for could come from. He is a very dangerous egoist but does not realize it.
There are no specific political references in the film, but it is very clear that Mackendrick was seriously concerned about Britain's post-war identity. Would the country be as irresponsible as Sidney and become obsessed with success or would a different type of mentality prevail amongst its 'scientists'? The debates between the businessmen, the workers and Sidney offer plenty of food for thought. A truly fascinating film, indeed.
The Man in the White Suit Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.37:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Alexander Mackendrick's The Man in the White Suit arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of StudioCanal.
Recently restored in 2K, The Man in the White Suit looks quite beautiful on Blu-ray. From start to finish detail and depth are indeed very pleasing. Close-ups in particular look great (see screencapture #3), but many of the outdoor sequences also surprise with impressive depth (see screencapture #2). Color saturation does not disappoint either. The blacks are lush and stable, while the grays and whites are well balanced. There are no traces of excessive degraining. Compromising sharpening corrections are also nowhere to be seen. Large cuts, damage marks, and debris have been effectively removed. Unsurprisingly, the film has a pleasing organic look. This said, I noticed a couple of sequences where compression could have been better. It is hardly noticeable, but trained eyes will likely spot that there are some extremely small fluctuations (for example, see the light posterization in screencapture #10). Still, this is a very pleasing presentation of Alexander Mackendrick's classic film that is guaranteed to impress its fans. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
The Man in the White Suit Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: English LPCM 2.0. For the record, StudioCanal have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
The range of nuanced dynamics is rather limited, but this should not be surprising. The limitations are directly related to the film's sound design, not the strength of the lossless track. On the other hand, the dialog is very crisp, stable, and easy to follow. Clearly, various stabilizations have been performed, while background hiss has been removed as best as possible. For the record, there are no audio dropouts or distortions to report in this review.
The Man in the White Suit Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Man in the White Suit Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
StudioCanal have done a tremendous job with the Ealing comedies. All but one of the restorations that have come out of Pinewood Studios and reached my desk have been outstanding. The latest one, Alexander Mackendrick's The Man in the White Suit, is not an exception. And the film is easily one of the best in the Ealing catalog - very well scripted, entertaining and thought-provoking. If you have not seen any of the films from StudioCanal's Vintage Classics collection, I urge you to do so as soon as possible. They are fantastic. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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The Man in the White Suit Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Man in the White Suit Blu-ray - July 27, 2012
Studio Canal will release a Double Play edition of director Alexander Mackendrick's The Man In The White Suit (1951), starring Alec Guinness, Joan Greenwood and Cecil Parker. The release, which will be part of the studio's Vintage Classics series, will be available ...
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